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Issue: 6

This issue includes:

NASACRE Annual Conference and AGM 2015

Date: Thursday 21st May 2015 11:00am - 4:30pm

Venue: The Council House, Birmingham

Cost: £90 per delegate

Meeting the Challenge

Keynote speaker: Charles Clarke 
Visiting Professor in Politics at the University of East Anglia
Seminar leaders:
Denise Cush
Professor of Religion and Education at Bath Spa University

Mary Myatt
Lead Ofsted inspector, Culham St Gabriel’s Lead Consultant for Teacher Conferences, adviser, writer and trainer
Provisional programme

11:00 Arrival, registration and coffee
11:30 Welcome and introductions 
11:40 Keynote address: Charles Clarke
12:10 Question time
12:45 Business meeting
1:30 Lunch

The afternoon will comprise seminar addresses from Denise Cush and Mary Myatt, with opportunities for SACREs to ask questions, share, discuss and reflect before the announcement of the Westhill awards and closing remarks from our new Chair. 

4:30 Conference closes


Could you be the next Vice Chair of NASACRE?

Our chair, Lesley Prior writes:

At the AGM in May, my two year tenure as Chair of NASACRE will be over and David Hampshire will take on this role. However, I will not step down, as I will become Executive Assistant and support David and other members of the Executive in our ongoing work. 

As David becomes Chair, we will be looking for someone who can take on the Vice Chair role. Could you be that person? In essence, it is a six year commitment, so not something to be considered lightly. There is an information paper about the roles of Vice Chair, Chair and Executive Assistant on the website.

Having read this information document, if you are interested and want further information, please email me.

Young People and the Inter Faith scene

Michael Metcalf, NASACRE's Treasurer and our representative on the Inter Faith Network, describes the launch event for InterFaith Week 2014.

On Thursday 13th November in London, the Inter Faith Network (UK), or IFN, held a celebration and launch event for Inter Faith Week 2014, with the rather unwieldy but pertinent title: Young Voices, Young Agents for Change: Spotlight on inter faith activity and education developed with and for Young People. NASACRE was well represented at this event, with a display stall staffed by myself, and with NASACRE’s Chair facilitating one of the breakout groups, alongside a modest contribution made by NASACRE to the cost of the day.

The focus on young people was evident both in the programme for the event and also in the forty or so exhibitors, all of whom were involved in one way or another in inter faith activity with young people. Some of the exhibitors, such as the RE Council and NASACRE itself, related to RE and schools, but the great and impressive majority were from the voluntary sector and operated largely in the wider community. 

Special mention should be made of the group representing Redbridge SACRE’s Ambassadors of Faith and Belief. They had their own display stall, had several Young Ambassadors present, and gave input to one of the breakout groups. Three young people gave short addresses to the whole meeting, including a Redbridge Ambassador. (The others were from Bolton’s Inter Faith Youth Ambassadors, and from Interfaith Scotland.) Readers may recall that Redbridge SACRE received a Westhill/NASACRE Award a year ago to support the development of their Ambassador project.
The event was undoubtedly a success, and Inter Faith Week 2014 was duly given a hearty and enthusiastic launch. There was also much networking and sharing of ideas and good practice, and much to congratulate and welcome. The IFN seems to have become noticeably more youth-aware and youth-oriented over the last decade, and NASACRE can probably claim to have been a significant mover in this. At the same time, the event was a reminder that we still have much to learn about respecting the potential of young people in the inter faith field and about finding effective and collaborative ways to develop and empower that potential.

RE Council Professional Development Portal

The PD Portal on the RE Council website describes itself as ‘a one stop shop for teachers and others involved in RE to find out about professional development opportunities of all kinds.’
It contains: 
  • a Professional Development Database
  • the RE CPD Handbook
  • a series of helpful documents and articles
  • links to relevant websites
If your SACRE is 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.

The PD Portal contains a great deal of useful and relevant information for your SACRE and schools.

What's on the website?

Executive member Elizabeth Jenkerson writes:

One of the benefits of membership in NASACRE is access to the complete NASACRE website. Regularly updated, the website is very useful for newcomers to the world of RE as well as veteran professionals. Someone newly appointed to an RE role wrote:

I had found the sections on news and reports really useful to be able to read around on the website. Examples of documents such as a code of conduct have given me food for thought and questions to raise. Also the links to organisations all in one place gives me confidence I can get accurate and hopefully high quality information quickly instead of "googling" and then spending a lot of time reading information that may not be accurate, appropriate or helpful.

Need some ideas for an explanation of RE? Have a glance at the annual reports of different SACREs. Here are some extracts:  

What can Abraham and the Buddha say about nuclear weapons or abortion? Can we listen to the Kings Saul and David about friendship, leadership or ethnic cleansing? So how do sacred works written down hundreds or thousands of years ago speak to and influence people in (what some people call) this twenty-first century? Or how do those pupils and students with non-religious views address major ethical issues and everyday choices?

Teaching children to think critically is not simply getting them to accept particular paradigms as axiomatic, rather it is to give them the opportunity to examine and challenge any ‘orthodoxy’ as they grow into mature adults in a structured and coherent way. Developing the faculty of critical thinking is served by well taught religious education, as noted in the Ofsted report: Religious Education – realising the potential, which was discussed by SACRE in November.

Have you considered the issue of religious dress as a part of the school uniform? See the FAQs for the legal implications and examples of decisions. If you’re in Group A what are your responsibilities to your parent body? See the FAQs!

Other questions answered? What are Westhill/NASACRE Awards? What’s in a code of conduct? A constitution?

And if you can’t find what you need, just ask!

RE Expert Advisory Group

An update from Debbie Tibbey, Chair of the RE EAG and NASACRE Executive Member

The RE EAG (Expert Advisory Group) has been working over the past 6 months to produce guidance materials on curriculum design and resources to accompany the Non-Statutory Curriculum Framework in the RE Review. Members from faith schools, teachers across the phases, higher education and RE organisations are working together to develop these materials. 

In common with other subject EAGs, there is a limited budget but also a fair amount of good will: we have managed two conference days, three core-group meetings and several teachers’ groups collating lists of useful resources for delivery of effective RE. When complete, the materials will be hosted on RE Online, as the systems are in place there to maintain and update them. Links will be included on other sites such as the RE Council, NASACRE, NATRE, and so on.

Whilst there is still much work to be done on the content of the document, I believe we have the core of a very useful piece of guidance. A small writing group (Lesley Prior, Derek Holloway, Mark Chater and myself) has been set up to navigate through the issues to reach a document which is accessible, relevant and up-to-date. Three ‘e-groups’ are being established to collect and refine feedback on guidance drafts produced: teachers / professionals, higher education professionals and faith / belief groups not already represented. Each of these will have a coordinator who will then feed back to the writing group.

Funding for meetings will continue into the summer term, by which time we should be able to present the guidance and exemplars for designing effective RE curriculums. I would like to express heartfelt thanks to all members of the group, past and present, for their dedication to this task, and the huge amount of voluntary work that has been put in so far.

SACREs and Social Media

Executive member Sushma Sahajpal suggests ways in which SACREs could engage with social media.

Is your SACRE using social media yet? School RE departments and organisations such as the RE Council RE Quality Mark and NATRE are increasingly on these networks putting out up-to-the-minute news, views and updates in previously unprecedented ways. In this article are some brief pointers for ways SACREs can use this rich, free resource. All you need is an email address and an internet connection.

It is free and aside from its social use, has useful Community Groups. I recommend ‘Save RE’ to all SACRE members who are teachers, to follow discussion and debate of national RE issues, read RE news-clips as well as share teaching resources. If you have experience in Facebook, your SACRE might consider creating its own SACRE Facebook community page for all local teachers and SACRE members, on which you can post events and updates of what is going on locally related to RE as well as links to relevant items from other groups and the wider web. 

This is also free and even simpler to use than Facebook. The only rule is each published post (known as a tweet) must be no larger than 140 text characters. 
Who to follow?
You can choose twitter accounts to ‘follow’ and their tweets will be shown to you in a newsfeed.  Begin by following school RE departments, and nationally known RE  tweeters such as @NATREupdate, @reonline_tweets, @RECouncil @REQualityMark and others including global religious figures, such as the @Pontifex (the Pope) and @DalaiLama.

Shortcuts: Lists and Hashtags
To quickly access RE Twitter, try subscribing to existing RE Twitter Lists. This opens up links to activities, conferences and events, may notify you of national reports and guidelines as soon as they are published as well as staying connected with school RE departments in your local area. Once you are logged on there are hashtags ‘#’ that allow you to quickly access any tweets that may be of interest on a hashtag theme. #rechatuk and #reteacher are a quick and potent way of reading or sending out tweets to everyone in the RE Twitterworld.

Concerns and questions answered
If you are nervous of joining Twitter I would advise you to simply open an account and follow people or organisations you are interested in and read as many tweets as you are able. This will give a good feel for how Twitter works before unleashing your own creativity and contribution into the mix! Have a look at this useful guide to get started and answer some of your questions. 

Who knows, in time, you may derive so much value from it, that you can take the lead in fostering a local RE Twitter/Facebook Hub in what is already a vibrantly active online RE community.

The Westhill /NASACRE Awards 2015-16

Colleagues are asked to note that the next round of these Awards will begin shortly. The formal notice, briefing papers and application form will be on the NASACRE website early in the new year, with a reminder to SACREs in the next mailing. The closing date for applications for an Award (of up to £4,000) will be on or around March 31st.
Michael Metcalf

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