November 2016

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RE Council Second Regular General Meeting

On 2nd November, the Second Regular General Meeting of the Religious Education Council brought together representatives from across more than 60 member organisations at the Oshwal Ekta Centre in Kingsbury, London. Members were welcomed by Chair of the REC, Professor Trevor Cooling, and CEO Rudolf Eliott Lockhart, given an update of the REC's current work and a preview of the website for the Commission on Religious Education.

Colleagues heard from PB Consulting about the work of the joint RE PR group, and about the importance of political lobbying in raising the profile of RE among parliamentarians. PB Consulting's work for the RE PR group includes providing a political monitoring service, assisting in the planning for the RE stand at the political party conferences, and setting up meetings between members of the RE PR group and MPs. 

In the afternoon session, representatives from RE Today, the British Humanist Association and the Board of Deputies of British Jews spoke to the Council about new teaching resources which were available on ChristianityHumanism and Judaism.

Colleagues were also pleased to be able to see the Oshwal Ekta Centre's exhibition on the origins of Jainism. The REC is extremely grateful for the hospitality shown to us by the Jain community at the meeting.

The RE Council's next Annual General Meeting will be held on 11th May at Neasden Temple in London.

Commission on Religious Education

On Thursday 3 and Friday 4 November 2016 the first meeting of the Commission on Religious Education took place at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.  All fourteen members of the Commission were present.

The Commissioners were welcomed by the Chair, the Very Revd Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster. Trevor Cooling, Chair of the REC, explained how pleased he was that the REC had been able to establish the Commission, but that now it was having its first meeting it was important to stress its full independence from the REC. Trevor has written of his optimism about the Commission on the REC blog.
The Commissioners have a very wide range of relevant expertise both from within the Religious Education community, and from outside it.  They come from a range of faith and belief backgrounds. There are people with experience of teaching in primary, secondary, Further Education and Higher Education.  They have experience in classroom teaching as well as school leadership. There are Commissioners with expertise in school governance, teacher training, and inspection.  Other Commissioners have expertise in religion and human rights law, and religion and the media.  All of the Commissioners are committed to supporting high quality religious education.
The first meeting was a very positive occasion which showed the breadth and depth of experience of the Commissioners. Progress was made and we look forward to carrying on the process at our meeting in March in Limehouse, East London.

Visit the new Commission on RE website to read the latest Commission newscontribute ideas and submit evidence to the Commission, and to sign up to receive news alerts. 

RE Quality Mark

The fourth annual RE Quality Mark conference for schools receiving the award will be held on 25th February at Canterbury Christchurch University. Full details will be in next month's newsletter and on the REQM website.

For more information about the REQM, please visit the REQM website and follow the scheme on Twitter at @REQualityMark.

Young Ambassadors for RE

Young Ambassadors have submitted a mini-assignment answering the question What does it mean to be a Young Ambassador for RE? Their responses will be published shortly on the Young Ambassadors' section of the REC website.

There are also plans for the YAs from different schools across the country to visit each other at their schools, so that they can learn from each others' work.

RE PD Portal

The RE PD portal is managed by the REC and 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

Deborah Weston, REC Board member, receives OBE

On 11th October, Deborah Weston received her OBE from HRH Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, for services to Religious Education, and inter and intra-faith dialogue. Deborah is Chair of the RE PR Group, is on the NATRE Executive Steering Group and returns to the Board of the REC as a co-opted member.

Talking about the importance of Religious Education, Deborah says, ‘Religious Education has never been more important to our children and young people, their understanding of the world we live in, and the different communities in which they will live and work. You only have to look at the daily news headlines to see this. So when the importance of RE is acknowledged like this it’s not just a boost to me personally, it’s also a public recognition of the excellent work that teachers of RE across the country do every day to broaden their students’ knowledge and understanding of religions and beliefs. I want to say to all of them that this award honours them too for helping the next generation to become the kind of adults who are not only well informed about religion and belief but who also realise that if we truly treat people with respect and understanding we can only make the world a better and safer place.'

RE teacher survey interim results

The interim results for the What is RE for? RE teachers survey (as of 1st November) are now available to download here.
RE teachers (at all levels) who have not yet completed the survey still have time to do so. The survey link is: and has been set up by Mark Plater at Bishop Grosseteste University (

Hindu Council UK

At a recent talk at Eton College, the following themes were explored:
  • The distinction between dharma (the four Indic traditions) and religions (the three Abrahamic traditions)
  • The historicity of Hinduism, the definition of founders & who is the supreme God.
Access the video here to view the whole talk.

Board of Deputies of British Jews

Judaism GCSE Religious Studies: The Definitive Resource
This publication is now available in print and PDF formats, and can be ordered through the Board of Deputies website. To download a free sample, please click here
The Jewish Living Experience Exhibition (JLE)
There will be exhibitions hosted by Coleg Cambria in Wrexham, North Wales, from 14th to 24th November and in St Albans from 28th November to 9th December. The launch and teacher training will take place on 14th November in Wrexham. If members of the RE Council wish to visit or be invited to the launch event, please email

Free book for schools: What is Humanism?

The British Humanist Association have free copies of the book What is Humanism? by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young to give to schools in the UK.

The book is a fantastic resource that will enable young people, whatever their background, to learn what Humanism is, and discover how many non-religious people try to live happy, ethical, and fulfilling lives in the here and now. It provides young people with an opportunity to explore the impact of humanist thinking on our country’s identity and culture, to hear from prominent thinkers and celebrities who identify with the label ‘humanist’, and to understand how humanists approach some of life’s biggest questions. It should also be a helpful resource for teachers planning and preparing lessons on Humanism.

To request your copy of this free book, please complete the short form here.

E-learning course: Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter

E-learning course, Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter provides a refreshing perspective on the relations between Jews and Muslims.
Delivered by Dr Edward Kessler (Woolf Institute, Cambridge) and Professor Akbar Ahmed (American University in Washington), 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. The course will also offer strategies for building bridges between the communities.
The closing date for applications is 20 December 2016. The course starts on Tuesday 17 January 2017. The application form is available to download here. The course fee is £465. A limited number of bursaries are available.
If you have any queries about the course, please contact Dr Emma Harris at or find out more at

RE Today courses

RE Today’s latest CPD opportunities are now up on the website. This terms courses cover an array of RE related topics suitable for teachers of all key stages.

Primary: Teaching 3 Religions, Creative Primary RE, Understanding Christianity and Help! I’m the RE Subject Leader
Secondary: GCSE RS renewed, Understanding Christianity

Visit the RE today website  to find out more and book your place.

Teach RE courses

There are now four courses available! These have been tailored for those entering Secondary ITT, those already teaching RE in both primary and secondary schools, those entering primary ITT/primary NQTs and those who want to brush up on subject knowledge to teach the new GCSE and A level courses. There is something for everyone.
For more information see

London Is Open film for Inter Faith Week

In step with the Mayor of London’s #LondonIsOpen message, a short film has been shot by the London Boroughs Faiths Network on location across the capital, and includes Sikh, Quaker, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist & Baha’i places opening their doors.

Strictly RE Conference

Strictly RE, the National Association of Teachers of RE’s (NATRE) national conference returns to central London for another engaging and inspiring day on 28th January 2017. Dedicated to all RE professionals, there will be something for everyone: from ITTs to heads of RE, subject leaders to headteachers and everyone in between. Enjoy a day full of thought-provoking keynotes and practical seminars filled with classroom-ready ideas.
Price: £175
Visit the NATRE website to book your place today.

Since 9/11 National Education Conference

The SINCE 9/11 National Education Conference offers a unique opportunity for school leaders across the country to come together to discuss how to promote tolerance, and respect for all faith and religions. The conference will be held on Friday 27 January, with opportunities to access free classroom resources, network with other school leaders and hear from inspiring speakers on:
  • Whole school approaches to meeting the prevent duty and promoting fundamental British values
  • How to tackle controversial and socially sensitive topics in the classroom and beyond
  • The role of schools in bringing together communities.
To register for the conference, and access the education programme online, visit

Teaching Islam Conference

Following a successful conference earlier this year, there will be another conference on teaching Islam for the new GCSE Religious Studies, with the first examinations in 2018. It will include presentations from exam boards, workshops on subject content, an exhibition of Islamic art work, lunch and a tour of the Imam Khoei Islamic Centre. For more information, please download the conference flyer.

Date: 2 February 2017, 9.30 - 15.45.
Venue: The Al Khoei Foundation, Chevening Road, London, NW6 6TN
Cost: £100 if booked by 16 December, £130 thereafter.

To register, contact: Ms Siddika Ghulamhussain at or phone 020 7372 4049

Lincolnshire RE Hub: Lincoln walkabout

On 20th October, ten members of the Lincolnshire RE Hub participated in a Lincoln walkabout and afternoon discussion on the future of Religious Education in schools. The group was a mix of BGU staff, primary and secondary school teachers, and the diocesan RE adviser.  The morning consisted of short visits to Bailgate Methodist Church, the Cathedral, the Lincoln Mosque, and the city Alive Church and centre.  At each place we were welcomed and introduced to the distinctiveness and activities of that group, and given the opportunity to ask questions.  After a delicious lunch at the Alive church’s Rising Café, we spent our final few hours considering how Religious Education in schools has changed over the past fifty years, what are the kinds of issues it presently faces, and what it is likely to look like in the future.  The day had originally been intended as a full day conference (called RE-direction) at BGU with visiting speakers, but when insufficient numbers applied and it was clear that we would not cover costs, the above day was set up as an alternative. The day proved to be a great success, showing that good things can come from our everyday disappointments!!

Mark Plater, Bishop Grosseteste University

Jewish and Muslim communities jointly mark Sukkot

On the 23rd October, the community of Brondesbury Synagogue gathered at the Al Khoei Foundation to jointly mark the festival of Sukkot, translated as the Feast of Tabernacles. A sukkah was constructed for a week at the Al Khoei Foundation by members of both the Muslim and Jewish communities. The community then visited the Imam Khoei Islamic Centre where they learnt about Ashura and Imam Hussain (AS). Interestingly, the Imam Khoei Islamic Centre was formerly a  synagogue, built in 1905, and there were members of the Jewish community present who used to attend the services when the building was a synagogue. There were lots of young people and many of the elders felt that was very important. The atmosphere was excellent and everybody shared the Interfaith Breakfast. 
© 2016 
Religious Education Council 
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