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May 2014

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Introduction

The RE Council is busy preparing for its Annual General Meeting, which this year is to be held in Cardiff on 7th May. We particularly look forward to hearing an address from the Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis, who will be talking about the future of RE in Wales, and engaging with our Welsh membership. The AGM gives the RE Council an opportunity not only to attend to business, including the next steps for work related to the APPG on RE’s most recent report, but also to reflect on the year’s progress. 2013-2014 has been a particularly busy year, with some exceptional media coverage of the work of the RE community, and we look forward to similar successes in the year to come. 

APPG on RE

The report of the most recent inquiry by the APPG on RE was launched at Westminster on 17 March. Entitled ‘RE and Good Community Relations' and written by Dr Joyce Miller, it is available on the RE Council website, where a transcript of the launch is also available. There has been considerable media interest with articles in major newspapers and on the BBC website and a number of interviews have taken place on local radio stations. A longer report is currently being prepared and the RE Council will explore the topic at its next meeting in May.

Young Ambassadors for RE

There has been continued interest in the Young Ambassadors for RE programme, and the RE Council will be accepting rolling applications throughout the year. Further information about the scheme can be found on the RE Council website. Current Young Ambassadors are working on organising the 2014 YA conference, following the success of the initial conference in October 2013.  

RE Quality Mark

RE subject leaders whose schools  have achieved the RE Quality Mark have been invited to become assessors. We are delighted that their achievement in leading high quality RE will be used to assess good practice in other schools, and there will be a training session for this group on 12 June at St Albans.

The REQM classroom-based research project continues, supervised by the universities of Chester, Liverpool, Warwick, Canterbury & UEA. An interesting range of research is underway, for example: developing theological concepts, the teaching of Islam through interactive experiences, gender and AS take up. Colleagues will be invited to contribute to the next REQM Conference in February 2015.

You can keep up with discussions about the REQM on Twitter, via #rechatuk. There is still funding available for small schools to apply for the REQM.  For further information, contact jane.brooke@reqm.org and mary.myatt@reqm.org.

RE Council website

Updates to the RE Council website this month include:
  • The RE PD Portal: The professional development portal provides a one-stop shop for teachers of RE. Since its launch earlier this year the portal is continuing to be updated on a regular basis. Providers can submit courses to the portal using the submissions form here.
  • RE Council establishes Qualifications Committee: Arrangements for the reform of GCSE criteria for RS have been announced; it is intended that the new exams will be available for teaching from September 2016.
  • Statement on GCSE and A Level reform: The Religious Education Council (REC) is delighted that the Department for Education has accepted the case for the reform of GCSE and A level examinations in the subject on the same time scale as EBacc subjects such as history and geography, to be taught from 2016. One of the recommendations of the REC Review (2013) was to "promote coherence and progression between 4-14 programmes of study and 14-19 public examinations" and this reform is an ideal opportunity to work towards that aim.

RE Today Services seeks RE Adviser

RE Today services are seeking a full-time specialist RE Adviser, to complement the work of its well-respected RE Team. The successful applicant will have recent and relevant experience of teaching and/or advising in RE in the primary phase with a willingness to contribute to both phases as necessary. They will be expected to offer RE advice, training and consultancy services to SACREs, Local Authorities, academy groups, schools and others, and contribute to our publications work. They will be based at home. The ability and willingness to travel and ‘out of normal office hours’ working are integral to the post. Further information can be accessed by downloading the Application Pack, or contacting Diane Horton at RE Today services (0121 472 4242, diane@retoday.org.uk). The deadline for applications is 10am on Tuesday 6th May. 

New NATRE membership is now live

The National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) in collaboration with RE Today Services is delighted to inform all REC members that it has launched the new NATRE membership this month. As part of the new membership there will be additional benefits on offer which will allow access to RE advisers, discounts on our range of professional development courses and publications, free monthly downloadable resources, access to webinars, national RE conference and much more. This is in addition to our current offer of the REtoday magazine, REsource, a curriculum booklet and, in some cases, the British Journal of Religious Education (BJRE). As dedicated ambassadors of RE you may be interested in our Professional package which is most suitable for anyone with a professional interest in RE, or you can support teachers of RE and RE in schools by informing them of our exciting range of membership packages. More information is available on the NATRE website.

Launch of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 guidance

In July 2013, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act received Parliamentary approval. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced guidance to explain the equality and human rights implications of this legislation, for employers, service providers, schools and religious institutions so that individuals and organisations can understand their rights and responsibilities. There is also a quick guide on the Act which explains the key impact of the legislation through answers to key questions. The guidance can be found on the Commission website. The REC contributed to the guidance for schools and this includes a reference to the Council’s ‘Practice Code for Teachers of RE’.

Stephen Fry: a Humanist perspective

Humanism for Schools, run by the British Humanist Association, has uploaded some new videos, narrated by Stephen Fry, which explain a Humanist perspective on some of life’s big questions. The videos cover topics such as: ‘How do we know what is true?’, ‘What should we think about death?’, ‘What makes something wrong?’, and ‘How can I be happy?’. The videos can be accessed on the Humanism for Schools website

Humanist school volunteers

The British Humanist Association has 55 trained Humanist School Volunteers across England, who are available to help teachers with planning, and contribute to lessons on Humanism. By the end of the school year, there will be over 100 trained volunteers. Schools can find out more about this scheme and request a volunteer on the Humanism for Schools website

Free day-conference on Humanism

The British Humanist Association is holding a free one-day conference for teachers on 16th July 2014. The conference will focus on Humanism, and include approaching non-religious perspectives in RE. The conference will take place at Conway Hall in London, and teachers can register on the BHA website

'The Young Atheist's Handbook'

On 24th April, the British Humanist Association sent a copy of ‘The Young Atheist’s Handbook’ to every secondary school in England and Wales. Written by science teacher Alom Shaha, the book tells the story of his upbringing in a Bangladeshi Muslim community in South East London, how he overcame his inner conflict surrounding his atheism, and the lessons he learnt in leading a good life, full of awe and wonder, based on humanist principles. Further information about the book, as well as accompanying resources to help teachers include the book in RE lessons, are available on the Humanism for Schools website

New Teach RE website

Culham St Gabriel's are delighted to have launched the new Teach RE website,www.teachre.co.uk. This provides a portal for all those who want to teach RE, are already teaching RE and those who have to teach RE. It provides information on routes into RE teaching, case studies about teaching RE, continuing professional development and the Teach RE course. 

New teachers' resource pack for KS2, from the Baha'i community's RE Task Force

The UK Baha'i community's RE Task Force is produced a new Teacher's Resource Pack at KS2. It will be available from 1st September 2014 through the Warwick Baha'i Bookshop, 6 Welsh Road West, Southam, Warks CV47 0JN, enquiries@warwickbahaibookshop.co.uk. Warwick Baha’i Bookshop is also providing free workshops for teachers on the Baha'i Faith and how to teach some of its themes. The service will be available from 1st September. For more information, e-mail opa-re@bahai.org.uk. Materials for other key stages can be provided on request.

Resources from the Hindu Council UK

The Hindu Council UK has uploaded new video resources which may be of interest to teachers who are exploring Hinduism. New videos include:

Sea of Faith Network conference

Sea of Faith Network will be holding its annual conference, “Making Connections” at Leicester University, 18-20 July 2014. Speakers include Derek McAuley, Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; Keith Porteous Wood, National Secular Society; and Pippa Evans, Sunday Assemblies. More information about the conference is available on the Sea of Faith Network website

Religion & Philosophy club resources from Sea of Faith Network

The Sea of Faith Network will be providing resources for Secondary School Religion and Philosophy Clubs. Material for 40 standalone sessions will be available for download free of charge from July-August 2014. Keep an eye on the Sea of Faith Network website for more information. 

Sea of Faith Network sponsored sixth-form conference

Sea of Faith Network is sponsoring a conference for sixth-formers, entitled ‘Is religion only for those who can switch off their brains?’. The conference will be held at Bath Spa University, 8-9 July 2014 for students invited from schools in Bath & North-East Somerset. 

Teachers' Enterprise in RE conference

The Teachers’ Enterprise in Religious Education celebrates its Fifteenth Anniversary with a conference on the Catholic approach to other faiths for teachers, and a Mass of Thanksgiving. The conference will take place on 27th June 2014 with chief celebrant Cardinal Vincent Nichols. Further information will follow on the TERE website

Interfaith Explorers workshops

Interfaith Explorers is a free UNESCO-supported online educational learning resource designed to add value to RE in ways that help young people respect religious and cultural diversity. Following the success last year’s Teacher Workshops, the Maimonides Interfaith Foundation is running a new series of free after school training workshops over the coming months in the following locations; Leeds, Manchester, Leicester, Birmingham and Coventry. They are aimed at primary school teachers who want to leverage quality online resources to aid religious education and PSHE teaching in the classroom. You can find out about the workshops, or book yourself a place, by e-mailing interfaithexplorers@education.co.uk or by calling us on 01634 729806.
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