The students came from seven schools and were invited by the All Party Parliamentary Group on RE (APPG) to update MPs and Peers about two new initiatives working to promote RE.
The RE Quality Mark is a new accreditation supported and monitored by the Religious Education Council for England and Wales to recognise quality RE in schools.
Meanwhile, the RE Young Ambassadors programme is a new initiative that is bringing together young people from different secondary schools who are volunteering their time to champion the subject.
RE provision has suffered in schools after the subject was not included within the humanities category of the government’s English Baccalaureate league table measure. In March, a report from the APPG found that more than half of those teaching RE in secondary schools had no qualification or relevant expertise.
And last year, the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) revealed that the subject has been in decline in terms of examination entries and curriculum time since the EBacc was introduced.
The study said that despite being a compulsory subject, thousands of students are not receiving any RE teaching at all, with a third of schools reporting that the legal requirement for RE was not being met in key stage 4. Nearly a quarter reported a reduction in the number of specialist staff employed to teach RE for 2012/13.
After the meeting this week, Stephen Lloyd, chair of the APPG, said: “We have found many excuses are given for relegating RE in schools to a single slot, often taught by a non-specialist teacher who has not benefited from subject training. Given the current social and political climate this is shocking, and today it is tremendous to welcome so many schools and young people who want to support RE in our schools. We are working hard to ensure the subject is given a long-term view and is not ignored in any curriculum reforms.”
A statement from the Religious Education Council said: “RE is a challenging subject to teach and one that requires support through training and space in the curriculum. By ignoring RE the current government is threatening to put issues of faith, belief and diversity to one side and not make the most of schools as a safe space to educate, inform and question.”
For details on the Quality Mark and the Young Ambassadors Programme, visit http://religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk/educators/projects/re-quality-mark and http://religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk/young-ambassadors