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Representing the full breadth of RE to parliamentarians and policymakers has never been more important and the REC remains committed to this, on behalf of all its member organisations and the wider RE community.
After the 2015 general election the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Religious Education needed a new Chair. As a result the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC), which had suggested the establishment of the group to its first Chair and other interested Parliamentarians, and which also provided the secretariat, set out on a planned, strategic process to assess the interest among Parliamentarians in reforming the group together with a new Chair.* However, while this process was still ongoing, Fiona Bruce MP decided to hold an AGM for the group, securing her own election as Chair, without notifying the REC of the event until after it had occurred. She also did not notify some of the other officers of the fact that they had been elected alongside her.
Originally, Fiona’s office told the REC that she would continue to work with it as the secretariat to the group. However, at a meeting on 6th January 2016, arranged following many requests from the REC, the REC was summarily informed by Fiona that it would no longer be providing the secretariat function for the APPG; rather that this function was being carried out by her office.
Having been the secretariat since the foundation of the APPG, the REC is disappointed by this. Further, while the APPG in the last Parliament took a diverse and inclusive approach to RE, it now appears to be taking a much narrower path, excluding significant perspectives. The REC represents the collective interests of faith groups and organisations of RE professionals in deepening and strengthening provision for religious education. As the secretariat of the APPG in the last Parliament we helped parliamentarians produce reports into the support and supply of religious education teachers, on how RE can support good community relations, and led the fight against any downgrading of the subject. We worked with parliamentarians to champion religious education and raise awareness of its value in the education of all young people.
The REC will continue to work at Westminster and with the Government to achieve these aims.
*Updated 15.1.2016. We have updated the text to make it clear that the REC did not literally establish the group and was not expecting to literally appoint a new Chair. The text originally read “As a result the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC), which established the group and provided the secretariat, set out on a planned, strategic process to find that Chair.” We apologise for any confusion.