Commissioners

Chair:

The Very Rev Dr John Hall.  Dean of Westminster.  Former Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, having previously been Diocesan Director of Education in Blackburn, serving the people of Lancashire. Earlier he had ministered in parishes in London, and before that taught RE at a community comprehensive school in Hull. He chairs the Governors of Westminster School and of Harris Westminster Sixth Form, a free school.

 

Commissioners:

Samira Ahmed, Journalist, broadcaster and Visiting Professor of Journalism at Kingston University.  She presents Front Row on Radio 4 and Newswatch on BBC1 and a range of cultural and religious programmes and documentaries across BBC and Radio. These have included Something Understood and Sunday on Radio 4 and BBC1's religion and ethics discussion show Sunday Morning Live.

Alan Brine, HMI in Ofsted from 2001 to 2014 where he was National Adviser for RE from 2007 to 2014.  He is author of many key publications on RE, including the most recent report from Ofsted, Religious Education: Realising the Potential (2013) and the key Church of England survey report on RE in Church Schools, Making a Difference? (2014).  Previously he was a teacher of RE in schools and HE, and County Inspector for RE in Hampshire.

Professor Denise Cush was Head of Study of Religions at Bath Spa University. She specialises in Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and alternative spiritualities, as well as religious education.  She has also taught Religious Studies in a sixth form college, and trained both primary and secondary teachers of religious education. She is deputy editor of the British Journal of Religious Education.

Esther Deans MBE, Humanities KS4 Lead at Malmesbury School.  She is formerly an initial teacher training Associate Tutor for Bath Spa University and Bristol University.  She is a member of the Race Equality in Education steering group in Bristol, Chair of the Stand Against Racism & Inequality and Chair of Bristol SACRE.

Professor Sir Malcolm Evans KCMG OBE, Professor of Public International Law, University of Bristol.  He was a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Advisory Council on Freedom of Religion and Belief for ten years and is currently Chair of the United Nations Subcommittee for Prevention of Torture.  He is Chair of the governing body of Regent's Park College, Oxford.

Dame Helen Hyde, Outgoing head of Watford Grammar School for Girls (since 1987).  She is a commissioner on the National Holocaust Commission and she chairs its education work stream.  She is a member of the Freedom and Autonomy, National Schools Association (FASNA) board, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a trustee of the Holocaust Education Trust.  She is Patron of the Rwandan Sisterhood working with survivors of the genocide and deprived women in Kigali.

Emma Knights, CEO, National Governors’ Association.  Prior to her appointment to the NGA in 2010 she was joint CEO of the Daycare Trust. Before that, she worked in a number of roles in the voluntary sector, particularly in the Legal Services Commission, Citizens Advice and the Local Government Association. 

Juliet Lyal, teacher at Cunningham Hill Infant School with extensive experience at junior and infant level.  She serves on Hertfordshire SACRE and is on the writing group for its Agreed Syllabus.  She has national experience supporting local RE groups, having founded the St Albans RE Teachers Together group and is the primary vice-chair of the NATRE (National Association of Teachers of RE).  Juliet is a Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) inspector.

Dr Joyce Miller, Associate Fellow in the Religions and Education Research Unit at the University of Warwick (WRERU).  In 2007 she retired as Head of Diversity and Cohesion at Education Bradford, prior to which she was a Senior Lecturer in religious studies at the University of Wolverhampton.  She taught in secondary schools in Coventry and Northumberland. She is a former Chair of the RE Council, AREIAC, Bradford SACRE and the Schools Linking Network. 

Eleanor Nesbitt, Emeritus Professor, University of Warwick.  She is an expert in the religious socialisation of young people of Christian, Hindu and Sikh background, and in qualitative research methods.  She is author of Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition 2016).  Between 1986 and 2007 (after briefly teaching RE in India and Coventry), she contributed to the training of secondary RE teachers and non-specialist primary teachers at the University of Warwick. She serves on Coventry SACRE.

Dr Vanessa Ogden, CEO of the Mulberry Schools Trust. Her teaching career covers twenty years of practice in challenging inner-city schools across London and involves work in school improvement. She is religious education teacher and served on Ealing SACRE. Vanessa is designated a ‘National Leader in Education’. She has contributed to curriculum development in RE nationally. She is a Visiting Fellow at UCL Institute of Education and she has a doctorate specialising in education policy and school improvement. 

Dr Farid Panjwani, Director, Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education, UCL Institute of Education.  He has published widely on the aims, curriculum and pedagogy of religious education. He has worked on several curriculum and teacher education projects in religious and inter-cultural education. He has a wide range of experience of teaching religious education in formal and non-formal settings. In addition to the UK, he has taught courses in universities in Italy, Canada, Tunisia and Pakistan.

Dr Anthony Towey is Director of the Aquinas Centre for Theological Literacy at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.  He lectured in Rome, Durham and Birmingham before leading the RE department at Loreto College, Moss Side.  He is an Ofqual subject specialist and has assisted in the shaping of the Religious Education Reforms at A-Level and in particular by developing  new specifications and resources at GCSE with AQA and Eduqas.