The REC works with and through its member bodies to champion RE. The REC board meets four times per year. Board members are elected or co-opted primarily to set the strategic direction of the Council which in turn serves religious education in schools, colleges and universities. The Board works to a strategic plan which is implemented by four committees: the PR group, Education Committee, Governance Committee and Finance and Fundraising Committee. Individually, the Board are members of one of the REC’s member organisations but they serve as independent Trustees of the Council. Board members (normally identified publicly as ‘trustees’ of the charity, rather than as ‘directors’ of the company) are elected to exercise judgement on behalf of the REC, and not as delegates of the particular member organisation to which they belong.
Trevor Cooling (Chair)
Trevor was elected Chair of the RE Council in 2015 and is Professor of Christian Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. That means his research and teaching has a particular focus on church schools. Previously, Trevor has worked as a secondary school teacher, a university theology lecturer, a diocesan adviser and CEO of a Christian Education charity. He has a PhD in Religious Education from the University of Birmingham and extensive experience of CPD, research and policy work in RE. Along with his wife Margaret he developed the Concept Cracking approach to teaching Christianity in RE.”
Dave Francis (Deputy Chair)
Dave is Associate Adviser for Bath & North East Somerset SACRE, former Chair of the Association of Religious Education Inspectors, Advisers and Consultants (AREIAC) and Lead Consultant for RE:ONLINE. Previously he was a teacher of RE for 14 years, including ten as Head of a Department of Religion, Philosophy and Social Education. He retrained as a primary teacher in 1996 and continues to offer a range of continuing professional development training events in RE, citizenship and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
Richy Thompson (Treasurer)
Richy is the Director of Public Affairs and Policy at Humanists UK, having formerly been its Education Campaigner. A public affairs and media specialist with a mathematical background, Richy has worked on education policy since 2011. Richy represents Humanists UK on the steering groups of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education and the Fair Admissions Campaign. He was formerly a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum and the humanist representative and Vice Chair of Lambeth Standing Advisory Council on RE.
Peter Ward (Company Secretary)
Peter is an Executive member and representatives of the (Catholic) National Board of Religious Inspectors and Advisers (NBRIA) at the REC and has been a member of the REC Board since 2009. He was elected REC Company Secretary in 2015. After four years in the airline industry, Peter read theology at Heythrop College, London and completed his PGCE in RE at the Institute of Education, London. After a teaching career of nearly 30 years in Catholic secondary schools in London, with 15 as Deputy Headteacher, he ‘retired’ in 2003. He then became an Adviser for Catholic Education in the Diocese of Westminster, leading its secondary team. Peter holds the NPQH and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and Associate of the Chartered Institute of Transport. An active member of the church, he enjoys travelling to Europe and beyond, and has visited many countries, including Pakistan, El Salvador and China.
Aliya Azam MBE is a member of the Education Committee at Al Sadiq and Al Zahra Schools founded by the Khoei Foundation for the past 24 years. She is an interfaith co-ordinator for the Al Khoei Foundation. She works with the FA’s Faith in Football education programme to ensure that the FA’s strategic goal of ‘Football for Everyone’ is promoted on the ground within faith-based communities and to prevent Islamophobia and Antisemitism. Aliya is a Shia co-president for the Christian Muslim Forum. She was first elected to the REC Board in 2012.
Dr. James Holt is Senior Lecturer in Religious Education at the University of Chester, and education adviser to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the UK. James worked as a secondary school RE teacher for 15 years before taking up his post at Chester where he works with beginning primary and secondary school teachers. He is an Ofqual Expert Adviser and the Chair of Examiners (GCSE Religious Studies) for one of the examination boards in England. His specialisms include all aspects of RE, inter-faith engagement, the representation of minority, and aspects of Christian education and pedagogy.
Sarah Lane Cawte
Sarah is Education Officer for Churches Together in England, the national organisation working with the major Christian denominations, and for the Free Churches’ Group. She co-ordinates the work of the Free Church Education Committee, the Churches’ Joint Education Policy Committee and the group for Providers of Faith Schools. She currently chairs the REC’s Governance Committee. Sarah began her career teaching Religious Education in Secondary Schools and also worked as RE Co-ordinator in a Primary School. She then worked as Education Manager for a large Christian charity. In her spare time, she has been working towards a PhD researching Collective Worship in community schools and is a governor of a primary school.
Currently Assistant Director for Learning and Skills in Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and chair of the REC Education Committee, Phil has previously taught RE in secondary schools in Wolverhampton and Solihull, worked as RE adviser in Coventry and Solihull and been a head of a school improvement service. He is a former chair of the Association of Religious Education Inspectors, Advisers and Consultants (AREIAC) and also a director of a multi-academy school trust and Christian Education.
Karamjit Singh Thind
A finance and organisational professional and an entrepreneur, Karamjit has worked with charities, private and public-sector organisations. He has board level experience, having worked with SMEs, global corporations, governments and community organisations. A former Senior Adviser and Consultant to the Commonwealth Business Council and the Institute of Directors, London, his passion is to share his experiences with individuals and communities. He brings on board proven skills in fostering and nurturing productive partnerships across organisations and within diverse communities.
Ed spent 23 years as a secondary RE teacher, 16 of these years as subject leader in a highly successful RE department. He currently works as an educational adviser for the Diocese of Exeter; he is also the adviser to Devon and Torbay SACREs. He is on the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) national executive, having been Chair for 6 years. He is a member of the Board of the Religious Education Council (REC) and he is the Project Director for the Learn, Teach, Lead RE programme in West of England. He is passionate about the way in which RE can offer young people a unique opportunity to develop skills such as critical evaluation and dialogue. He believes that, at its best, religious education enables young people become more inquisitive, reflective and engaged learners.
Sara is the Education Development Manager at The Board of Deputies of British Jews (UK). She has been involved at every level with the new religious education Judaism syllabus and continues to work with the relevant agencies, also representing concerns from the Jewish community. She has been involved in negotiating agreements on the many educational issues that have affected the faith community and worked to sustain examinations in Hebrew. Sara was elected to the REC Board in 2015 and also serves on the REC’s Governance committee. Sara has worked in education for over 25 years and has specialisms in early years, special educational needs and faith provision. She worked for nine years for Hertsmere Borough Council, operating specialist children’s services for disadvantaged young people. Her current role involves working with the wider religious education community and her inter-faith work aims to educate young people and train professional staff in Judaism for RE.
Emma has been involved in RE for nearly 20 years. She is currently the cohort leader for PGCE Secondary RE and the lead primary RE tutor at York St John University. Part of her role at the university includes being the Development Officer for the David Hope RE Centre which is an inset provider for individual schools, local education authorities and dioceses. Emma also works as an independent consultant and travels nationwide with a large-scale spirituality resource called ME! visiting primary, secondary and special schools, offering support with social, emotional and behavioural needs, bereavement, bullying and whole school spiritual development. Emma has worked as a tutor of a secondary subject knowledge enhancement course and produced resources for the REonline website. Throughout her career Emma has been dedicated to making strong links between practice and theory, especially encouraging practitioner research and engagement. She has conducted research in areas such as reflection in teacher education, creative RE, spiritual development and engaging children with spiritual literacy through neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
Deborah Weston (co-opted)
Deborah is an experienced teacher and trainer who works in a large inner city comprehensive school on a job-share basis as Director of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development. In addition to her school role, Deborah advises four local authorities on a regular basis; supporting classroom practitioners as well as middle and senior leaders. She is a member of the national executive of NATRE (the National Association of Teachers of RE) and the Chair of the Public Relations Group for NATRE, the REC and RE Today. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list of 2016 for services to Religious Education.