July 2016

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What's new at the REC? 

The event of the month was undoubtedly the Young Ambassadors' conference, held at Conway Hall on 6th June. It was an opportunity for Young Ambassadors for RE from around the country to come together, present their work to each other and share ideas on how best to promote RE and religious literacy within their communities and beyond. This event is to be followed by a Youth Debate taking place at Westminster on 13th July, where teams will debate with each other on themes relating to religious literacy, and have the opportunity to meet and speak to MPs about the importance of RE. We are pleased to report that RE Council CEO Rudolf Eliott Lockhart has recently had a number of very positive meetings with MPs and with Schools' Minister Nick Gibb, which you can read more about here.
In other news, we were delighted and thrilled to hear that our colleagues Deborah Weston and Harshad Sanghrajka were named in the Queen's Birthday Honours, receiving an OBE and MBE respectively; please see below for more details. 

RE Council Second Regular General Meeting

We will look forward to seeing authorised representatives of the REC's member organisations at the next Second Regular General Meeting (SRGM) to be held from 11.00 - 16.00 on 2nd November 2016 at the Ekta Oshwal Centre (366A Stag Lane, Kingsbury, London, NW9 9AA). We are grateful to the Ekta Oshwal Centre for agreeing to host this meeting, and to our colleagues at the Institute of Jainology for facilitating this.

Young Ambassadors' Conference

The REC was delighted to bring together six teams of Young Ambassadors for RE from around the country to present the research they had done on the various worldviews they had chosen to look at for the assignment they had been set; these included Jainism, Zoroastrianism, the Bahá'í faith, the Quakers, Modern Kadampa Buddhism and Sufism. The teams also made suggestions as to what people could learn from the traditions and beliefs of the followers of their chosen worldview, and how this would better prepare people for life in modern Britain. 

We were very pleased that Lord Winston was able to attend to speak to the Young Ambassadors about his views on faith and science. REC Patron and film-maker Deepak Verma was also in attendance for some of the conference and has expressed his enthusiasm for working with the YAs in the future. 

The RE Council is extremely grateful for all of the work that the thirteen teams of Young Ambassadors have done to promote RE this year, and we're very much looking forward to continuing to work with them in the coming year.

For a fuller report on the conference, sent in by Lucy Bayliss and Monty Moran from Amery Hill School in Hampshire, please click here.

We are currently looking for a new Young Ambassadors' Co-ordinator or co-ordinators to help run the Young Ambassadors' scheme from September. More information about the role is available on the REC website.

Former REC Board members named in Queen's Birthday Honours

The RE Council was thrilled to learn that Deborah Weston has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Religious Education and inter and intra-faith dialogue. Deborah has been both friend and officer of the REC for many years, most recently serving as our Company Secretary until summer 2015, and now as Chair of the joint RE PR Group.

We were also delighted that the work of our colleague from the Institute of Jainology and former REC Board member, Harshad Sanghrajka, has been honoured with an MBE for services to the community and for his inter-faith work. Harshad is pictured below with the team of Young Ambassadors from St Bede's Interchurch School in Cambridge at the Young Ambassadors' Conference.

RE Quality Mark

Over a hundred schools have applied to be assessed for an RE Quality Mark award since September, with a number of schools re-applying to renew their awards. The success of the project has been largely thanks to Project Managers Jane Brooke and Mary Myatt, who founded and developed the scheme in 2012 and have ensured that it has gone from strength to strength. As Jane and Mary will be stepping down this summer, the REC is currently in the process of recruiting a new project manager. We are extremely grateful to them for their hard work and dedication to project, which ensures that high quality RE in schools is recognised and rewarded. 
For more information about the REQM, please visit the REQM website and follow the scheme on Twitter at @REQualityMark.

Remembering John Hull

Friend, colleague, teacher and an inspiration to many, a memorial service will be held for Professor John Hull on 20th July at Carrs Lane Church in Birmingham from 7.00pm. It will be an evening of music, tributes and thanksgiving, and there will also be a screening of 'Notes on Blindness', a film based on John's book Touching the Rock.

Prior booking is recommended, and can be done by contacting Carrs Lane office at

Accord Inclusivity Award 2016

The Chestnut Grove Academy in Balham, south London, has won first place in the 2016 Accord Inclusivity Awards. The school drew widespread praise from the judging panel for providing a variety of activities and teaching that promoted a culture of tolerance and explored, in detail, a range of contentious social and religious issues. Chair of the judging panel, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said ‘Some schools shy away from controversial issues or trends out of a misplaced sense of trying not to offend or disadvantage any particular group; Chestnut Grove shows schools can explore such topics in ways that are both challenging and thoughtful, and so better prepare pupils for citizenship in a diverse society.’ The other members of the judging panel were: 
- Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of Education Select Committee
- Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chancellor of the University of Northampton 
- Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham
- Professor Linda Woodhead, Lancaster University 

Hindu Council UK

In this video, colleagues from the Hindu Council have been taking questions on Hinduism from boys at Eton college, exploring themes such as Zoroastrians and Hindus; Science: a threat to all religions; text torturing; and cults.

ISKCON Hinduism resource for RE Teachers

ISKCON now has revised editions of Creation: a story from ancient India in stock. The book is priced at £13.99 and for a limited period REC members will be able to purchase the book at the discounted price of £10.99. This illustrated book brings alive the ancient Hindu story of Creation, and is ideal for use with RE students at Key Stages 2 and 3. To order the book, or to request a leaflet, please email

This is also a new addition to the student resources on ISKCON's website, aimed at primary level. Students can now build an altar and print out their work.

Institute of Jainology

The Institute of Jainology is proud to support Dr Patrick Krueger, a scholar in Jainology from Leipzig University in his research project on Jain art history and religion, titled ‘The Visualisation of the Dharma – New Perspectives of the Origin and the Meaning of the Jina Image and the Beginning of Jan Image Worshipping’, at Kaete Hamburger Kolleg at Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
The Institute of Jainology’s  Deputy Chairman, Dr Harshad N Sanghrajka, was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for services to the community and inter-faith work this year. You can read more here. For more information on The Institute of Jainology, visit the website:


The latest article on the JAINpedia site (an online encyclopaedia on the Jain faith) has been written by Julia Hegewald on ‘Mandapa-line Temples’. Read the article here.
For more information about the Institute of Jainology or the JAINpedia project, please email: or visit

Shap eCalendar and Wallchart for 2016-2017

The 47th edition of the Shap eCalendar of Religious Festivals, recognised as a leader in its field, will be available in August. This publication will be of great use and value for schools, organisations or individuals involved in religious education. 
More details can be found at: or contact Shap at

Understanding Christianity

The Understanding Christianity project was launched on 26th May. Training for ‘Accredited trainers’ is well under way and the first CPD days for teachers will begin in September. Understanding Christianity is a substantial resource to support teaching about Christianity in RE. It is for teachers and includes a Teachers' Handbook, 29 units of work from Foundation Stage to year 9, introductory booklets for each key stage and more than 150 photocopiable worksheets. It is supported by a specially designed ‘Big Story’ frieze and a dedicated website:

European Forum of Teachers of RE Conference

The 13th triennial European Forum of Teachers of RE (EFTRE) conference will be based at the University of Vienna, in the heart of the beautiful Austrian capital, and will take place from 31st August - 3rd September. The theme for 2016 is BELIEVING, BELONGING, BEHAVING. This meeting of teachers, trainers and academics working in the field of education is a rare opportunity to meet colleagues and practitioners from across Europe. There will be workshops and keynotes alongside networking opportunities.
For more details, visit the EFTRE website or contact

Conference on teaching the new GCSE RS Islam

The Al Khoei Foundation (Chevening Road, London, NW6 6TN) is holding a full day conference on 14th July 2016 on the new GCSE Religious Studies, teaching Islam as the second religion. Examiners from the main examining boards, including AQA, OCR and Pearson, will be presenting, and workshops will be led by leading educators and a number of Muslim scholars on different areas of the new syllabus.
For further information or if you would like to register please contact: 

Teach RE course

There are now four distinct courses to meet different training needs. These range from a course suitable for primary ITT, to one designed for secondary specialists who want to boost their subject knowledge to teach the new GCSE and A level. Details of all four courses can be found at:

Words beyond words: Inspiring religious literacy

This joint conference between NATRE, AULRE and AREIAC has been designed to bring together the wider RE community from classroom teachers to inspectors, ITTs to renowned academics and everyone in between.
Come and join colleagues for a weekend of stimulating professional development on Saturday 8th October – Sunday 9th October 2016 at the Mercure Blackburn Dunkenhalgh Hotel & Spa. Price of £150 includes accommodation, all meals and refreshments.
Click here to book your place online or email to request a booking form.

ISRSA 2016 Conference

The Independent Schools' Religious Studies Association will be holding its annual conference and professional development day on 21st November 2016 at Senate House in London. The theme of the conference will be 'Classrooms without walls: Religious Studies at the Heart of the Curriculum'. This year's keynote speaker will be David Hampshire, who will speak on the topic 'Religious Education: the Janus subject. Whither is the treasure?' 

The conference offers excellent CPD for prep and senior schools from specialists in RE pedagogy, from all the major exam boards (AQA, OCR, Eduqas and Pre-U) and from university Theology and Philosophy departments.

Download the conference programme: ISRSA Conference 2016
Contact to book a place.

Huge demand for funding at Westhill

The Birmingham-based funder has reported a 105% increase in the number of grant applications that it has received in the past 12 months. As a result, Westhill Endowment Trust has invested £335,000 in 100 projects throughout the UK. “Sadly, not everyone is successful,” says Richard Dickson, Clerk at Westhill, “but we’re very conscious of the huge amount of innovative and creative work being done to increase religious understanding.”

RE teachers’ survey: What is RE for?

Mark Plater, Senior Lecturer in Theology at Bishop Grosseteste University, would like to know what teachers of RE at primary, secondary and special schools think is the primary purpose of the subject. Teachers are therefore invited to complete the following short survey, which can be accessed at:   

Full individual confidentiality is guaranteed. For more information, contact Mark Plater:

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
© 2016 
Religious Education Council 
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