December 2014

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November is always a busy month for the RE Council, as it holds its second regular general meeting, an opportunity for members to come together and discuss the work of the RE Council. This year we were fortunate to have an address by Mr Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Reform, who was able to announce the imminent publication of the qualifications reform consultation. The meeting was hosted by the Zoroastrian Centre in Harrow and members had the chance to go on a tour of the centre with ZC President Malcolm Deboo, which was much appreciated.

RE Council appoints a CEO

The REC is delighted to announce the appointment of its first chief executive officer: Rudolf Eliott Lockhart.  Dr Joyce Miller, Chair of the RE Council, writes:  'Rudi will be joining us on 1 February and I would like to congratulate him and to welcome him to the REC. Rudi Eliott Lockhart writes: ‘It is a huge privilege to be taking up the position of Chief Executive Officer at the Religious Education Council of England and Wales.  The REC is an outstanding organisation that has been working tirelessly to promote high quality religious education.   I am looking forward to working with colleagues from across the REC’s member organisations to build on this good work’

GCSE and A Level reform: Religious Studies

The RE Council of England and Wales welcomes the consultation on the criteria for GCSE and A Level examinations in Religious Studies and is pleased that its officers and member organisations have contributed to the process which has been led by the Department for Education. We will be encouraging our member organisations to join us in responding to the consultation document and hope that there will now be an informed public debate to which teachers, school leaders, governors and everyone committed to high quality religious education will contribute. The consultation closes at 5pm on 28 December 2014. Ofqual is consulting in parallel on the assessment arrangements for all subjects, closing on 5 January 2015, and its consultation can be viewed here.

Young Ambassadors for RE

The Young Ambassadors have had an exciting month, with four of the teams attending the annual ya4RE conference in London on 10 November. During the conference Sara Pascoe, stand-up comedian and one of the RE Council’s new patrons, led a discussion session about RE and humour, and whether and when it was acceptable to make jokes about religion. The Young Ambassadors were highly engaged and gave excellent feedback. Their next projects will be on how we can recruit applicants to train as RE teachers from autumn 2015  now that bursaries have been reinstated for RE trainees and the allocated number of training places has gone up.

Applications to the YA scheme are assessed on a rolling basis, and so if you know of any schools which might be interested in taking part, please spread the word! Further information and an application form can be found on the RE Council website, and in this term’s YA newsletter

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

RE Quality Mark

The REQM project will be holding its second conference for schools which have achieved the REQM on Saturday 7 February in Birmingham, thanks to generous support from the Hockerill Educational Foundation, at which Rebecca Nye will be speaking about her research into children’s spirituality. More information is available on the REQM site, or by e-mailing The REQM is available for schools of all types; further details on all aspects of the programme are on its website at

New on the RE Council website

New items on the RE Council website this month include:

Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life: extension of public consultation

The Commission's aims are to consider the place and role of religion and belief in contemporary Britain, and the significance of emerging trends and identities; to examine how ideas of Britishness and national identity may be inclusive of a range of religions and beliefs, and may in turn influence people's self-understanding; to explore how shared understandings of the common good may contribute to greater levels of mutual trust and collective action, and to a more harmonious society and to make recommendations for public life and policy. It is currently carrying out a consultation on these issues which may be seen at  The deadline for responses has now been extended to 31 December 2014.

Application deadline: 'Bridging the Great Divide'

The e-learning course, ‘Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter’ is a 15-week e-learning course, which explores the history, culture and theology of Muslims and Jews, reflecting on similarities and differences as well as major challenges. Led by Dr Edward Kessler (Woolf Institute, Cambridge) and Professor Akbar Ahmed (American University in Washington), the course allows participants to study wherever and whenever they choose via the internet. The closing date for applications is 5 December 2014, and the course commences on 12 January 2015. Application forms and further details of the course, including costs, is available on the Woolf Institute website, or by e-mailing Emma Harris on

New: Online Primary Seminar from RE Today Services

Christmas in RE: beyond sheep and Santa? Led by: by Lat Blaylock, RE Today Adviser, Date: Tuesday 9 December at 4pm - 5.15pm, Cost: £30 with discounts available for NATRE members. No supply cover required – delivered to teachers in the comfort of their desk!

Full of practical classroom ideas for teaching Christmas to pupils aged 4-11, ready to use and fully demonstrated. The ideas will show how pupils across the primary age range can show progress in their learning from Christmas. Find out more

Joint letter opposing exclusion of Humanism in GCSE and A Level Religious Studies

Over 100 RE academics, advisors, consultants, teachers, philosophers and children’s authors have now signed an open letter to Nick Gibb, being organised by the BHA, calling for an annex on Humanism to be added to the GCSE Religious Studies subject criteria. The BHA is continuing to collect signatures on this matter - if you wish to sign, please email

Request for responses: research project on the conscience clause in RE

Razmin Kamali is a trainee teacher studying Primary Education with Theology and RE at Newman University. Razmin has decided to conduct her research project on the subject of: ‘Should the conscience clause be permitted to remain for Religious Education in the 21st century if the subject is to be a truly statutory part of the curriculum?’. Razmin understands the relevance of the conscience clause to collective worship, but wonders in particular why the conscience clause remains for RE, given that it has changed drastically from the time when the conscience clause was devised and when RE was more about religious instruction than learning about religions and beliefs. Razmin would welcome responses to her question by e-mail at

Job opportunity: General Inspector / Adviser for Primary RE, Hampshire County Council

Hampshire County Council is currently recruiting for a General Inspector / Adviser for Primary RE. The contract is permanent, and part time at 21 hours per week. The successful candidate will join a strong country-wide team of inspectors and advisers offering professional support, challenge and intellectual stimulus to a diverse community of schools. The post is home based with good support from a local education office. The closing date for applications is 6 January 2014, and further details are available here.

Farmington Fellowships for teachers of RE: Open for 2015

Details have now been published of the Farmington Fellowships for 2012-2013, which are open to secondary and primary school teachers, teachers of RE to children with Special Educational Needs, and headteachers. The fellowships enable teachers to undertake research on aspects of teaching RE in schools, and to further their own professional development. The Fellowship will cover the cost of tuition, board and lodging where appropriate, essential local travel and, by negotiation with the school, the salary of a replacement teacher up to point 6 of the main pay scale. The deadline for applications is 26 January 2015, and more information can be found on the Farmington Institute website

Strictly RE: the first ever NATRE National Conference

Date: 31 January 2015, Venue: Grand Connaught Rooms, London, Fee: £150 including lunch, all refreshments and hand-outs. Many presentations will be available to download online after the event.

NATRE is delighted to invite you to its 1st national conference, Strictly RE. This conference has been designed with you in mind, with practical, thought-provoking sessions and great networking opportunities to share ideas and invigorate your RE teaching. With 16 diverse seminars there is something for everyone, from ITTs to headteachers, subject leaders to RE advisers and everyone in between. Find out more

ISRSA annual teachers' CPD Conference

On Wednesday 19th November the Independent Schools Religious Studies Association (ISRSA) held their annual teachers’ CPD conference at Southwark Cathedral. The conference was attended by over 100 delegates from Independent Schools across the country and included a range of seminars and a keynote address, ‘Lessons from Narnia: Intellect and Imagination in Religious Education’ by Professor Alister McGrath (Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford), in which he reflected on the many facets of C.S. Lewis’ thought which are relevant to Religious Studies today.  Professor McGrath’s most recent book on C.S. Lewis is  ‘Deep Magic, Dragons and Talking Mice: How Reading C.S. Lewis Can Change Your Life’ (April 2014)

ISRSA announces progress on new Theology and Philosophy iGCSE

During the ISRSA annual CPD conference at Southwark Cathedral, Michael Wilcockson (OCR A Level Chief Examiner for Religious Studies and Head of Philosophy at Eton) announced progress on the development of the ISRSA proposed ‘Theology and Philosophy’ iGCSE.  The qualification is gaining official support with a large examination board and there was a great deal of interest in this exciting new initiative.

'Faith on the Air'

‘Faith on the Air’ is a Leverhulme Trust-funded project led by Professor Stephen Parker from the University of Worcester, on the history of religious educational broadcasting in the UK since 1920. This project will attempt to capture and reconstruct this distinctive thread of the history of religious/school broadcasting and will focus upon the ways in which religion was represented in various outputs (including documentary sources), for children and young people across decades during which significant religious change occurred. It will explore the interface between religious, media and educational history and various ways each impacted upon one another through dominant discourses in circulation about religion and education, and by the crossover of personnel between the fields of RE and broadcasting. More information can be found on the Faith on the Air blog page

Diocese of Norwich SMSC publication

‘Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural Development: A Christian perspective’ was published by the Diocese of Norwich in 2012. The publication is now available as a free download via the Diocesan website. It includes examples and case studies of how schools can promote SMSC development, including through RE. 

News from the Hindu Council UK

On Sunday 19 October, Olly Smith on Good Morning Sunday hosted Jay Lakhani from the Hindu Council UK, for a ‘moment of reflection’ during which Jay responded to the question of why 16-18 year olds are moving away from religion and becoming atheists, and how atrocities committed in the name of religion can be stopped. The clip is now available to listen to on the Hindu Council’s YouTube channel.

Inter Faith Week success

Inter Faith Week took place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 16-22 November, with a special event on 13 November: ‘Young Voices, Young Agents for Change’ which focused on inter faith education and activity developed for and with young people. The conference included plenary contributions from Dr Joyce Miller, Chair of the RE Council, and from NASACRE which also helped to sponsor the event; there were also presentations from students from schools in Ilford and Bolton involved in young faith and belief ambassador schemes.  The Inter Faith Network for the UK, which leads on Inter Faith Week, says that it has been even more successful this year and there has been high involvement from young people.  Schools have been very much involved in this year’s Inter Faith and IFW would be very pleased to receive photographs and accounts of RE related Inter Faith Week events:

Teach:RE Course

Culham St Gabriel’s are delighted to announce a ‘bulk buy’ offer for universities who would like ITT students to undertake the TeachRE course. Please contact for more information about this offer. In addition, a powerpoint presentation about the course is now available to view and use at


This scheme to support those undertaking a Masters with an RE focus still has a very small number of places available for 2014-15. Please see for more information.
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