The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Religious, spiritual or ethical?

The Sandford St Martin Awards is launching a new Children’s category for content which improves young people’s understanding of religion, or moral or ethical issues.

Sandford St Martin trustee and Radio 4 Feedback presenter, Roger Bolton explains…

In their most recent report on Religious Education Ofsted (Religious education: realising the potential, October 2013) said that while, at its best, RE is “intellectually challenging and personally enriching”, evidence from the majority of schools visited showed “that the subject’s potential is still not being realised fully” and that “RE teaching often fails to challenge and extend pupil’s ability to explore fundamental questions about human life, religion and belief”.

Does this matter? I think it does, for both cultural and communal reasons. The United Kingdom cannot be understood without appreciating the role Christian culture has played in its development, from the introduction of the parish system to the replacement of a monarch (James II) because he was a Roman Catholic. Our 17th century Civil War was fought in large part over the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings. Without a knowledge of Christianity, what will schoolchildren make of much of our finest literature and drama, filled as it is with Christian imagery? Or much of the finest European art?

Of course, it is also vital that children learn about other faiths, too. Where there is no knowledge there is often a dangerous ignorance. Anti-semitism has reared its ugly head in Europe again and Muslims suffer from being lumped together as extremists.

A better understanding of faith would also do politicians no harm when they come to debate whether or not to intervene in parts of the world where religion is still a matter of life and death. In short, if we are to have any chance of understanding each other at home and abroad, we need to understand our different faiths.

There is another reason we should ensure that our children are religiously literate. The best of faith teaches us that we are all unique, that we are all equal in the sight of God, and that we should treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated.

Which is why the Sandford St Martin Trust Awards has decided to introduce a new children’s category in 2015. In its report, Ofsted made particular note of how the use of high-quality web-based resources can stimulate pupil’s learning and provide examples of living religious practice. Like Ofsted, we believe that children’s programme and digital content makers play a vital role in helping young people to understand the place of religion and belief in the modern world. We know there are great and stimulating things being made out there – now, we want to celebrate them.

You can learn more about eligibility and enter the Sandford St Martin Trust Awards hereThe closing date for entries is Friday 13th February 2015.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)