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.
REC procedure for appointments and elections
- Periodically and when needed, information is circulated to member organisations about forthcoming vacancies for volunteers to put themselves forward in relation to officer posts, elections to the Board and committee vacancies.
- Information about the role is provided e.g. for committees, the frequency and nature of meetings, expectations about ways of working and level of commitment etc (this kind of information is already supplied as part of the process for Board elections). This should include a clarification that people would take on such roles in a personal capacity not to represent an organisation.
- Interested people are asked to let the REC Board know in less than 200 words what they can offer. This may be general or specific, depending on whether or not they are expressing an interest in a particular role. A cut off date is agreed.
- Elections take place at the AGM, usually in May.
- For committees, the Board registers people’s interest and gets back to those who have put their names forward. The Board decides on appointments with due regard to balance, size/cost effectiveness and efficiency of groups. If there are too many offers and the Board is unable to deploy all volunteers, it can keep their names on a list for future possibilities.
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.
Andrew Copson (Treasurer)
Andrew is Chief Executive of Humanists UK (formerly the British Humanist Association). He became Chief Executive in 2010 after five years coordinating Humanists UK’s education and public affairs work. Andrew is also President of Humanists International (formerly known as the International Humanist and Ethical Union – IHEU). Together with A C Grayling, Andrew edited the Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism (2015). His new book, Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom, was published in September 2017 by Oxford University Press. His writing on humanist and secularist issues has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, and New Statesman as well as in various journals. Andrew has represented Humanists UK and the humanist movement extensively in national news including on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky, as well as on programmes such as Newsnight, The Daily Politics, the Today programme, Sunday Morning Live, and The Big Questions.
Deborah Weston (Company Secretary)
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. 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 RE Policy Unit 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.
Sandra has been a Schools’ Inspector for the past 25 years and has carried out numerous school inspections of all ages and stages with additional expertise in Special Education and the Early Years. She works with a wide variety of schools and Local Authorities on improvement and self evaluation, and is involved in Teacher/training both as regards ITE and CPD. It was a privilege for her to work with Deborah Weston and the Dfe to provide the Judaism section for the latest GCSE examinations. She sits on the Lambeth Sacre, and is an Assessor for the REQM programme since its inception. She is an Education Adviser at the DfE, working within the Free School Group but has also supported and provided materials for the Counter Extremism Unit. She is the Education Consultant at the Board of Deputies of British Jews and acts as a representative for her community supporting the Education World at all levels with expertise on the Jewish viewpoint. She is studying for a PhD, with her main area of interest being the integration of RE into the National Curriculum.
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.
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.
Philip is the Religious Education Adviser to the Catholic Education Service, which acts on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference to promote and sustain Catholic education in the 2,209 Catholic schools in England and Wales. Before that he was the Religious Education adviser for the Catholic diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Prior to both of these advisory roles he was a teacher of Religious Education for fourteen years, including five years leading the RE department of an inner-city Catholic comprehensive school. In addition to his professional commitments, Philip is also currently in the third year of his doctoral studies, focusing on the relationship between Religious Education in schools and the impact this has on attitudes to religious diversity in adulthood.
After teaching in East London secondary schools for a number of years, Kathryn became an RE adviser to the London Borough of Newham until 2005. She subsequently spent 14 years as an independent consultant working with a range of organisations including the Diocese of Norwich, the Church of England and Culham St Gabriel’s Trust. In May 2019, she became the Chief Executive of Culham St Gabriel’s Trust. She is a co-opted member of the NATRE executive and chairs the RE Council’s Education Committee. In 2017 she completed her PhD examining the purpose of RE related pedagogy in Church of England schools.
Satnam Singh Poonian
Satnam is co-chair of Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO) UK. As a Chartered Engineer he worked for 24 years in the Telecommunications industry followed by 12 years as a Mathematics teacher in a Secondary school. He has been a Justice of the Peace for the past 17 years in Birmingham. He represents NSO at Ofsted’s Schools with Religious Character meetings. He has experience of working with charities, private and public-sector organisations. He has been general secretary of Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Birmingham and regularly takes part in discussions involving issues facing families on community television stations. He has a passion to share his skills and experiences with individuals and communities to create a better understanding and cohesion within diverse communities.