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10 steps to increase the presence of RE in your school

With RE curriculum time being squeezed in many schools, coupled with financial restraints, we as RE teachers must be increasingly intentional towards raising the profile of RE in our schools! Here are some top tips on how to increase the presence and gravitas of RE in your school, getting the much deserved attention our beloved subject needs.

  1. Start with the pupils – Enable those who are passionate to support the subject by being ‘part’ of the RE department, e.g. pupil voice forums, contributing ideas to meetings, help with organising visitors, trips, displays or starting a Youth SACRE. Our colleagues over at RE Online have published a great blog on starting a youth SACRE which can hopefully give you some inspiration. You can also encourage ex-pupils who have taken RS related degrees at University to come back and speak to pupils about the merits of RE; sometimes its better coming from them, and enables open discussion encouraged by familiarity.
  2. Find support and partnerships – There are so many high-quality courses to support RE teacher, both paid and unpaid. Additionally, you can make contact with a local NATRE group, schools in your local area or region and Universities to develop links.  There are many different ways of developing your own subject knowledge through amazing websites such as Teach RE.
  3. All pupils have an entitlement to RE – Find out about the legal requirements for compulsory for all pupils in state funded schools, including academies. It is also worth making your SLT and governors aware that RE is being scrutinised more under the new Ofsted framework; there are over 101 comments on RE from recent inspections, available for you to read.
  4. Obtain funding – Do you have limited time or money to deliver the RE you want to? There are many different sources of funding for resources that RE teachers are unaware of. This is an exciting and detailed topic, which we have discussed on Teachers Talk before. Have another read if you’re looking to boost your RE budgets.
  5. Complete a 360 review of the dept – The RE Quality Mark is one way of completing a 360 review of your RE department. To obtain the mark, your schools’ pupils fill in questionnaires.  This could lead to changing schemes of work, developing pupils’ religious literacy skills, using more stories, encouraging deep learning and giving choice in homework/creative projects.
  6. Emphasise how RE is relevant to the job market and the life-skills it provides. Projects such as the “Case studies” from RE Online will assist you to emphasise the academic rigour of the course, especially the careers it relates too.
  7. Have a display of past success – Utilise public areas in your school to showcase pictures from RE trips, visits and quotes from current pupils and ex-pupils about the Universities they went to and the diversity of academic subjects they read. Case studies and success examples  help individuals understand and materialise their potential.
  8. Change hearts and minds. Explain to pupils what potential they have in the course and celebrate recent achievements. Speaking to parents, as well as sending emails and letters and a simple phone call can help challenge misconceptions of the subject. If you really want to open people’s hearts to RE, why not invite parents and governors on trips to see the fantastic knowledge and cultural capital that RE delivers?
  9. Develop cross curricular links with other subjects – RE makes a significant contribution to SMSC, PSD and other subjects “… we know that a rigorous religious education acts as a Rosetta Stone between different subjects: unlocking our ability to make links and understand the great advances in science, politics, commerce, the arts and history.” Nick Gibb (Minister of State -2012). For schools with limited resources, time or budget provisioned for RE, combining Religious Education with cross-curricular activities can open new doors.
  10. Use media to help promote the status of RE. Podcasts, websites and networking with other RE teachers will help to support one another as a community to help ‘Save RE’!  Twitter is a great source of CPD with many RE teachers sharing advice, resources and ideas online. You could enter competitions, for essays or Spirited Arts, or complete an activity in Interfaith Week and invite the local press in. Not only does this grow your school’s presence in the community, it paints the school in a good light and increases the reputation, which every head and School Business manager will appreciate!

Written by Chris Giles, Regional ambassador for West Midlands.  Follow Chris’ schools RE department on twitter at www.twitter.com/sbhsrs or his individual twitter at www.twitter.com/chris_giles_

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