Census Results Reaffirm the Importance of the New Vision for Religious Education

Bushra Nasir portrait

Written by Bushra Nasir CBE DL BSc (Hons.)

Mrs. Bushra Nasir is currently Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Drapers’ Multi- academy Trust (MAT) comprising of 5 schools in London. She line manages the Headteacher of each school and the MAT Executive team. All the schools are now judged at least Good by OFSTED and provide great opportunities for social mobility in an area of high deprivation.

Have you ever been asked about the meaning of life in the classroom? What about the origins of the universe or beliefs about what happens when we die? If you have then you have the same experience as the seven in ten parents who talk about these topics at home with their child. This was the finding from a new survey by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, which found religion and philosophy was a hot topic at home. It’s unsurprising then that a majority of parents – almost seven in ten, saw value in the religious and worldviews approach to religious education. 

Though the Census reveals that traditional religious affiliation is declining, society isn’t necessarily becoming less religious. Many people still engage with these questions because they are at the heart of what it is to be human. Societies have pondered these questions for thousands of years – and it is our privilege as teachers to continue this tradition and help the next generation explore both religious and non-religious responses to them. The reality is that everyone has a worldview. It is our unique way of understanding, experiencing and responding to the world around us. 

The Census results have emboldened the renewed focus amongst educators on how we teach religion and belief in the classroom. Many of these conversations have been informed by the thinking behind the 2018 Commission on RE report that recommended both religious and non-religious perspectives be taught through a worldviews approach. What the Commission recommends is that the worldviews approach becomes the lens through which these ideas are taught.

What does this mean? To have a worldview is to appreciate the lived experience of religion or belief, and also that this may change over time. A worldview is a way of appreciating the pluralistic and diverse nature of belief in modern Britain. People’s worldviews may be made up of both religious and non-religious ideas. For example, ideas about how people should behave may be rooted in a religious belief, but may also have a moral or ethical perspective.

Research done by the think tank Theos prior to the Census confirmed this understanding of belief. It found that about half (51%) of those who identify as non-religious said they do not believe in God. Whilst the number of atheists is significant in its own right, we should not take ticking ‘non-religious’, in a census survey to imply people do not engage with some of the fundamental issues encountered in both religious and non-religious worldviews. They do so, but increasingly outside of a traditional religious affiliation. 

A religion and worldview curriculum is about engaging with this idea in the classroom. Since the 2018 Commission on RE report, many schools have started to adopt these principles into their curriculum. I’ve witnessed first-hand the advantages. Students find that they have more of a chance to express themselves as well as engaging meaningfully with events they may already be reading about on their phones or in the news outside of school. RE teachers report finding the approach more academic, and a better use of their specialism. Meanwhile, senior school leaders such as myself appreciate the way this academic and knowledge-rich approach to the subject is consolidated and complements learning in English and humanities subjects. 

What should I do if my school isn’t teaching a religion and worldviews curriculum? There are a number of very useful resources which teachers can access through the National Association of Teachers of RE website, to bring the curriculum to their students. However, as someone who is a Champion for RE in schools, I am familiar with some of the poor statistics around the teaching of the subject. More often than not, it’s up to us as senior leaders to ensure there is space for the subject on the timetable. Teaching RE to all pupils is a statutory requirement, and a number of schools ignore this by offering a tokenistic version of the subject. This does young people a disservice and denies them their entitlement to the high quality education in religion and worldviews that they need for life in the modern world. 

At a recent debate in Parliament, I was struck by the number of politicians of all parties who made this precise point. Not only can high-quality RE play a role in helping young people get to grips with their worldview, it is also an important part of developing them as young citizens in modern Britain. MPs praised the subject’s ability to provide young people with skills of critical thinking, debating and empathy for the viewpoints of others as well as an appreciation that beyond Britain, the vast majority of the world still follows one of the major religious traditions. This is the type of young person we want to see leaving our school system – ready for modern Britain and the world beyond. 

Returning to school in 2023, I look forward to the ongoing conversations students are having in their RE lessons about the changing nature of faith and belief in modern Britain. Of course, the subject of the Census has already come up in many RE lessons, and listening to students reflect on what the results mean suggests they are already getting to grips with their own worldview. Indeed, since these discussions, many have become more curious about the place of religion and belief in our society, and it has prompted them to question and explore their own worldviews, as well as those of their peers. RE lessons are contributing to a more positive, curious and intellectually stimulating environment in many schools. I’d like to see every student in every school experience that. 

Stargazing: a Data Story

Matthew Savage portrait

Written by Matthew Savage

Former international school Principal, proud father of two transgender adult children, Associate Consultant with LSC Education, and founder of #themonalisaeffect.

“If you wanna do data science, learn how it is a technical, cultural, economic, and social discipline that has the ability to consolidate and rearrange societal power structures.” 

(Hugo Bowne-Anderson, Data Science Anthropologist)

“…saying so to some

Means nothing; others it leaves

Nothing to be said.”

(‘Nothing to be Said’ by Philip Larkin)

When my friends and family ask me what I do, and I say that I help schools worldwide use data more effectively, their response reminds me of Larkin’s poem. Because data is cold and remote, right? And a world away from the purpose of education. In fact, many an educator fears data, and rightly so, as the stick with which they have been, or might be, beaten, in the name of accountability.

However, for me, data, and assessment, are a moral and a revolutionary act. Data and assessment are, if you like, the Great Leveller.

Since being introduced to the worlds of ‘warm’ and ‘street’ data, the sometimes messy tangle of my thoughts about assessment have been woven together as an ensign for equity and justice.

As school leaders, if do not ask ourselves, as Norah Bateson would do, “But what is the warm data on this”, if we allow ourselves to take any piece of data out of context, to pluck it, cold, from the ecosystem on which it depends, and which depends on it, we are compounding “already wicked problems”.

And if we do not “pound the pavement”, and intentionally seek the authentic stories of those students, and groups, currently residing on the margins of successful learning and positive wellbeing in our community then, again, as Freire would say, this is a violence which “dehumanizes the oppressed”. 

However, if we take all the jigsaw pieces of data at our disposal, and we carefully put them together, something amazing, and revolutionary can happen. A wise ‘data storyteller’ with whom I have the privilege to work explained to me that, for her, data in our schools is a galaxy. We need to seek out even the faintest stars, and join them together into constellations; each constellation will help us read the story of the marginalised students in our care, and render our schools more equitable and just as a result.

So the next time I am asked what I do, I will say that I am a stargazer. And that will be enough.


  1. Warm Data Lab. Available at: https://warmdatalab.net/warm-data (Accessed: January 2, 2023).
  2. Safir, S. and Dugan, J. Street Data: A next generation model for equity, pedagogy, and school transformation. Corwin, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2021
  3. Freire, Paolo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2014

Accessing accurate funding for your EAL pupils through the October Census

Catherine Brennan portrait

Written by Catherine Brennan

Catherine is the Director of Better Bilingual, a social enterprise based in Bristol, an EAL Academy Associate and active member of NALDIC.

One of the questions which often comes up during our Better Bilingual discussions with schools about developing EAL provision is funding. No surprise there…but what IS surprising is the absence of information and understanding about English as an additional language (EAL) being one of the 14 funding factors explicitly identified in England’s Schools operational guide: 2022-23 

In this blog, I aim to explain what this EAL funding is and how schools may more easily understand – and hopefully access it – for the benefit of our many multilingual pupils, in relation to the Protected Characteristic of ‘Race’.

What is this EAL funding and how can schools access it?

This education funding guidance from the Education & Skills Funding Agency identifies English as an additional language (EAL) as beingan optional factor’ for local authorities to consider when they ‘plan the local implementation of the funding system’ – i.e. when they allocate central government funding to local schools.

The guidance specifies that ‘Pupils identified in the October census with a first language other than English may attract funding for up to three years after they enter the statutory school system. Local authorities can choose to use indicators based on one, two, or three years, and there can be separate unit values for primary and secondary.’

The means that each individual EAL pupil in a primary school could attract between £500 and £750 per pupil, whilst secondary funding could be between £1,500 and £1,750 per pupil. 

This could be for 1 year or up to 3 years – all depending on how your local authority has decided to use this ‘optional factor’. So a considerable amount of money…

You can read an analysis of ‘how each local authority has allocated their dedicated schools grant (DSG) schools block funding for 2022 to 2023’ here:  Schools Block Funding Formulae 2022 to 2023 (Education & Skills Funding Agency, June 2022).

Why is the October Census so important for schools’ EAL funding?

There are two reasons for this – firstly because this EAL data is collected only once each year through the October Census and secondly because the ‘first language’ definition is often misunderstood, meaning that many EAL pupils are not recorded correctly in the October Census. This can result in schools (and therefore their EAL pupils) missing out on funding.

So what does ‘first language other than English’ mean? Is it the same as ‘EAL’?

Before I answer the first question, I’ll answer the second – yes, it is. And the more we discuss and explore the definition of ‘EAL’ in schools, the better, as it’s important we have a shared understanding of it in order to develop an asset-based approach to EAL pedagogy.

As stated in the DfE English proficiency ad-hoc notice (Feb 2020):

‘Information on a pupil’s first language is collected in the school census. A pupil is recorded as having English as an additional language if she/he is exposed to a language at home that is known or believed to be other than English. It is not a measure of English language proficiency or a good proxy for recent immigration.’

That last sentence is important – ‘EAL’ does not indicate fluency and it does include those pupils who may have arrived some time ago or who were born in the UK. 

It’s also worth noting that if there is more than one language spoken in the home – which includes English – the DfE requests that the language other than English is recorded.

Why might this be a positive thing? Well, if only English is recorded, then the additional language (and the additional cultural richness and sense of identity associated with it) may not be acknowledged, valued and utilised in school for wellbeing and academic success.

How can I find out more about EAL funding?

Our Better Bilingual Guidance on EAL funding for schools 2022-23 gives further information about this topic and we recommend that you talk to your governing body and local authority to find out more about how this funding is allocated (and monitored) locally.

How can schools use this EAL funding to promote DEI in relation to multilingualism?

Every single pupil learning through EAL is different and every school has their own EAL context. At Better Bilingual,  we recommend funding decisions are made after the SLT:

  • looks closely at their pupil population, ensuring that first language data is accurate
  • analyses which particular individuals or groups are doing well (or not so well) 
  • reflects on the strengths of (and needs re) current whole school EAL provision.

Whether the need is for initial pupil assessments, a New Arrivals Policy or CPD on EAL assessment, potential EAL funding accessed through the October Census could be vital in eliminating discrimination and promoting high attainment for ALL our EAL pupils.

What DEI Metrics are you using to measure the impact of your strategic actions?

Hannah Wilson portrait

Written by Hannah Wilson

Founder of Diverse Educators

We are data rich when it comes to the students in our schools, but we are data poor when it comes to our staff.

Any organisation leaning into a DEI strategy and action plan needs to consider the data that they have, and the data that they need to have, to inform the why, the how and the what of their approach.

I find that the CQ framework helps us to think about the cyclical steps we need to take to gather, interpret and act on our DEI data:

  • CQ Drive: Why do we need to gather DEI data? Are our intentions clearly being communicated?
  • CQ Knowledge: What do we need to know about our workforce and workplace? How psychologically safe do employees feel?
  • CQ Strategy: How will we gather meaningful data? How will this data be handled and shared?
  • CQ Action: How will this data be used to inform our next steps? How will this data  make our workplace more inclusive? 

DEI Metrics in a school / trust thus need to include:

  • Baseline data 
  • Benchmarking data
  • Progress data
  • Qualitative data
  • Quantitative data
  • Stakeholder engagement data
  • Stakeholder feedback data
  • Recruitment, retention and promotion data
  • Salary data

We need to remember that this data is about human beings.I once heard a school leader say, we need to focus on the ‘names not the numbers’ in our data trackers in schools. Each piece of data is thus a story, a story about a person.

So this data needs to be handled with care. DEI data is asking people to share their identity, their lived experience and to disclose personal details. This can only happen in a culture of intentional trust and psychological safety.

Moreover, the data needs to be handled in an intersectional way. We need to look at trends within groups but also across groups, for example, pay progression for men v women, pay progression for white v black employees, pay progression for white men v white women v black men v black women.

Recruitment and retention data is a great place to start:

  • Who are we attracting?
  • Who are we longlisting?
  • Who are we shortlisting?
  • Who are we interviewing?
  • Who are we recruiting?
  • Who are we promoting?
  • Who are we retaining?
  • Who are we losing? 

Some other questions for us to discuss before we create and send out a staff survey. 

How do we measure diversity?

Conventional measurements rely on counting the number of people within an organisation who belong to each of the protected characteristic groups, as identified by them.

How do we gauge how people feel about the culture of their workplace?

Employee feedback is one of the most useful data sources for measuring inclusion, especially when leaders can use a “pulse,” a quick survey, to check in with employees without adding to distractions. The challenge, however, is in first establishing the right metrics and then asking the right questions.

How do we frame a DEI survey?

To create a DEI survey that captures employee attention and gets engagement, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • Creating Inclusive Demographic Questions
  • Making the DEI Survey Anonymous
  • Making Questions Non-Required
  • Being Forthcoming With Intent
  • Using Expert Resources

What is a DEI dashboard?

A diversity, equity, and inclusion dashboard is an interface that provides companies with a visual representation of their current diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.

How do you create goals for DEI initiatives?

  • Define goals using benchmarking data 
  • Measure outcomes, not just output
  • Focus on retention, not just recruitment
  • Review inclusion, not just diversity
  • Use surveys to measure inclusion

How do you measure DEI effectiveness?

  • Resources/ funds allocated to DEI strategy
  • Number of diverse employees across the organisation
  • Percentage of diverse employees in leadership positions
  • Investment into development programmes for diverse employees
  • Gap in pay between different demographic groups
  • Length of time diverse employees stay with the organisation
  • Feedback in exit interviews from diverse workforce
  • Number of incident reports e.g. microaggressions

To help you think about the data you are, and could be, using we are hosting a series of free DEI Metrics webinars with some of our collaborative partners, so that you can find out more about their tools to help you measure DEI in your school/ trust.

3 teams, 3 platforms, 3 solutions:

  • On Fri 21st October 12.00-1.00pm we will be joined by the Edurio team
  • On Mon 7th November 12.00-1.00pm we will be joined by The GEC team
  • On Thu 24th November 12.00-1.00pm we will be joined the Flair Impact team

Register to attend but also to receive a link to the recording of each session.

be seen. be heard. be known. belong.

Matthew Savage portrait

Written by Matthew Savage

Former international school Principal, proud father of two transgender adult children, Associate Consultant with LSC Education, and founder of #themonalisaeffect.

I am increasingly of the opinion that every piece of policy and practice in our schools should intentionally centre, and be grounded in, both the pursuit of #deij and putting and keeping #wellbeingfirst. These are, for me, the two golden threads of education.

Consequently, and necessarily, all of the work I do with schools across the world is interwoven with these threads at all times. This is why my mission, as we step into a new academic year yet burgeoning with possibility, has been adapted fully to reflect this.

It is too easy for us to be distracted by other, competing priorities, forgetting that to have too many priorities is to have none. Therefore, now seems as good a time as any to revisit and reset our own.

I believe that every single member of each school community has a fundamental, inalienable and unconditional right to “be seen, be heard, be known and belong”. And I believe that it is my duty to embed and protect that right in everything I do.

We must each be seen for every intersecting identity that makes us who we are, throughout every stratum of what I call the ‘5 Cs of visibility’ – communication, curriculum, campus, climate and culture. We can, and must, audit this, in order to make sure it happens.

We must each be heard, and listened to, honestly, openly, actively and often, so that our voice, and the collective voice of our communities, inform and infuse the decisions that our made on our behalf. Student, staff and parent voice initiatives need to be authentic and systemic.

We must each be known, not for the masks we wear, thickly and well, but for the messy bundle of pains and passions, pasts and futures, needs and strengths we inhabit when not trying to comply, conform or perform. This is where datahard and soft, cold and warm, satellite and street – must play a part.

And if, and only if, we can each enjoy each of these three things, whether we be parent, staff or student, can we begin to belong, a vital, valued and vocal part of our school. And if we belong, then we can begin to thrive, for it is when thriving that the holistic outcomes, of individuals and of teams, are optimised.

As an educator, as a leader, what will you do this year to help ensure every single member of your school community be seen, be heard and be known, in order that everyone can truly belong?