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January 2016

In This Issue


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Introduction and the year ahead

2015 was a year of change and developments at the REC, and indeed for RE. Media coverage about RE has been better informed than in previous years, and there have been several high-profile reports and publications concerning RE, including 'A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools', from former Education Secretary Charles Clarke and Linda Woodhead; RE for REal, a report from the Faiths & Civil Society Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London; and the report of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, chaired by Baroness Butler-Schloss and convened by The Woolf Institute. These reports have all raised questions as to whether RE might be ripe for change, which has inevitably led to much healthy discussion and debate on the nature of RE. Conversations with politicians and civil servants have also suggested that there exists an opportunity for the reassessment of the subject and the RE Council is keen to make the best use of this chance to try to effect positive change. It will therefore set up an independent Commission to look into the complex range of issues that relate to the legal and wider policy framework around RE. This will involve appointing a set of commissioners to independently investigate the issues and report back with findings and recommendations. It is hoped that the Commission will begin its work in mid-2016 and complete a final report by mid-2018. 

We hope that the new year will be one in which the discussions and debates of 2015 will lead to collaborative action and positive results in the form of high quality RE for all students at schools, colleges and universities across England and Wales. 

Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life

Living with Difference, the report of the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life released last month, makes an important contribution to the growing debate over the future of religious education. 

The REC is delighted that the report celebrates the role that religious education plays in preparing pupils for life in Modern Britain - which, incidentally, the Young Ambassadors for RE are currently investigating themselves (see below).  

The report calls for religious education to be accorded the same status as other humanities subjects, and for consideration for it to be included within the English Baccalaureate: these would be important steps and the REC supports the Commission in these recommendations.

Appeal for funding for Young Ambassadors' Conference

Before Christmas, the Young Ambassadors were set an assignment to investigate how a religious or non-religious worldview of their choice prepares people for life in modern Britain. The YAs have selected a diverse range of worldviews and we will be approaching REC member organisations which we think might be able to help them with their research. 
This will culminate in YAs presenting their research at a conference which we hope to be able to hold in the summer term.

To be able to run the conference, the REC needs:
  • A free venue in central London for the conference.
  • Funding so that the REC can offer to pay for Young Ambassadors' travel expenses.
We have already received a few donations but really need to raise more money, so if you are able to make a donation towards the costs of running the Young Ambassadors' conference, please contact Naomi (naomi@religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk) in the REC office, or you can make a donation via the REC website. 

RE Quality Mark Conference

The RE Quality Mark team are busy with preparations for the RE Quality Mark Conference to be held on Saturday 6th February at Liverpool Hope University. 

This conference offers schools which have achieved the award, and those aspiring to, to come together to share their ideas. It will be an excellent opportunity to learn from others, including those who have taken part in classroom based research about how RE is having an impact on wider school development. The keynote speaker will be Dr Debra Kidd speaking on ‘Curriculum with Conscience’. 

If you are a teacher at an REQM school who would like to attend the conference, please email Naomi at admin@reqm.org

RE Quality Mark Grants

Thanks to REC members Keswick Hall Trust, Culham St Gabriel's Trust and Westhill Endowment trust, there are a number of grants available for small schools (fewer than 150 pupils) and schools requiring improvement which would like to apply for the RE Quality Mark. The grants are managed by the RE Council and schools can indicate on their application forms if they would like to be considered for a grant.

For more information about the RE Quality Mark and to download the application form, please visit the REQM website or email Naomi at admin@reqm.org.

Teaching Judaism Conference

The Board of Deputies of British Jews will be running a conference on Teaching Judaism for teachers of the new Religious Studies GCSE, teaching Judaism as the second religion. The conference will be held in London on 22nd February 2016, with Lord Winston of Hammersmith as keynote speaker, and presentations from chief examiners of the main exam boards. Teachers will also have access to relevant resources and teaching materials and be able to see an exhibition of Jewish life in the 21st century.

The conference fee is £200. To book and for more information, please contact Lisa Frickers: office@pajes.thejlc.org

Hindu Council UK website on Reincarnation

The Hindu Council UK has set up a website focusing on reincarnation, one of the key beliefs of Indic religions. The website looks at Reincarnation in relation to issues such as gender orientation, phobias, child prodigies, abortion and euthanasia.

Visit http://reincarnationuk.org/ for more information.

Strictly RE 2016: last chance to book!

NATRE’s 2nd Annual National Conference, Strictly RE, is being held in Central London on Saturday 30 January 2016. Designed for everyone in the world of RE, this one-day conference will include inspiring speakers, a packed programme of seminars as well as an exhibition of resources and plenty of networking opportunities.
 
Book your place now at www.natre.org.uk/courses-events/strictly-re-2016 or email courses@retoday.org.uk for more information.

News from Westhill Endowment Trust

Westhill has recently agreed to support schools in the West Midlands area (including neighbouring shire counties) wishing to apply for REQM status. Contact admin@reqm.org for more details.

The deadline for SACREs applying for up to £4,000 for the annual Westhill NASACRE Awards is 31st March 2016. Visit for more details visit http://www.nasacre.org.uk/

Westhill Seminars: This review of the value of these RE research seminars between academics and practitioners, which have not been held in recent years, is still ongoing. Feedback from REC members to Westhill (rgdickson@btconnect.com) is still welcome.

Interfaith Cooking Session at JW3

On Sunday 15th November, 20 women came to JW3 (the Jewish Community Centre in London) for an interfaith cookery session specifically for women involved in education. This initiative was organised by Nisa-Nashim, the Jewish Muslim Women’s Network, Mitzvah Day and the Jewish and Muslim Teachers Associations and took place in JW3’s demonstration kitchen.  All food cooked during the afternoon was donated to a nearby homeless shelter. Saba Raza, a teacher at Firs Farm Primary School said that it was “a great experience and very important tool to help promote interfaith dialogue, understanding and respect between Muslims and Jews.”

Three Faiths Forum

3FF works with over 6,000 young people across the UK each academic year.  Our award-winning interfaith workshops explore themes of faith, belief and identity, and allow students to ask challenging questions within a safe space.  We are currently able to offer grants for our workshops to schools in London and Birmingham for Summer Term 2016. 
For more info contact siobhan@3ff.org.uk or visit http://www.3ff.org.uk/schools/education-workshops.php.  

A new curriculum for Wales

A new curriculum for Wales for 3 to 16-year-olds will be developed with education professionals across Wales, with the aim of it being available to settings and schools by September 2018.
The curriculum’s framework will be underpinned by four purposes and consist of key elements including six Areas of Learning and Experience, and three cross curriculum responsibilities: literacy, numeracy and digital competence, progression reference points at ages 5, 8, 11, 14 and 16 and achievement outcomes which describe expected achievements at each progression reference point.

Survey: Leadership, Religion and Society course

A new project ‘Leadership, Religion and Society’ has begun at the University of Sheffield, which will engage with leaders from many areas of public and professional life interested in the equalities area of Religion and Belief.

The project and proposed course seek to engage with people working in many sectors including, Social Policy & Politics; Health and Social Care; Education; Arts and Culture; Religion and Belief; Journalism and the Media; Law and Criminal Justice.
 
The project team are inviting people to complete a 2-minute survey indicating their views on and interest in various aspects of a proposed course (taster days through to Masters level).

Free Conference: Alternative Visions in the Public Sphere

Alternative Visions in the Public Sphere is a free conference to be hosted by FaithXChange, a network supported by the Faiths and Civil Society at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Over the last forty years, understandings of the public sphere have been dominated by secular discourses. Literature over the last twenty years has identified a renewed visibility of religion. Yet religion is a culturally specific category, identified most closely with Protestant Christianity, and so talk of its return raises questions of hegemony. Alongside secular and Christian discourses, this symposium seeks to give voice to alternative visions, representative of the vast array of religion and belief in the contemporary world.

Speakers include: Dr. Katie Aston, Goldsmiths; Dr. Daniel Nilsson DeHanas, King's College London; Dr. Jasjit Singh, University of Leeds.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
Spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To register, please follow the link below:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/alternative-visions-in-the-public-sphere-tickets-20507265784

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
© 2016 
Religious Education Council 
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