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Youth – RE youth debate

September 2016

School children in the House of Commons took part in a major debate in July about the role of religious education.

More than 70 students from across England came together at the Houses of Parliament for the inaugural Youth Debate on the role of religious education in schools. The debate was staged by the Religious Education Council for England and Wales and the National Association of Teachers of RE. Students were welcomed to Westminster by Mary Glindon MP and comedian, writer and actress Sara Pascoe.

Students held a wide ranging discussion, covering topics as diverse as the role of religious literacy in combating extremism and the secularisation of schools. It also covered the responsibility of society, through schools, to expose young people to the widest range of opinions, issues and learning.

United Nations debating rules were firmly applied in the chamber by the debate co-chairwomen, Samilah Naira and Anisa Khalique from Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, London.

Many students managed to talk to their local MPs, who had been invited to attend the debate, and hear what their local students had to say on the importance of religious education in a modern society.

Ms Pascoe, speaking before the event in July, said, ‘The issues raised in RE lessons constantly mirror the news headlines. I loved it when I was at school, for encouraging me to think for myself, develop my opinions, and understand the world I was living in. Broad knowledge of the different religions and beliefs is never wasted, and can make us all better neighbours’.

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