August 2013

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As the summer term has drawn to a close, the RE Council and many of its member organisations are preparing for the new academic year, with planning underway for different celebrations, activities, and exhibitions. 

RE Subject Review update

The public consultation has now ended and is in the process of being analysed. The Review team is grateful to all who send in their responses.  Early indications are that there is widespread support for much of the proposed statement but there are some areas of disagreement. A second specialist writer, Dr Barbara Wintersgill, has now been appointed to build on the work of Task Group 2, in reporting on the contextual issues which influence the provision of and curriculum for RE. Further details are in the summer edition of the Review newsletter. The Review's final report is due to be published in September.

All Party Parliamentary Group on RE

The APPG held its annual general meeting on 8 July; Stephen Lloyd was re-elected as Chair, with MPs Mary Glindon, Fiona Bruce, Mike Crockart and Baroness Brinton as Vice Chairs; its membership continues to rise.  Plans for the coming year include a short inquiry into the role RE can play in good community relations, with three evidence gathering sessions at Westminster.  Stephen Lloyd's Early Day Motion 272 on Religious Education and Tolerance has already attracted 27 signatures.  For further details on the APPG and its activities see

40th Anniversary Sponsored Walk

The last three months have seen 12 sponsored walks taking place across England and Wales: see for details of these events which were in general very much enjoyed despite the vagaries of British summer weather!  Altogether the walks raised nearly £6000 for the RE Council's work and a similar sum in support of the second charities chosen by local organising groups.  This was very welcome, as was the opportunity to raise awareness about the REC and its work.  Many thanks to all who supported this by planning events, taking part in walks or sponsoring others to do so – your help has been very much appreciated.

For anyone who would still like to donate, or organise further fundraising events, the RE Council will continue to accept donations through Virgin Money Giving.

Young Ambassadors for RE

The pilot of the YA scheme came to a successful conclusion this year with publicity the teams had activated around the presentations at Westminster on 24 June. Many of those who had taken part in the pilot evaluated their experiences very positively. Young Ambassadors for RE will continue next year and funding has been made available from the Keswick Hall Trust for a national conference when YA teams will explore RE issues of their own choice as well as deciding on ways of expanding the scheme to more students including those in upper primary years.

Celebrating RE

The Celebrating RE website has now been relaunched.  Many of its materials, whilst originally produced for Celebrating RE Month in March 2011, give ideas for RE activities that could be used in the curriculum at any time or developed as enrichment opportunities.  They span the age range and some are also relevant for different contexts such as SACREs, inter faith activities and initial teacher training.  See for the new website.

Barnabas in Schools: new resources available

Christianity: Key Beliefs and Traditions was written to resource teachers with key ideas to share with children at Key Stage 2. At a time when RE has been considered to be at risk of being sidelined, a book such as this could equip many who teach RE with a valuable resource. 

Teaching Narnia draws upon a range of disciplines to help children explore RE through the themes outlined in the Chronicles of Narnia. In this 50th anniversary of the death of C.S.Lewis, Barnabas in Schools is pleased to be able to develop teaching programmes from the wealth of material in the original works. 

Coming out in August is Wow! Our Amazing Planet - a cross-curricular conservation resource for primary RE teachers.

Shap calendar

The Shap festivals calendar is now available. This calendar, used by organisations such as the NHS, World Council of Churches, BBC and many educational organisations, can be purchased from the website at 

Board of Deputies: statement on DfE’s decision against a statutory prescribed list of languages

The Department for Education has decided not to go ahead with making a prescribed list of languages statutory as part of Key Stage 2 curriculum changes. This had been a particular issue for schools with a religious designation wishing to teach a language of religious importance, such as Hebrew, which had not previously been included on the list of foreign languages from which schools could choose for teaching to 7-11 year olds. In a letter to the Board of Deputies President Vivian Wineman, the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove wrote that, ‘We have noted the concerns expressed by organisations such as the Board of Deputies that it could narrow the scope of language teaching in primary schools’. 

Board of Deputies: educating 50 DfE staff about Jewish faith ethos

As part of the Faith Consultative Group, which BoD representatives attend regularly, they were asked by the DfE to put on a training event to explain the Jewish faith to its 50 staff. The aim was to assist them with their work and inform them about religious practice, offer an understanding about different traditions, and finally how this is reflected in the ethos of Jewish schools. Details are available here.  

Christian Muslim Forum conference report

The CMF held a conference in Westminster Abbey on 14 March 2013 on Religious literacy and spirituality. A full report is now available; it gives detailed synopses of the keynote address by Kate Christopher and the workshops on a range of topics.  Much of the content has relevance for RE.  The report can be seen here.

JAINpedia: exhibition at the V&A

The Victoria & Albert Museum, continues to have a Jain manuscript and artefact exhibition in their South Asia Gallery. The display is part of the wider JAINpedia project. Please contact us on to book a group tour of this display.

Manchester Jewish Museum: sessions for primary schools

Manchester Jewish Museum, housed in a beautifully restored Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, is proud to announce the launch of four new sessions for primary schools. They are “The Synagogue and Sacred Objects”, “The Sabbath Experience”, “Passover-The Great Escape” and “A Happy New Year-Rosh Hashanah”. Two more new sessions on the festivals of Purim and Chanucah are in the pipeline as is a review of the Museum's sessions for secondary schools. For more details please visit

Institute of Jainology: JAINA Convention

Education Director, Dr Mehool Sanghrajka represented the IoJ at the recent JAINA Convention in Detroit, Michigan. The biennial convention focuses on spiritual development, health, well being, ecological and social issues. IoJ Education activities were presented as well as the JAINpedia project's achievements. 
Dr Harshad Sanghrajka will be speaking about one of the most important Jain prayers, the Namaskar Mantra, on Saturday, 3rd August in South London. Further details can be found on

The Stapleford Centre: 'Transforming Lives'

As part of its Transforming Lives Project, The Stapleford Centre is pleased to announce its YouTube Channel. This houses video clips suitable for use in a variety of CPD situations, including a debate between REC trustees Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association and Trevor Cooling of the Stapleford Centre.

Free event for schools: 'Robots, God and Genetic Engineering'

Designed for students in years 9, 10 and 11, this free event will be held on Wednesday 25th September 2013; it is organised by LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion), a project run by the University of Reading and the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge. The one-day event is designed to get students thinking about the 'Big Questions' while supporting teachers who teach science and RE with ideas about how - in practice - to delve into the 'Big Questions' in schools. To request a booking form or for more information contact Janet Lake: For more information on the project visit

Conference: 'Shaping the Future of Primary Religious Education'

There will be a FREE one day conference on Saturday 30th November 2013 at Middlesex University, London for Initial Teacher Education tutors in Primary Religious Education. The programme includes keynote speakers and workshops and will focus on preparing student teachers to teach RE in the light of the RE Subject Review and the proposed changes to the primary curriculum.
For further information and to reserve a place, please contact Linda Whitworth

Zoroastrianism: exhibition at SOAS

The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination is the first exhibition of its kind to provide a visual narrative of the history of Zoroastrianism, its rich cultural heritage and the influence it has had on the major world religions of Judaism. Christianity and Islam.  The exhibition will be held in the Brunei Gallery of SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies of London University) from 10 October to 1 December 2013; it will also host a two day conference, "Looking Back: The Formation of Zoroastrian Identity Through Rediscovery of the Past" on the 11-12 October 2013. Further information on the website

Inter Faith Week in England, Northern Ireland and Wales: 17 to 23 November

Schools and SACREs are playing an increasingly active role in this important week led by the Inter Faith Network for the UK, taking advantage of the opportunity it gives each year to highlight learning about and from different religions and also to learn about and contribute to inter faith projects.  More information, including special IF Week related resources produced by NATRE and NASACRE, as well as relevant resources produced by the RE Council in connection with the Celebrating RE month in 2011, can be found at Further information: or from

The Westhill Trust seminars: series 5

Series 5 of the Westhill Trust seminars will be held throughout October 2013 - March 2014. The titles of the seminars are:
  • Knowledge in RE: what, why and how should pupils know in RE? (4-6 October 2013)
  • Achievement in RE: what matters and can it be assessed? (15-17 November 2013)
  • Effective learning methods for children's spiritual development for 4-11s (14-16 March 2014)
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
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