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 from a strategic plan which is implemented through the REC’s Member Engagement Committee, Governance Committee, Finance Committee, and Fundraising Committee, and through the joint RE Policy Unit (a working group made up of the REC, NATRE and RE Today).

Sarah Lane Cawte (Chair)

Sarah was elected Chair of the REC Council in 2021 and has served on the Board for a total of 11 (non-consecutive) years prior to this. She is Chair of the Governance Committee. Sarah works as Education Officer for the Free Churches Group of England and Wales, a role that involves her in working with 26 member churches and groups, as well as with colleagues from faith and belief groups, government and from other organisations. She began her career as an RE teacher in both secondary and primary schools, and has extensive experience in the charity sector, as an employee and as a board member. She has chaired one SACRE and serves on another, as well as being a school governor.

Ed Pawson (Deputy Chair)

Ed Pawson has been a member of the Board of the Religious Education Council since 2015 and currently holds the role of Deputy Chair. He is Chair of the Fundraising Committee and sits on the RE Policy Unit. He spent 23 years as a secondary RE teacher and subject leader and now works as the adviser to Devon, Torbay and Plymouth SACREs. He is the RE Hubs lead for the SW, Programme Director for Learn, Teach, Lead RE (SW) and is the former Chair of the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE).

Rosemary Rivett (Treasurer)

Rosemary has had a formal association with the REC since 2006, serving as Board member and/or committee member since that time. She is also a former Treasurer. Before retiring in December 2013, Rosemary was RE Adviser and Director of Education at RE Today Services, and Executive Officer of NATRE (National Association of Teachers of RE). These roles involved working with SACREs, training teachers and managing both small and large-scale grant-funded projects, as well as leading teams of people including teachers. Rosemary is a secondary specialist and taught Religious Studies for 25 years in a variety of schools in the Midlands and North West.

Deborah Weston (Company Secretary)

Deborah is an experienced teacher and trainer who worked in a large inner city comprehensive school as Director of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development and previously as Head of Religious Studies. Deborah advises three local authorities on a regular basis; supporting their SACREs, 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. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list of 2016 for services to Religious Education.

Kathryn Wright

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 local authorities and a number of Anglican Dioceses. In May 2019, she became the Chief Executive of Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, an endowed charitable foundation. She chairs the RE Council’s Member Engagement Committee and sits on the RE Policy Unit.  She is also an observer on the NATRE executive, and a co-opted member of the AULRE executive.

Kathy Riddick

Kathy has worked with Humanists UK for the last five years coordinating activities across Wales. She has supported the Welsh Government as a long-term member of the Strategic Stakeholder Group for curriculum reform and helped draft the guidance for the new Religion Values and Ethics subject. Kathy is a governor at two schools, member of her local SACRE and an executive member of WASACRE. She has also been part of Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Moral and Ethical Advisory Group where religion and belief has been integral to advising on issues of national policy.

Philip Robinson

Philip took up the post of Chief Inspector to the Catholic Schools Inspectorate in July of 2023. Up until that point, and for the last ten years, he served as 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 diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Prior to both advisory roles he was a teacher of religious education for fourteen years, including five years leading an outstanding religious education department. In addition to his professional commitments, Philip is also currently in the final year of his doctoral studies, focusing on the question of how Catholic religious education can remain authentically Catholic while still meeting the external societal and legal demands that are placed upon it.

Sandra Teacher

Sandra is the Education consultant at the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and represents the Jewish community at government level. She has been involved with the work of the REC for the past twenty years and as an assessor, is particularly passionate about their work within The Religious Education Quality Mark which celebrates high-quality RE provision. She has experience and expertise as a schools’ inspector on behalf of Ofsted/ ISI and Section 48 inspectorates. She supports schools, local authorities and Sacres as a School Improvement Partner and has been designated a ‘Community Cohesion Champion’ by the Office of the Prime Minister. Her research studies involved the Integration of RE into the National Curriculum.

Paul Smalley

Paul is a proud Boltonian, although he has not lived there since his childhood. After a degree in Biblical Studies at Sheffield University, he taught RE (and other things) in three high schools in West Yorkshire, Wigan and Halton for 12 years, being both Head of Department and Head of Year. He has been at Edge Hill University since 2006 where he has taught on Postgraduate and Undergraduate RE ITE routes, and is now programme lead for Secondary Undergraduate QTS (English, Maths and RE). Paul researches in the fields of RE Policy and Practice, Collective Worship and Spirituality. He has also published work on mentoring and teacher development.

Dr Ramesh Pattni OBE

Ramesh is a psychologist and a Hindu theologian whose research is at the intersection of these traditions.  He is a Professor Emeritus at Chinmaya Vishwa Vidyapeeth, Vice President of Hindu Forum Britain and a trustee of the Hindu Education Board.

Céline Benoit

Céline is an Associate Dean for Public Engagement and a Senior Teaching Fellow at Aston University. She is also a School Liaison Officer for TRS-UK.

Aliya Azam MBE

Graduate from UCL, BSc (Hons) in Psychology, postgraduate from SOAS, MA in Islamic Societies and Cultures, PGCE in science from the Institute of Education. Graduate in traditional Islamic Seminary Studies, BA in Islamic Studies and currently studying Advanced Hawza Islamic Seminary Studies. My current and past positions have been, Secondary Head of Science in Al Sadiq School and Al Zahra School for thirty years. Responsibilities include representing the Al Khoei Foundation at the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) as well as organising inter-faith projects and community cohesion. Board and Trustee of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales since 2012 to 2021. Trustee of Al Ayn Social Care Foundation UK since 2006. Muslim representative of the ‘Faith and Football’ program organised by the Football Association. Trustee of the Christian Muslim Forum (CMF) from March 2020. Honoured with an MBE for community cohesion with the Al Khoei Foundation in 2015.

REC Board appointments and elections

Individually, the Board are each a member of one of the REC’s member organisations, but they serve as independent Trustees of the REC. Board members (normally identified publicly as ‘trustees’ of the charity) are elected to exercise judgement on behalf of the REC, and not as delegates of the particular member organisation to which they belong.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Elections take place at the AGM in May.
  5. 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.