March 2014

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This month, the RE Council has had some positive results, with a good range of news coverage and comment pieces in UK media recognising the importance of religious literacy and knowledge, including in The Economist. APPG work continues, with the end of the oral evidence sessions for the current inquiry into the contribution RE can make to good community relations, and we look forward to launching the good practice document which will be the result of the evidence submitted. 


The APPG on RE has continued with its inquiry into RE’s contribution to good community relations. The transcript from the second oral evidence session, which focused on cohesive communities is now available on the REC website. The third and final session included presentations from speakers on topics of cohesion in society as a whole, including examples from England, Northern Ireland, and Europe. A transcript of this session will be published in the APPG News section of the website shortly. Joyce Miller, who is coordinating the inquiry, will now prepare a best practice document, which will be launched at an APPG meeting at Westminster in March. 

Young Ambassadors for RE

Our Young Ambassadors for RE are continuing their hard work this year, with a team from The Redhill Academy giving evidence for the APPG inquiry on 24th February. Before heading to Westminster, the team gave an interview to BBC Nottingham, which can be listened to here until 2nd March (at 2hrs 23mins). The Young Ambassadors for RE scheme is also now open to applications from any school. For more information download an application pack in the YA section of the website. 

RE Council website

Last month a new Professional Development portal for teachers of RE was published through the RE Directory, providing a one-stop shop for teachers and others involved in RE to find PD opportunities of all kinds, as well as information about resources and funding. If you are an institution or professional offering PD, you can publicise your courses and events through the submissions form.
Other updates from the REC website this month include:

RE Quality Mark

The first RE Quality Mark conference for school leaders whose schools have achieved the REQM award took place in February. Generously supported by the Hockerill Foundation, the conference focused on sharing examples of high quality practice which enabled schools to achieve the award. The keynote was given by Dr Mark Chater who scoped the opportunities as well as the challenges for RE leaders and encouraged delegates to take advantage of and contribute to the new CPD opportunities emerging through RE hubs. 7 subject leaders ran sessions about enquiry based learning, the usefulness of networking, RE in a Special School, spiritual development and RE, using ICT in RE and high quality learning in RE. It is hoped that the conference will be an annual event for schools with the RE Quality Mark: the next conference is in Birmingham on February 7th 2015

Professional development for teachers of RE: RE Today Services

RE Today is offering professional development for both primary and secondary teachers of RE. Teaching three religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam in the primary school is a one-day course for primary teachers which addresses practical ways of learning about and from three religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Assessing RE at Key Stage 3: Solutions, Fresh Thinking and Practical Ideas is a one-day course which will give secondary teachers of RE up-to date and practical solutions to issues in assessing RE with 11-14s.. Further information and booking forms can be found on the RE Today website.

The Stapleford Centre RE videos

The Stapleford Centre has published a number of video clips on its YouTube channel. Some of these will be of interest for CPD in RE and some for Church schools. See The Stapleford Centre YouTube channel for more information. 

Faraday Institute Bursaries

The Faraday Institute for Science & Religion offers three types of bursary for their courses, which are available by competition: Faraday Bursaries, open to all eligible candidates, Faraday-St Gabriel’s Trust bursaries, for school teachers and trainee school teachers of Religious Education, and Faraday-St Edmund's College Bursaries internal for students from St Edmund's College. See the Faraday Institute website for further information. 

PGCE RE Bursaries from CSTG

Culham St Gabriel’s will be collaborating with a number of other trusts to create a common fund supporting secondary RE trainees starting in September 2014. The fund has been created because of the government’s refusal to offer a training bursary for RE – a serious injustice which the RE Council, NATRE, CSTG and others are actively seeking to change. Details of the fund can be found at

The Teach RE course

This course, newly restructured to reflect the changing needs of its students and to support the new NCFRE, is supporting many starting RE teachers and teachers with other specialisms, in supplementing their subject knowledge and their understanding of the purpose and pedagogy of RE. Details of the course can be found at


The free open website supporting teachers of RE, with sections on knowing, learning, assessing, supporting and leading – continues to grow. Culham St Gabriel’s is delighted to announce changes to the site that make it consistent with the content of the NCFRE. They will also be adding material from the Westminster faith debates series, related to A level specifications.

Culham St Gabriel's regional strategy

Working with the REC’s Professional Development Committee and with NATRE, CSTG recently hosted a round table meeting on the regional strategy (Recommendation 4 of the Review) which will lead to some resources and guidance on the creation of hubs and networks. The report is being finalised at the moment.

Hindu Council UK: website resources

Hindu Council UK has developed web presence for learning Hinduism at various academic levels as follows:

ISRSA produces a new iGCSE in Philosophy and Theology

The ISRSA is working closely with Cambridge International Examinations to produce a new IGCSE in Philosophy and Theology. Drawn up by experienced examiners led by Michael Wilcockson, it has received encouraging endorsements from professional philosophers and theologians. It is anticipated that the Board will adopt the specification in the next few months ready for it to start being taught in 2015. Funding for IGCSEs is not supported in RS by the DfE (yet), but it may well be that schools other than independent ones may wish to consider its use. More details will emerge when the specification is adopted. Whether it can be adapted for a short course is under consideration once the adoption of the full course is confirmed.

Network of Buddhist Organisations

The NBO has two new Buddhist Facebook pages that may be of interest to REC members: The Network of Buddhist Organisations UK Facebook page and the Buddhist Action Month 2014.  The Buddhist Action Month (BAM) is a now annual month showcasing Buddhist social action projects across Britain and across many traditions, co-ordinated by the Network of Buddhist Organisations in association with the Triratna Buddhist Order.

2014 Accord Coalition Inclusivity Award

Newbury Park Primary school in Ilford has won the 2014 Accord Inclusivity Award for its innovative ‘Ambassadors of Faith and Belief’ scheme. The pioneering project was supported by Redbridge Council’s SACRE and involves volunteers from local sixth forms making presentations to pupils about their own beliefs and the role of them in their life. The programme, which is being expanded to other schools in the borough, allows younger pupils to encounter and have a dialogue with positive role models from different backgrounds, improving their understanding of the nature of religion and belief as a real life experience. 

Researcher wanted for Pikuach review

Pikuach is the denominational Section 48 Inspection Service to inspect Jewish Education in Jewish schools, mirroring Ofsted. After many years providing a full inspection service for Jewish schools, this review will take a look at both internal and external structures in order for the next phase of Pikuach to be as fit for purpose as possible. Pikauch is looking for a researcher to undertake this review. If you are interested in tendering for this work, please email your CV and a proposal of no more than 1,000 words, to Helena Miller, who should also be contacted for the terms of reference for the role . Applications must be received by 10th March 2014. Interviews will be held on the morning of Wednesday 19th March.

'Old localism, new localism': What does the future hold for RE in schools?

This public lecture, held at Brunel University on 6th March, 5-7pm, will address the importance of RE in twenty-first century schools as well as the principle of local determination of the curriculum. The lecture will be given by Janet Orchard, who project managed the RE Review for the RE Council, and Lesley Prior, Chair of the National Association of SACREs. This event is free and open to the public. Further information can be found on the Brunel University website

The Woolf Institute short courses

Applications are now open for the Woolf Institute short courses: Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter, a 15-week course which explores the history, culture and theology of Muslims and Jews, reflecting both on similarities and differences as well as the major challenges; and Jews, Christians and Muslims in Europe: Modern Challenges, a three-part course which focuses on the relationships between Jews, Christians and Muslims and their impact in modern Europe, looking at their history, culture and issues of citizenship. Most recently the Woolf Institute has developed a series of online courses, which are ideal for anyone who requires flexibility of learning. Students can learn informally or with the support of a tutor on topics including 'Jewish-Christian Relations in the English Novel' and 'Is Interfaith Dialogue Important?'. 
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