January 2015

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2014 has been a year of both difficulties and successes for RE: at the beginning of the year it appeared as though RE was at huge risk of being neglected; hard work by the RE Council and its member organisations to safeguard good RE has begun to bear fruit. There has been a higher level of better informed media coverage about RE, and an increase in interest from government ministers. The RE Council is particularly pleased that in 2015 trainee teachers will be able to seek financial support thanks to the restoration of bursaries for RE. We hope that the new year will be one in which the high quality RE evident in many schools will become more widespread across England and Wales. 

Farewell and thank you to Sarah!

The REC is sad to be saying goodbye to Dr Sarah Smalley, the RE Council’s Executive Officer, who has worked with the Council for the past seven years. Sarah has been a tremendous supporter of RE throughout her career, and has led the RE Council through some tumultuous times, helping to strengthen its reputation as the broad and inclusive organisation that it is today. Sarah has been instrumental in the RE Council’s achievements during her time as Executive Officer – working hard behind the scenes on projects including: Celebrating RE, the RE Subject Review, two APPG reports, the development of the PD Portal, and the production of numerous resources for teachers, subject leaders and other RE professionals.

The REC would not be the organisation that it is today without the support, enthusiasm, dedication and tireless work of Sarah, and we will be very sad to see her leave. Our very grateful thanks to Sarah for all that she has done for the RE Council. We wish her well in her retirement – a very well-deserved rest!

GCSE and A Level reform: Religious Studies

The RE Council of England and Wales welcomes the consultation on the criteria for GCSE and A Level examinations in Religious Studies (closed 29 December 2014) and is pleased that its officers and member organisations have contributed to the process which has been led by the Department for Education. We have encouraged our member organisations to join us in responding to the consultation document, and the RE Council Board’s response is available to view on the REC website. Ofqual is consulting in parallel on the assessment arrangements for all subjects, with their consultation closing on 5 January 2015. The Ofqual consultation can be viewed here.

Young Ambassadors for RE

The Young Ambassadors for RE have had an exciting 2014, with lots of opportunities to communicate the importance of RE for them and their peers to members of their local communities and to MPs in Westminster. Their current project is making short films for prospective RE teachers and recent graduates to show how important and engaging teaching RE as a career can be. The Young Ambassador team from the Venerable Bede Academy also designed a very festive season’s greetings card, which demonstrated appreciation for a wide range of religious traditions and non-religious worldviews.

Applications to the YA scheme are assessed on a rolling basis, and so if you know of any schools which might be interested in taking part, please spread the word! Further information and an application form can be found on the RE Council website, and in this term’s YA newsletter

RE PD Portal

The RE PD portal is a one-stop shop for teachers of RE to find out about professional development opportunities of all kinds, the portal includes a database of courses across the UK and online. If you are offering any PD courses, workshops, or other provisions over the next academic year, please get in touch or submit your opportunity using the submissions form. You can now also follow the RE PD Portal on twitter @RE_PDPortal, to keep up-to-date with new PD opportunities. If you are a PD provider and would like to receive the half-termly call for submissions, sign up to the mailing list here

RE Quality Mark

The REQM project will be holding its second conference for schools which have achieved the REQM on Saturday 7 February in Birmingham, thanks to generous support from the Hockerill Educational Foundation, at which Rebecca Nye will be speaking about her research into children’s spirituality. More information is available on the REQM site, or by e-mailing The REQM is available for schools of all types; further details on all aspects of the programme are on its website at

New on the RE Council website

New items on the RE Council website this month include:

RE Regional Strategy

Based on Recommendation 4 of the 2013 Review of RE, the REC, NATRE and Culham St Gabriel’s have launched the RE Regional Strategy Pilot to ensure that there are more robust arrangements for training and supporting teachers of RE across the country. There are now 13 RE hubs supported by CSTG and several operating independently or in partnerships with universities and NATRE, which are developing their own regional strategies, adapted and suited to their own professional development priorities; we hope that this exciting initiative will lead to real, grass-roots improvements in the quality of RE. CSTG is also supporting primary schools that are working towards an Ofsted ‘Good’, to encourage them to develop their RE, and is aiming to work with 100 primary schools in the north-east and north-west – further details of this will be published on the CSTG and RE Online websites in early 2015. 

#rechatuk by NATRE

Every month NATRE host #rechatuk on twitter on the first Monday between 8 and 9pm. On Monday 5 Jan we are hosting a chat on Dealing with Contentious Issues in the RE Classroom. Please let teachers know and come along and join us by following @natreupdate . A digest of our previous chats can be seen at Please share our poster explaining how to get involved in a #rechatuk. 

Farmington Fellowships for teachers of RE: Open for 2015

Details have now been published of the Farmington Fellowships for 2015-2016, which are open to secondary and primary school teachers, teachers of RE to children with special educational needs, and head teachers. The fellowships enable teachers to undertake research on aspects of teaching RE in schools, and to further their own professional development. The Fellowship will cover the cost of tuition, board and lodging where appropriate, essential local travel and, by negotiation with the school, the salary of a replacement teacher up to point 6 of the main pay scale. The deadline for applications is 26 January 2015, and more information can be found on the Farmington Institute website

Strictly RE: the first ever NATRE national conference

NATRE is delighted to invite you to its first national conference, Strictly RE. This conference has been designed with you in mind, with practical, thought-provoking sessions and great networking opportunities to share ideas and invigorate your RE teaching. With 16 diverse seminars there is something for everyone, from ITTs to head teachers, subject leaders to RE advisers, and everyone in between. Find out more

Date: 31 January 2015, Venue: Grand Connaught Rooms, London, Fee: £150 including lunch, all refreshments and hand-outs. Many presentations will be available to download online after the event.

New RE syllabuses include Humanism

More and more locally agreed syllabuses have been adding detailed content on Humanism to sit alongside the content they already have on religions. Research commissioned by the British Humanist Association (BHA) in 2007 found that three-quarters of agreed syllabuses included Humanism, but following on from the publication last year of the new English RE Curriculum Framework, which is inclusive of non-religious worldviews, the extent  of its inclusion  in syllabuses has continued to increase. Further information is available on the BHA website

Diocese of Norwich SMSC publication

‘Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural Development: A Christian perspective’ was published by the Diocese of Norwich in 2012. The publication is now available as a free download via the Diocesan website. It includes examples and case studies of how schools can promote SMSC development, including through RE. 

Teach:RE Course

Culham St Gabriel’s are delighted to announce a ‘bulk buy’ offer for universities who would like ITT students to undertake the TeachRE course. Please contact for more information about this offer. In addition, a PowerPoint presentation about the course is now available to view and use at


This scheme to support those undertaking a master’s degree with an RE focus still has a very small number of places available for 2014-15. Please see for more information.

Interfaith Explorers launches new website

Visit the new look website!  With new videos and content for teachers to use in the classroom to support SMSC in schools! Interfaith Explorers is a free RE and PSHE online resource supported by UNESCO, which can be delivered over a six-week period or throughout the academic year. Helping pupils understand and respect differences through key skills development, it also promotes core universal values such as compassion and responsibility.  For more information, including forthcoming teacher workshops and webinars that help professional development, contact

'Young Voice, Young Agents for Change'

The RE Council, NASACRE and NATRE were among education, youth and inter faith organisations taking part in a day event held by the Inter Faith Network for the UK last month: “Young Voices, Young Agents for Change” profiling youth inter faith education and activity and exploring how this area can be strengthened. Youth participants at the day made strong contributions and helped launch national Inter Faith Week.  A microsite on IFN’s main website is being developed, drawing on good practice highlighted during the day. The IFN office ( is always glad to be kept in touch with news about projects and resources designed to help learning about inter faith issues in the RE context.

Jewish Living Experience in Carlisle

The Board of Deputies of British Jews held its Jewish Living Exhibition in Carlisle, which was attended by over 500 local school children and members of the public. The UK Jewish community’s premier education resource for young people, the exhibition opened at Tullie House Museum and ran until 11 December, kindly sponsored by Carlisle City Council & Tullie House Museum. The exhibition has been described as a hugely important resource for showing people of all ages and backgrounds what it means to be Jewish, and plays a vital role in spreading a message of education and tolerance towards others. Further information about the exhibition, which travels around the UK, can be found on the Board of Deputies website

Hindu responses to Philosophic Challenges for A Level RS

The Hindu Council UK has published full series of talks on Advanced Level Hinduism. This series covers all the philosophic challenges and the Hindu response to these challenges, and can be viewed on the Hindu Council YouTube channel
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