The Shap Jubilee
Shap was formed in the small Cumbrian village of Shap in 1969. It has done amazing and varied work for 50 years (see the history of Shap for more details). Over this period of time a range of other organizations have sprung into life - to some degree inspired by Shap and its work - and indeed many of the founders and members of Shap have gone on to found or be heavily involved in these other organizations. These include AREIAC, NATRE, NASACRE, EFTRE and many others. Members of Shap have been prolific contributors to the literature on the teaching of Religious Education - the Shap journal is testament to that. As these new groups have sprung up there has been less need for Shap and so the decision has been taken to close down the working party. The calendar group will continue and so the production of the calendar will continue - see the calendar pages.
Shap will close not with a whimper but with a bang! Members of Shap will meet in Shap to formally close the organisation and as part of this we wish to have a "Shap RE teacher of the future award"
The Shap Jubilee – A call for nominations for the ‘Shap Re Teacher of the Future’ Award
In April of 2019, Shap intends to make awards to up to 3 teachers (aged under 35), ideally from each of the 3 sectors, primary, secondary and special, each of £750 to be shared between the teacher and their school (£500 for the teacher and £250 for their school to spend on RE resources).
50 years ago, in 1969, the future of RE was only dimly visible. A few visionaries – or pragmatists? - had started teaching about other religions in their frequently otherwise fairly dull fields of ‘RE’.
The population of Britain was becoming at last visibly diverse and the cosmonauts and astronauts were teaching us that the world was a single thing, however much we might still be seeing the coast of Spain as the most exotic boundary we could imagine reaching ourselves.
Into this world a small band of ‘Religion’ specialists and enthusiasts met in the Cumbrian village of Shap to map out a new future for our schools and children. The Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education was born.
Teacher training courses, resources, programmes of study, the hugely popular ‘Festivals Calendar’ (still going strong), a regular journal all rolled out of the Shap stable together with the prestigious Shap Award, won by nearly all the great and good of RE through the years. Shap prided itself on including in its membership not only the finest academics but also some of the finest school practitioners, so that our theory was always rooted in reality too.
Shap has had many ‘finest hours’ but perhaps one of the greatest was in the midst of the arguments about the curriculum that would eventually give birth to the National Curriculum in 1988. In that discussion, Shap was accused in Parliament – badge of honour, that – of being behind the process of diversifying RE so that it no longer focussed so exclusively on Christianity alone. (We shall overlook the fact that it was Shap folk who had devised and published the marvellous Chichester Project materials that at last offered a way of teaching Christianity as a world religion ten years earlier.)
The eventual legislative resolution was that at last the teaching of world religions was demanded in law. All maintained schools had to teach about a variety of religions.
But the task was not yet done. Now that it was required, Shap shouldered the burden of ensuring that teachers could be enabled to carry out their duties. More training, materials and publications emerged.
50 years on though, the Shap team wishes to hang up its laurels, (except of course for the Calendar which seems indestructible both in its ever-developing quality and never-ending popularity as the most authoritative such resource on the market.) As we all know, the 1988 legislative settlement has frayed and fragmented with so many diverse types of schools not bound by this law, but few now doubt that RE should include a variety of religions in its programme. It seems fair to say that that battle has been pretty resoundingly won. And that was Shap’s battle.
At a Jubilee celebration in April, 2019 – in Shap in Cumbria of course – Shapites will gather for a last time to reminisce and celebrate.
President Shap - November, 2018
Co-Chair Shap - November, 2018