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December 2013

In This Issue


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Introduction

The RE Council’s Second Regular General Meeting fell during a period of high media coverage for RE. The launch of both Ofsted’s ‘Realising the potential’ and the RE Review Report has drawn some much-needed attention to the subject. An address to the Council by Hardip Begol, from the Department for Education, gave promises of serious conversations about RE between the DfE and the Council, and inspired renewed hope that the RE community’s efforts to safeguard the subject are being noticed. 

RE Council website

Updates this month include:

RE Review dissemination

Dissemination events for the RE Review report have been taking place around the country, with presentations from eminent RE professionals and some fantastic talks and videos prepared by the RE Council’s Young Ambassadors for RE. The RE Council would like to express its thanks to all of the institutions who hosted the events, each of the speakers, the Young Ambassador teams and their teachers, and all those who attended the events and generated dynamic and interesting discussion on the Review. Accounts of the events, and links to the speakers’ presentations will be made available on the REC website shortly. 

APPG on RE launches new inquiry

On 10th December, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on RE will launch its Inquiry into RE’s contribution to good community relations. The first event will be an oral evidence session in Westminster, during which presentations will be given by: Deborah Weston (NATRE, RE Council), Sharon Lambert, Aisling Cohn (3FF), Dr Julia Ipgrave, Jane Chipperton, and Prof Adam Dinham. The focus of this first session will be Cohesive Schools. The aim of the session is for MPs to hear expert evidence and informed opinion on what RE contributes to community relations, and to raise questions and offer suggestions for ways forward. The Inquiry is being led by Dr Joyce Miller, and has been made possibly by grants from Culham St Gabriel’s and the Hockerill Educational Foundation. Further information about the APPG and the Inquiry can be found on the RE Council website

Teach RE Course

This newly updated distance learning course from Culham St Gabriel's provides opportunities for those already teaching RE or planning to teach RE in any type of school, primary or secondary phase. The modular structure means that trainees can tailor the course to their own needs in order to develop their subject knowledge, but also apply their understanding to classroom settings. The course costs £195, however there are still a limited number of funded places available for HLTAs. For further information about the course please contact trec@cstg.org.uk

The Westhill Trust Seminars: series 5

There are still places available at the third in series 5 of the Westhill Trust Seminars, ‘Effective learning methods for children’s spiritual development for 4-11s’. The seminar, taking place in Liverpool, 14-16 March 2014, will examine learning methods for children’s spiritual development within the primary classroom and other contexts such as faith communities. Speakers will include Dr Rebecca Nye, Dr Anna Strhan and Lat Blaylock. For teachers and researchers, this is a chance to deepen their engagement with RE by exploring recent research from within and beyond the classroom. Hearing from leading experts in the field and meeting with practitioners from around the country makes for stimulating and challenging discussions, with an emphasis on applying what has been heard. To find out more, see the Seminar Flyer

3forRE scheme

Culham St Gabriel’s is delighted to announce that it is now partnering with three more universities: Bishop Grosseteste, Canterbury Christchurch and the Institute of Education, University of London. The scheme enables teachers and TAs to apply for funding to help them gain an MA qualification with an RE focus. For further information about this scheme which supports teachers who are considering a Masters qualification please see www.cstg.org.uk/grants/3forre

'More than 101 Great Ideas'

‘More than 101 Great Ideas’ is the latest publication from RE Today Services. Written by Rosemary Rivett, it is an 80-page collection of 116 effective strategies for use in RE with 5 – 16s, arranged in seven sections (Act, Create, Think, Enquire, Reflect, Talk and Write), and accompanied by a 40-page downloadable pdf of photocopiable resources. It is to be published in December 2013 at £18, ISBN 978-1-905893-71-1, and will be available from shop.retoday.org.uk.

Schools continue to flout RE laws

Following the APPG on RE report into RE teachers, published in March 2013, NATRE has conducted a study on schools’ compliance with legislation on RE. NATRE found that a third of community schools and over a third of academies without a religious character are still failing to meet their legal or contractual agreements to provide religious education. State schools must teach RE to under-16s, whether they are studying for a GCSE in the subject or not. Further information about the study can be found on the NATRE website

3FF leads discussions at Parliament about RE

To mark National Inter Faith Week and on behalf of 3FF, Stephen Lloyd MP (Chair of the APPG on RE) hosted a breakfast meeting in the Houses of Parliament for head teachers, senior leaders and experts to discuss the role of leadership and schools in creating safe spaces for the education of young people.  With contributions from Bernadette Hunter (President of the NAHT), Dr Mark Chater (Director of Culham St Gabriel’s) and John Keast OBE (Chair of the RE Council), important issues were raised with calls for an inclusive ethos and physical safe spaces within schools, a connected and broad curriculum, and more training and confidence for RE teachers.  For further details about this important discussion, or to join 3FF’s network of Head Teachers and Senior Leaders across the UK, please contact Aisling Cohn, Schools Manager (aisling@3ff.org.uk; 020 7485 1475).  

3FF's education workshops

3FF’s programme of award-winning RE and interfaith workshops continues; to find out more, book a session or enquire about becoming a volunteer speaker, please contact Robert Dixon, Schools Organiser (robert@3ff.org.uk; 020 7485 1390).

Hindu Council UK: Diwali celebrations

This month the Hindu Council has been busy celebrating and delivering the message of Diwali. Events were arranged at Trafalgar Square, Scotland Yard, Welsh Assembly, House of Commons and at Cambridge and Manchester universities, as well as in community halls in Harrow, Amersham and Liverpool. The key message of Diwali was the teaching of Sri Rama: 'Not just learning to live with each other but learning to live for others.'    

Investigation into time off for religious observance

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has been asked by the Department for Education to provide them with details of cases where people have had difficulty getting time off work for Jewish festivals this autumn. The Board have been approached by many teachers for help in negotiating time off, but the issue is something that can be problematic across all sectors. What is unique to the Jewish community is that they are proscribed under Jewish law from working on all 13 festival days throughout the year, as well as on the Sabbath. The Board of Deputies are also interested to hear if any other faith groups, particularly teachers, have had problems with observing their faith. If you have any information which may be of use, or have experienced difficulty in booking time off for religious observances, please e-mail education@bod.org.uk as soon as possible with details of your experience. All information will be treated in full confidence. 

'Religious and Personal Life'

Each year the Westminster Faith Debates bring together leading public figures in central London to discuss some of the most controversial topics of the day. ‘Religion and Personal Life’, published on 29th October, is the book which resulted from these debates which took place throughout 2013 and contains full coverage of each debate, as well as introductory comments, summaries of the arguments and suggestions for further reading. The purpose of the book, as of the debates, is to present reliable research, offer the best possible articulations of a range of different views, and help people review their own positions and make up their own minds. They are a valuable RE resources for older students. The debates are available to watch or listen to online at http://faithdebates.org.uk/; further information about the book and its editor, Linda Woodhead, can be seen on the DLT publishers’ website
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