Exploring worldviews: a stimulus resource for religion, values and ethics in Wales

The St Giles’ Centre has published a new bilingual professional learning resource entitled Exploring worldviews: a stimulus resource for religion, values and ethics in Wales. The resource was launched at a special professional learning session provided by the St Giles’ Centre on 9 June 2022 for secondary practitioners in Wrexham.

The publication of Exploring worldviews: a stimulus resource for religion, values and ethics in Wales is timely. In the Curriculum for Wales, ‘worldviews’ is listed as one of RVE concepts in the RVE statutory guidance on Hwb, and ‘worldviews’ are also mentioned in the Humanities’ AoLE. In addition, Agored Cymru now has a new suite of qualifications called “Exploring Worldviews”, which uses a worldviews approach to provide for statutory RE or RVE for 14 to 16 year old learners. The St Giles’ Centre and Wrexham practitioners have been instrumental in developing these new qualifications.

The professional learning resource is designed to provide the basic knowledge that practitioners in Wales need to start thinking about worldviews within their own teaching and learning contexts. It also aims to stimulate critical engagement and can be used by individuals or by groups. In whatever way it is used, we hope that the resource will offer a helpful starting point for approaching worldviews in Wales, and we also hope that it is easily accessible to all. So, this means that we have taken care with both presentation and language to try to ensure that both specialist and non-specialist practitioners can access the resource easily and creatively. For those who want to read further, there are also live links to further material.

You can access this free resource on our support material’ page.

Trailer for the new Wrexham Agreed Syllabus for Religion, Values and Ethics

Agreed Syllabus presentation image

At the beginning of June, primary and secondary practitioners in Wrexham local authority were given a preview of the new Wrexham Agreed Syllabus for Religion Values and Ethics. The preview was part of two professional learning sessions held by the St Giles’ Centre that were designed to support schools in preparing for the new curriculum.

The Agreed Syllabus will be officially available on the local authority website towards the end of this term.

Meanwhile, a trailer is available for those who could not attend the sessions. The 6-minute video gives a brief background to the process of creating the Agreed Syllabus, and it can viewed on our ‘Support material’ page.

New website page and resource for the learner voice in RVE

At the St Giles’ Centre we feel that learner voice is a vital aspect of a children’s human rights approach and we would encourage schools and settings to engage as much a possible with their learners with regard to Religion, Values and Ethics, to ensure that their provision is appropriate and that the views of learners have been heard and taken in to account.

To help support schools and settings in this process, the St Giles Centre has added a new website page and resource for the learner voice in RVE. Visit the new page by following this link.

(For related news on the learner voice, read our recent news article: Listening to young people in Wrexham – Senedd yr Ifanc discusses RVE in the Curriculum for Wales.)

Professional learning sessions to launch the Wrexham agreed syllabus for RVE

macbook pro on brown wooden table

This summer term, the St Giles’ Centre is offering schools in Wrexham two professional learning sessions to launch the Wrexham agreed syllabus for RVE. The sessions are free and will take place on Microsoft Teams.

The session for PRIMARY schools will be held on Tuesday 7 June 2022, at 4pm – 5.30pm. As part of the agreed syllabus launch, the session will explore cynefin and RVE.

The session for SECONDARY schools will be held on Thursday 9 June 2022, at 4pm – 5.30pm. As part of the agreed syllabus launch, the session will explore worldviews and RVE.

If you would like to book a place for you and your staff, please contact us by Tuesday 24 May. We will need the name and email address of each member of staff so that the invite and resources can be sent directly to those wishing to attend.

Professional learning in RVE: Policy Insight Event now published on Hwb

RVE Policy Insight Event presentation

St Giles’ Centre staff, Libby Jones and Tania ap Siôn, were delighted to host the Welsh Government’s Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE) Policy Insight Event on behalf of the Wales Association of SACREs.

The aim of the online Policy Insight Events is to keep stakeholders up to date with professional learning developments for the Curriculum for Wales. The Event, focusing on professional learning resources for RVE on 26 April 2022, was very well attended with around 105 attendees.

Kevin Palmer (Deputy Director, Pedagogy, Leadership and Professional Learning) introduced the hour-long session by speaking of his personal interest in and support for RVE, and the significant place of RVE in learners’ education today. This was followed by a short video sharing several other voices on the value of RVE and its place within the Curriculum for Wales, including the Right Revd Mary Stallard, Sergeant David Smith, Emma Davies (a primary education student), and Gareth Hall (a Humanist school speaker and university chaplain).

The Event explained why national RVE professional learning resources were needed, who has been involved in the project, and the process being followed. Details were shared about the resources and a couple of draft modules were explored in more detail. There was also opportunity for participants to talk about what they had seen and heard from their own perspectives.

If you were unable to attend the Event or want to share the Event with others, a recording has just been published on Hwb, which can be accessed here.

The professional learning resources will also be published on Hwb later this term, and we will let you know as soon as this happens.

Listening to young people in Wrexham: Senedd yr Ifanc discusses RVE in the Curriculum for Wales

Senedd yr Ifanc website

The Curriculum for Wales brings many changes to current provision, pedagogy and practice in our local schools. Religious Education becomes Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE) from September 2022 and as such it was important to Wrexham SACRE that the local learner voice was heard before the Agreed Syllabus Conference recommends a new agreed syllabus for RVE to the local authority.

Libby Jones met with representatives of Senedd yr Ifanc Wrecsam (Wrexham’s Youth Parliament) on Monday 25 April to find out the views and opinions of young people aged 11 – 25 on the changes affecting religious education and the transition to Religion, Values and Ethics.

The young people present listened carefully and respectfully, as they took on board the changes with maturity and seriousness. They asked pertinent and insightful questions regarding how the changes will affect them and their fellow learners. Older representatives drew on their own past experiences in school and showed empathy and consideration for their younger peers who will be mainly affected by the changes.

Some of the points raised included:

  • the importance of exploring different religions and non-religious beliefs for a cohesive society;
  • the importance of feeling included within these lessons and how RVE will make teaching and learning more accessible and relevant to them;
  • learning about people’s values and ethics as well as their religions will be more interesting and appealing to learners of all ages and backgrounds;
  • concern about whether the inclusion of non-religious beliefs in to an already full curriculum might overload the subject and in turn make RVE examinations more content heavy;
  • concern about how the changes may affect how much they learn about their own religion;
  • concern for their teachers in ensuring that their subject knowledge is broad enough to accommodate the addition of non-religious beliefs; and
  • the need to ensure that teaching and learning is based on authentic and accurate information, especially with regard to perhaps less familiar religions or denominations and non-religious beliefs that are represented locally and nationally.

On the whole, the Senedd yr Ifanc was very positive about RVE, and the valuable contributions of the young people that were present will help to inform the agreed syllabus on RVE and the support offered by the local authority through its Standing Advisory Council to its schools in the roll out of the Curriculum for Wales.

Thank you to all of the young people involved in the meeting and to Caroline and Tricia for facilitating.

Latest news on the new Wrexham agreed syllabus

On Thursday 28 April 2022, the Wrexham Agreed Syllabus Conference (ASC) will convene its final meeting to approve the new locally agreed syllabus for Religion, Values and Ethics.

The ASC working group met regularly throughout February and March to discuss the national statutory guidance for Religion, Values and Ethics on Hwb, and to prepare a draft of Wrexham’s locally agreed syllabus for RVE. The ASC intends to recommend this syllabus to the local authority at its meeting on 28 April and it is hoped that Wrexham local authority will adopt it officially as the Wrexham Agreed Syllabus in time for schools in Wrexham to use it in their planning for RVE as part of their preparations for curriculum roll out from September.

The St Giles’ Centre will be offering professional learning sessions for primary and secondary schools in Wrexham as part of the launch of the new agreed syllabus, in order to support them with these important preparations.

If you have any questions about the ASC or agreed syllabus, you can contact Libby Jones, who is the RE/RVE advisor for Wrexham local authority.

Welsh Government Policy Insight Event for RVE: Professional Learning update

The Welsh Government has been holding online ‘Policy Insight Events’ to keep stakeholders up to date with professional learning developments for the Curriculum for Wales.

Staff at the St Giles’ Centre are pleased to be part of the Policy Insight Event for Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE). You can register for the Event now and circulate the details to anyone who may be interested to learn more about the national professional learning opportunities for RVE.

The following details have been published on Hwb:

26 April: 2 to 3 pm (Tuesday)
Policy Insight: Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE) Professional Learning Resources for the Curriculum for Wales
The statutory Religion, values and ethics guidance was published on Hwb in January 2022. The Welsh Government has been working in partnership with the Wales Association of SACREs (WASACRE) to create a suite of national online Professional Learning resources to support practitioners and settings in their design and delivery of Religion, values and ethics within the Curriculum for Wales. A team of specialist practitioners drawn from schools across Wales are creating these resources. This event will provide an opportunity to learn more about the development of these resources and to view what is being made available online.

The online registration form is available here.

Resource to support teachers and A-level learners exploring science and religion

The St Giles’ Centre has recently published the special science and religion issue of the A-level journal, Challenging Religious Issues in Welsh. (The English version was published in autumn 2019.)

This special issue was originally made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, USA.

Free access to both the English and Welsh versions is available here on our 16+ page.

The special issue articles include:

Technology and Human Nature by Adam M. Willows
The article reviews some theological discussion about developing technology. It discusses how new technologies raise questions about our understanding of human nature, and how different theological responses might approach these questions.

Evolution and the Argument from (or to) Design by Jeff Astley
The article summarises the effect of Darwin’s proposed mechanism for evolution on the design argument for God’s existence.

Stewardship of Creation by Andrew Village
The Jewish-Christian tradition has been partly blamed for creating an attitude towards the environment that sees it as something to be dominated by humans and exploited for their benefit. It also stresses the idea that humans are ‘stewards’ of creation, given the task to look after the planet for God. But what does it mean to steward creation? This article describes two examples of the way in which human activity has shaped different habitats and had complex effects on the birds that live there.

Thinking about Being Human in a Universe of Aliens by David Wilkinson
One of the most compelling scientific issues of our generation is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). The question whether we are alone in the universe has long fascinated the media and the public and has received fresh momentum in the discovery of exoplanets, a small minority of which have Earth like characteristics. The discovery of life elsewhere in the universe, especially if it is intelligent, poses major questions for the Christian faith in areas such as creation, incarnation, redemption and the nature of what it means to be human.

Is Creation Complete? A Critique of Continuing Creation by Timothy Wall
The article explores the idea that creation is incomplete, through the concept of continuing creation. This arises from the dynamic world as described by science and in the Bible, but it is argued that it is ultimately flawed both scientifically and theologically. It is inherently problematic to say that creation is incomplete because it allows for no discontinuity between creation and new creation. The article suggests that a view of creation rooted in Christ may allow us to say that creation is both complete and dynamic.

Challenging Religious Issues is a free, open access on-line journal designed to support teachers and students engaged in A-level Religious Studies, bringing recent and relevant scholarship and research from the University into the A-level classroom.

The Welsh language version of Challenging Religious Issues is funded and managed by the St Giles’ Centre, Wrexham.

What Covid reveals to RE specialists: St Giles’ Centre and the European research project

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St Giles’ Centre staff are part of a European research team exploring core questions about what really matters in RE in light of Covid-19 experiences. This qualitative research project focuses on experiences and perspectives of RE specialists, and it is hoped that research results will play a role in informing future directions in RE in schools across Europe.

Phase 1 of the project was launched on 9 February 2022 with an online survey distributed to the Board members of the European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education (EFTRE), which includes 26 European countries.

Phase 2 of the project involves focus group interviews with RE practitioners from a smaller sample of five European countries: Wales, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Austria and Hungary. Phase 2 will begin later in 2022.

The members of the research team, who are drawn from the boards of the European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education (EFTRE) and the Intereuropean Commission on Church and School (ICCS), are:

  • St Giles’ Centre staff (Wales)
  • Bianca Kappelhoff (Comenius-Institute, Germany)
  • Dr Sandra Cullen (Dublin City University, Ireland)
  • Mag. Dr Sonja Danner (Private University College (KPH) Wien/Krems, Austria)
  • Dr Eszter Kodácsy-Simon (Lutheran Theological University in Budapest, Hungary).

The St Giles’ Centre welcomes the opportunity for Welsh voices to be included in this exciting project, and for Wrexham practitioners to be a particular focus during phase 2 of the project.

English (UK)