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Update from the Chair – July 2020

News from the REC

There are important developments in the work of the REC that I would like to share with you.

First, I want to thank and pay tribute to Mike McMaster, who has filled the role of our Interim Executive Officer since 1st June, and to Joshua O’Loughlin, who has shouldered significant extra responsibilities looking after the day-to-day administration of the REC since Rudi went on furlough. There has been a lot to do and they have both stepped up to the challenge with remarkable good spirit. I am personally very grateful to them both.

Second, there are two exciting developments that I am really pleased to share with you. They both reflect significant initiatives that will, in the coming months, involve everyone connected with the REC.

  1. Following Rudi’s resignation as our CEO, the Board has decided to take the opportunity to conduct a root-and-branch strategic review of the vision, purpose and structure of the REC. To that end we have contracted Hilary Topp to work with us as consultant. Hilary comes highly recommended by a number of people in the REC and has experience of working with other organisations involved in RE. The Review commenced on July 14th when Hilary led a workshop with the Board. This will be followed by a survey involving all REC member organisations and a series of focus groups and interviews with stakeholders. Finally, there will be a series of Board meetings to work through the implications of the data. The recommendations arising from the process will be considered at the AGM in May. (You can read more about Hilary at https://hilarytopp.co.uk/.) This is a very important moment in the REC’s history and I would encourage all members to participate fully.
  2. As you already know, the REC is in the middle of a major project on worldview as a follow up to the Commission on RE. So far this has produced an academic literature review, which I am delighted to announce will soon be available on the REC website. This has been followed by a series of five consultation events in June involving 13 leading academics. The aim of this phase was to provide a robust academic underpinning for using worldview in RE. Amira Tharani has facilitated these events and is now working on a series of position papers that will be available next term. (Amira is a gifted drafter who was the lead author of the Commission on RE Final Report.) These position papers will then feed into the final stage of the project, which is a major consultation with all REC members. This will be launched at our online SRGM that is scheduled for Tuesday November 10th and will be followed by a process of consultation lasting through to March 2021. I am also thrilled to announce that Dr Richard Kueh, the RE subject lead at Ofsted, will be our keynote speaker on November 10th.

So, there’s a lot to look forward to. Next academic year will be a busy one for the REC and I look forward to your involvement in these two important initiatives.

Professor Trevor Cooling

Chair, Religious Education Council

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