April 2013

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Over the next few months advocates for RE will be making their presence felt in local communities in a variety of ways.

Following the publication of the landmark report, RE: The Truth Unmasked, MPs will be arranging visits to local schools to witness high quality RE teaching in action, and Young Ambassadors for RE will be taking the opportunity to talk to teachers and pupils about the importance of the subject both in their own schools and through visits to others in their local areas (see news items below).

Our 40th anniversary sponsored walks also provide a unique way for everyone who wants to safeguard the future of RE to raise the profile of the subject in neighbourhoods across England and Wales - you can find out how to get involved in the walks in this edition of the newsletter.

The redesigned format of this email newsletter is working towards the launch of the new REC website in a few weeks' time.

Young Ambassadors for RE

This pilot scheme is now well under way and 51 pupils at ten schools have been accepted as Young Ambassadors for the current school year. They will receive a regular newsletter and will be encouraged to contribute material tothe dedicated section of the new REC website. Their activities will involve promoting the value of RE within their own school, in other schools locally and when they have the chance, at a national level – for instance at the APPG meeting on 24th June. Updates will be posted on the REC website on a regular basis.

All Party Parliamentary Group on RE Report Published

The APPG's first report, RE: The Truth Unmasked, has just been published and is available on the REC website. It shows how a lack of adequate time for training and professional development and a shortage of RE specialists are undermining the experience of RE for significant numbers of pupils in both primary and secondary schools. The report, written by Dr Barbara Wintersgill, launched at Westminster on 25 March, was very well received by MPs in the APPG and has attracted considerable media coverage. Many MPs will be visiting local schools which provide high quality RE to see lessons and receive copies of the report.

RE Council 40th Anniversary Sponsored Walks

RE walks right across England and Wales have now been organised – to see the full range, visit our page on the Virgin Money Giving website. Please support this important initiative to raise awareness of the REC and its work and to raise much needed funding to help it continue to champion RE in many different contexts. More walkers are needed on all of the walks; if you can't take part yourself then please sponsor somebody who is doing so. Alternatively use the 'Donate now' button on the REC website to make a donation to this year's special 40th anniversary appeal at a time when it is under threat.

REThink RE

The ReThinkRE website is focused on three key messages:
  1. RE has never been more relevant and beneficial for young people;
  2. RE is a popular, highly valued and academically rigorous subject;
  3. RE is under threat from Government policy and action is needed to safeguard its future.
The site (and campaign) also articulates one key aspiration: we want to see every young person in every school given access to good quality RE. Please see for more information and to sign up to the campaign.

RE Subject Review

Appointments to both Task Groups for Phase Two of the Review have now been made; please visit the REC website for further details on the review and more information about the people who have been appointed to Task Group One and Task Group Two. We have now finished reading through all the extended responses to the Phase One report - thank you to everyone who contributed. The report produced by the project's external evaluator, Lorraine Foreman-Peck, is now available on the REC website and our supplementary analysis of the extended responses submitted separately will be available shortly. The wider consultation period for Phase Two of the review will begin in May 2013 and we will publish details of this on the REC website and in next month’s newsletter.

RE Leadership Weekend

This year’s annual Culham St Gabriel’s RE teacher conference, to be held at Wokefield Park Conference Centre, Reading, from 28th – 29th September, will focus on RE leadership. The weekend aims to create the space for colleagues to engage and to emerge confident in pushing the boundaries for outstanding RE. There is no cost for delegates and further details can be found on the Culham St Gabriel’s website.

New Publications for RE Today

Opening Up Promises, edited by Fiona Moss, and Questions: Sikhs, edited by Stephen Pett, are the latest publications from RE Today for primary and secondary RE respectively. Both provide a wealth of practical classroom activities to  engage and challenge pupils in their learning about and from religion. Subscribers will receive a copy in their April mailing; otherwise full details are available on

BHA Training Course

The British Humanist Association has been running a pilot to develop a training course which will help humanists work with teachers. The training course is aimed at volunteers who want to work more strategically in schools. Through better partnership working, volunteers will be able to provide support and information to teachers to help plan lessons about Humanism, and help them to identify how the inclusion of humanist beliefs and values can improve outcomes for students across the school; more details can be found on the BHA website.

Grants to Support RE Teachers in Training

Although the government no longer provides a bursary for RE, there are other sources of support. For 2013-14, trainees in secondary RE could be eligible to apply to one of the Church College Trusts for a grant towards course expenses or living expenses. Candidates can check for details of the trusts and foundations to which they can apply.

Courses from RE Today

RE Today’s team of subject specialist advisers are leading a variety of professional development opportunities during the year for teachers of RE in primary and secondary schools. Courses for the summer term include Being an RE Co-ordinator, Assessment, teaching GCSE in an hour a week, Teaching 3 Religions, and Spiritual Moral Social & Cultural Development. Full details are available on Subscribers to RE Today and members of NATRE receive a 10% discount.

Subject Knowledge Enhancement Course

For those preparing to teach RE and needing to update their subject knowledge, Culham St Gabriel’s is offering this course tutored by RE experts. Further details are available here:

9/11 National Schools Competition

Following the success of last year’s inaugural 9/11 National Schools Competition, the 9/11 London Project is again offering students the chance to win a trip to New York this September. The competition is open to all UK students between the ages of 14 and 16 from now until 31st May 2013 and entrants are asked to send either a short film or a 1200 word essay conveying their views on one of two questions: either How did 9/11 change the world? or Why and how would you keep the memory of 9/11 alive in the UK? The judging panel will include Kevin Spacey CBE and Simon Schama CBE; for more details please visit the 9/11 Education Programme website.

Conference: The Future of Religious Education

A conference to be held at the University of Worcester Conference Centre on 19th June will revisit the publication Prospects and Problems for Religious Education more than forty years on from its publication in 1971. Aimed at teachers, headteachers, SACRE members, parents, carers  and anyone interested in the future of RE, the event’s objectives include bringing together educationalists from a variety of perspectives; consideration of national and international points of view; and the identification of an agenda for change and further research. The cost is £50 (£10 unwaged); more details and booking forms are available from Dr Stephen Parker at the University of Worcester:

RE:ONLINE - Free Roadshows!

The March newsletter featured an item on the major redevelopment of RE:ONLINE; to support the new site a series of late afternoon roadshows is being held, for which dates are listed below. For further information please email:
14 May -  Kirklees: Junction 25 Conference centre, Brighouse

15 May - York: York St John University

18/19 May - Bolton: NATRE conference (booking via NATRE)

12 June - London: Tower Hamlets PDC

17 June -  London: Al Khoei Islamic Centre, Chevening Road, Brent

19 June - North Shields
20 June -  Durham
2 July - Liverpool: AREIAC conference (AREIAC members only)

Science and Belief: The Big Issues

This major resource explores controversial issues in science and belief for 16- to 19-year-olds and adults; it is presented by Prof Russell Stannard and produced by RE Today with grant funding from the John Templeton Foundation. The twelve video presentations at the heart of the resource are freely available on You Tube, and discussion notes for group leaders are available for free download from  Prof Stannard will be discussing the issues on Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? Show, to be broadcast on Saturday 11 May.


The JAINpedia project recently joined hands with The Royal Asiatic Society to add three new artefacts to the JAINpedia online collection. Currently being conserved and digitized, they will be available on the Jainpedia website later this year.
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