Religious Education Council - Providing political party conference support

What was the problem?

The teaching of religious education (RE) struggles in the current education climate and does not always receive the recognition and prioritisation it deserves. The Religious Education Council, the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, and RE Today work together to increase the understanding of the importance of RE amongst politicians and decision makers. RE should be an important part of any child’s education and as such, it is a legal requirement for all children to be taught RE, but the reality is that thousands of pupils are not being provided with the broad curriculum to which they are entitled.

The Religious Education PR established a campaign to promote this issue of the teaching of education in schools to politicians and policy makers. The campaign had three objectives. The first is to ‘listen and engage’ with each of the political parties and see how the group could support the Government’s education and societal objectives. The second is to turn political engagement into political support for the Commission on Religious Education, a separate project also designed to promote the role of RE. And finally the group wanted enhance the reputation of RE amongst policy makers.

PBC supported the group to achieve all three of their objectives through high profile and engaging party conference programme. Working at the Conferences gave the group the opportunity to meet with a large group of stakeholders in one place.

What we did

PBC developed and implemented a comprehensive activity strategy for the party conference season. This included:

  • A highly visible conference presence: PBC organised an exhibition stand at the main party conferences. This was designed to provide a forum for individuals to find out more about REC, NATRE, and RE Today, as well as about RE as an issue.
  • Interactive quiz: PBC designed an online quiz that MPs were asked to complete when attending the stand. This helped make the stand more memorable at the same time as providing information about RE.
  • MP constituency data: PBC gathered local, constituency level data for each MP. We invited all MPs to attend the stand to learn more about the teaching of religious education in their area.
  • 1-2-1 MP meetings: set up dedicated meetings with MPs whilst at the conferences to maximise time spent and influencing activity achieved.

What we achieved

At the 2016 party conferences alone the following successes were achieved:

  • The conference programme supported the group to have meetings with two Secretaries of State
  • The group met almost 40 MPs at the exhibition stand
  • 25 MPs and Ministers took part in a photo opportunity to support future promotion of RE
  • 16 MPs have agreed to future discussions with the group and to carry out parliamentary activity such as putting down Parliamentary Questions
  • Parliamentary support for the Commission
  • 6 MPs have agreed to take part in school visits

The MP engagement that came from conference has raised the profile and level of political support enjoyed by the Group. Parliamentary support for the commission is a key step forward in ensuring that all children receive adequate religious education.