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REC Newsletter January 2013 Print E-mail

Looking ahead to the challenges of 2013 it seems that we in the RE community have a lot of work on our hands if we are to safeguard the future of religious education for our young people. How heartening, then, to know that the REC has 64 member organisations and many more supporters, who, with all their diverse beliefs and worldviews, are pulling together to achieve the same goal. This is always apparent at our Council meetings and Board meetings, which are invariably full of lively, passionate and fascinating discussions. Our member organisations and supporters don’t just “talk the talk”, however –  they take action, getting involved in campaigns, spreading the message about the importance of RE, and “walking the walk”, quite literally this year, as we plan sponsored walks to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the REC and raise vital funds (see news item below). We hope you’ll join us and help make our celebrations  a visible part of community life this spring.



Thank you to everyone who contributed to the consultation process in Phase One of the RE Subject Review. Lorraine Foreman-Peck, the project's external evaluator, has nearly completed her analysis of responses. We will make her report available via the REC's website as soon as possible. Meanwhile Bill Gent, Chair of the expert panel for Phase One, is also considering the high quality information which everyone's responses generated as he prepares the final version of the Phase One report. This will also be available on the REC website very shortly.

The very important process of recruiting four people to the first Task Group for Phase Two of the RE Subject Review is now under way. We anticipate a very strong field given the considerable talent available and plan to announce the names of those people who have been appointed soon after the interviews take place in early January. Phase Two Task Groups will look in more depth and detail at the main concerns of the review, RE and its aims, curriculum, assessment and exemplification of good practice. Further details are available on the REC website.



Four new members have joined the APPG on RE in the last month, two of them as a direct result of approaches by REC members: have you suggested this to your own MP yet?  The new members are Paul Goggins (Lab, Wythenshawe and Sale East), Mark Reckless (Con, Rochester and Strood), Graham Jones (Lab, Hyndburn) and Robert Halfon (Con, Harlow). There has been a good response, particularly from teachers and schools, to the APPG's call for written evidence as part of its inquiry into the supply of and support for teachers of RE. Its second oral evidence session will take place on 16 January at Westminster; as before six speakers will make presentations then take questions from both MPs and members of the public. There are still a few places remaining; if you would like to attend please contact   as soon as possible. 



Plans are afoot across England and Wales for walks and similar events in May 2013 to mark the REC's 40th anniversary, to raise the profile of RE and to raise much needed funds for the REC's work of championing and supporting RE as an essential part of every young person's education. The first issue of the Sponsored Walk Newsletter came out in early December and a second will be published in early January; these give details of walks already in the pipeline, ideas for planning routes, local organising teams, sponsorship and other information. Please help to make this a success, whether by organising, walking yourself or sponsoring somebody else.  Contact   for further information.



The long awaited redevelopment of the REC website has unfortunately not yet come to fruition; the developer was unable to fulfil the contract and as a result plans had to be abandoned. A different web development company has now been employed by the REC and is moving forward quickly with fresh designs; the new website should be up and running by the end of March. The first task of the new developers will be to clear the malware that has affected Celebrating RE and the CPD RE Handbook sites for some time; we hope they will be fully available and safe to use early in the New Year.



This scheme will be publicised to schools early in January. Teachers will be able to select a team of Young Ambassadors from Y5 to Y13 students at their school; the young people will have the chance to receive training in speaking and communication skills, to take part in initiatives to support RE locally, regionally and nationally, including for some the chance to speak to MPs at the summer meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group.  For further information please contact



The Association of Church College Trusts has issued a statement on training to teach religious education in 2013, saying that candidates can train to teach RE  through a PGCE course at 28 universities in England, two in Wales and two in Scotland, and that, although the government no longer provides a bursary for RE, there are other sources of support. For 2013-14, trainees in secondary RE could be eligible to apply to one of the Church College Trusts for a grant towards course costs or living expenses; candidates can check www.cstg.org.uk/acct  for details of the trusts and foundations to which they can apply.



The National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers have launched a joint campaign in response to government proposals to replace GCSEs with English Baccalaureate Certificates. The campaign calls for the consultation period on the proposals to be extended and for a full public debate to take place, involving parents and students as well as teachers and employers, before any final decisions are made. Anyone wishing to support the campaign can sign a petition supporting the call to extend the consultation period.



The deadline for the 2013 Hockerill/NATRE Prize for Innovation in RE teaching is 31 January. There is still time to encourage schools to make an entry and take this opportunity to celebrate their achievements. Enquires can be directed to Rosemary Rivett: 



Culham St Gabriel’s has announced that a major redevelopment of the RE:online website has been taking place over the last year, involving a rebranding and complete restructuring of the site. The site will be divided into five main sections with features including fully searchable links and resources; a teachers’ toolkit for assessing pupils’ progress; an RE Café; TV and radio listings; and a news service. The new site, which is currently being built, will be supported by a series of roadshows to be held across the country in conjunction with the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE), details of which will be published soon; meanwhile, the current site can be accessed here: http://www.reonline.org.uk/


The University of Exeter is offering a free one day workshop introducing a new approach to religious education, as part of its RE-flect programme. Taking place on 14th March at St Luke's Campus, it will show participants how to create a classroom environment based on reflecting on beliefs, values and thinking. For more information, please visit  www.re-flect.org.uk



Two new publications from RE Today are now available: Thankfulness, part of the Opening Up Primary RE series, and Values and Commitments, from the Questions in Secondary RE series. Both publications are full of practical ideas for the classroom and are available from the RE Today website. Subscribers will receive their copy in their January mailing, along with the latest issue of the REtoday magazine.


The Hindu Academy, together with the National Hindu Students Forum, is promoting a series of talks entitled Contemporary and Comprehensive Face of Hinduism, focusing on the teachings of Vivekananda. The National Hindu Students Forum operates 20 Hindu Societies at British universities. Details can be found on Twitter - @hinduacademy



Most cathedrals in the UK - and many abbeys, minsters, shrines and greater churches - have someone who is responsible for education, for welcoming school groups into their place of worship and for providing a teaching experience for thousands of pupils every year. As well as studying the history of the building, school groups go to these places of worship to study, amongst other subjects, maths, English, art and business studies, as well as to take part in pilgrimages and sixth form conferences - although the main reason for the existence of the buildings, Christianity, is always inherent in their visits. There is more information available on the website of Cathedrals Plus - the umbrella organisation for the Education Officers as well as those responsible for visitor care.



Over the past eight years, the Jerusalem Trust Religious Education Small Grants Scheme has distributed over £300,000 to secondary schools to support the teaching of Christianity within religious education. Schools can apply for grants of up to £500 to purchase resources for use in RE lessons, including textbooks, artefacts, DVDs, CD-Roms and class sets of Bibles.



In November the Tony Blair Faith Foundation launched a religious reconciliation programme in Nigeria. Derby High School students, already part of the Foundation’s global education programme, Face to Faith, connected with Muslim and Christian students, Tony Blair and Bishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury Designate,  via video-conference link in Abuja, Nigeria. The event’s aim was to encourage greater dialogue and understanding between the faiths and it attracted coverage from ITV.



The Events and Exhibitions phase of the JAINpedia project came to an end with the Dazzling Diwali event at the Victoria and Albert Museum – visit the blog to read more about it. The JAINpedia website continues to develop and the most recent set of articles explore the subject of deities in Jainism. For further information about the project please email 



The British Humanist Association is supporting a drive to send a copy of The Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God to all secondary schools in England and Wales. The YAH4Schools campaign was conceived by science teacher and blogger Ian Horsewell.



Earlier this year, the Diocese of Norwich published a resource to support schools promoting spiritual, moral, social and cultural development from a Christian perspective. This resource (including online support) shows schools how they can promote these important areas of personal development, unpacking the theology of each.  Copies can be purchased from the Diocese of Norwich website.



If you have any news or information on developments in RE related to your organisation which you would like to be included in the next edition of the newsletter, please send it to  by Monday, 14th January. Items should be in the form of two or three sentences with relevant weblinks or email addresses.


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