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September 2013

In This Issue


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Introduction

As the beginning of the new term kicks off, the RE Council reports on the end of its Young Ambassador pilot scheme, the work of the APPG on RE, the end process for the RE Subject Review, and various new additions to its website. Several Member organisations will also be holding conferences, training sessions and other events which will be of interest to the RE community. 

Young Ambassadors for RE

Many of the young people who took part in this scheme last term have responded to it very positively, and some of their comments can be read on the RE Council website. This term Young Ambassadors will have their own conference in London, will make presentations at the RE Review dissemination events and the REC's EGM in November, and work in the local area of their school on the APPG theme of RE's contribution to good community relations. The scheme will from November expand to include teams from more secondary schools and some from upper primaries. For more details see religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk/young-ambassadors

RE Subject Review

The report of the RE Subject Review, including its long awaited curriculum framework, is now almost complete. Subject to final amendments, it will be signed off by the REC Board in mid September for publication on 23rd October when it will be launched at Westminster.  Dissemination events will provide opportunities for discussion about the RE curriculum and other issues covered by the Review; they will take place in York (6 November), Oxford (19 November), Liverpool (21 November) and Bristol (28 November), all from 5.30 to 7.30 p.m.  Further details will be announced on the REC website when available at religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk.

The RE Directory

The RE Directory has been completely revised and relaunched.  It has a wealth of essential information for those interested in RE, including a database of undergraduate and other courses in Theology and Religious Studies (both face to face and online), a research archive, an annotated list of journals and periodicals relevant to RE, another of useful websites for RE, overviews of statutory requirements, qualifications and exams and much more.  It can be seen at www.theredirectory.org.uk  and by the end of September will also be home to the forthcoming RE PD Portal.

All Party Parliamentary Group for RE

In 2013-14 the APPG will hold an inquiry into the contribution of RE to good community relations and will publicise the outcomes as widely as possible.  The group's membership continues to expand; two parliamentarians who have joined recently are Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, and Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole (a full list of members can be seen at http://religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk/appg ).   Please encourage your local MP to join and play a part in supporting RE at this time when we need policy makers to demonstrate greater understanding of its value in the education of all young people.

RE Council Website

New items recently uploaded to the REC website include the following:
  1. A briefing paper on RE for school governors; this was written in response to a recommendation from the APPG report on the supply of and support for teachers of RE;
  2. A briefing paper on the case for reinstating GCSE short course in the measures for school achievement; 
  3. The first three of a series of case studies from schools which have taken steps to address RE staffing needs creatively;
  4. Some of the comments made about the Young Ambassadors for RE pilot scheme; and
  5. A new blog post from John Keast - Chair of the RE Council

3forRE Scheme

Culham St Gabriel's have expanded the 3forRE scheme which enables teachers and TAs to apply for funding to help them gain an MA qualification with an RE focus. There are places still available at most partnership universities. More details of the scheme can be found at: www.cstg.org.uk/grants/3forre or email kathryn@cstg.org.uk
 

Culham St Gabriel’s collaborative investigation on spiritual, moral, social and cultural development 

Together with two other funding bodies, CSTG is supporting the Royal Society for the Arts in a systematic investigation into spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of young people in schools. The project will begin and end with a roundtable and will consist of systematic interviews, research papers and proposals that affect policy and practice. For further details, contact mark@cstg.org.uk

Strategic partnerships: CSTG with NATRE and RE Today

Culham St Gabriel’s and NATRE/RE Today have signed a strategic partnership for a three-year period to underpin their excellent professional development work and to bring sustainability and growth to their membership. The six strands of the partnership cover:
  • Infrastructure costs
  • Reconfiguration and growth of membership of NATRE
  • Excellent RE, the programme of intensive support for RE in primary schools
  • Pupil-teacher conferences with SACRES – a proven vehicle for showing teachers that they can teach good RE
  • Thinking days – creating space for leading RE professionals to reflect together strategically
  • NATRE northern conference – the continuation of this tried and tested model. 

Training bursaries for RE Secondary trainees

Together with several other trusts, Culham St Gabriel's have provided bursaries collectively for more than 50 trainees who will be starting this September. This essential support has helped in a small way to guarantee a supply of qualified RE teachers in future, and has been necessary because of the government’s withdrawal of bursaries for RE. CSTG are committed to working more closely with other donors to offer the same for 2014. More information is available here

Subject knowledge enhancement course: from SKEC to TREC

Led by Kathryn Wright of Culham St Gabriel's, this course is evolving to meet the changing needs of those who teach RE. To reflect the fact that subject knowledge is not the only training need, and that issues of pedagogy and the rationale for the subject also need to be addressed, the course is changing its name from SKEC to TREC – the Teaching RE Course. A very committed team of tutors support the teachers, trainees and teaching assistants who take the course. Contact Kathryn@cstg.org.uk for more information, or if you know someone who could benefit from the course. 

RE:ONLINE

Led by Dave Francis, www.reonline.org.uk has been through a total transformation and has re-launched with several roadshows in the spring and summer of 2013. Thanks to all those who hosted roadshows. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and has given the team a clear sense of the new developmental challenges: more on primary, revamping ‘People of faith’ to become ‘Email a believer’, and more banquets – sustained, high-quality planning. Contact dave@cstg.org.uk for more details. 

New publications for teaching RE

RE Today has just published the first issue in their new curriculum series of high quality, practical and inspiring classroom activities for primary and secondary RE. ‘RE Ideas: God’, edited by Fiona Moss, explores a major theme in RE with perspectives from Christianity, Hinduism and Islam and a progression grid for teaching about God across the primary school. ‘Essential RE: God’, edited by Stephen Pett, explores ways in which people understand the idea of God and the diverse ways in which people put these beliefs into practice. These publications are available from: shop.retoday.org.uk.

"Unlocking RE in Academies"

Unlocking RE in Academies is a new series of conferences provided by RE Today and NATRE designed to enable teacher to tackle the challenges of RE in new school structures with increasing confidence. They focus on the learning needs of pupils, recognise the challenges presented by RE and support delegates in making the most of the opportunities for thoughtful and creative RE in academies. Conference dates are 17 October (Leicester), 5 November (Bristol), 7 November (Leeds) and 14 November (London). Due to generous funding from the Jerusalem Trust  attendance fees are at a subsidised rate of £65 for ‘early birds’! All conferences are led by the RE Today Adviser team. Further details and how to book are available at www.retoday.org.uk/courses

"Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter"

The Woolf Institute (Cambridge), in partnership with the School of International Service at the American University in Washington, is delighted to announce that the e-learning course Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter, will be offered again in 2014. This 15-week e-learning course will explore the history, culture and theology of Muslims and Jews, reflecting on similarities and differences as well as the major challenges. Assisted by leading scholars in the US and Europe with a wealth of experience in this field, the course will also offer strategies for building bridges between the communities. Applications are now being accepted for the course starting week commencing 13 January 2014. (Deadline:15 November 2013). For further details, including the application form, visit www.woolf.cam.ac.uk/courses.

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 l.whitworth@mdx.ac.uk

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 www.theeverlastingflame.com.

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 http://www.interfaithweek.org/resources/for-schools. Further information: www.interfaithweek.org or from ashley.beck@interfaith.org.uk.

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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