Let’s talk curriculum planning, online learning and quarantine.
As I sit at my makeshift desk at home, I could not have imagined a month ago that we would be in the middle of a pandemic and thinking about the restrictions and changes to our everyday lives. Being a teacher means something very different this week than it did a month ago and yet some key things have not changed. We still want the very best for our school community and want to enrich the lives of our pupils as best we can. Ordinarily we would be teaching classes full of pupils, and through the resources we have and the experiences we offer enabling them to explore the wider world, exploring religions and worldviews, engaging with sacred text, asking big questions about life, the universe and everything.
Yet in the midst of these strange times, Religious Education is as important as ever. Someone said to me last week, we are living in a chapter of the history books. Perhaps we are living in a chapter of the RE books too.
Places of worship are closed, something I certainly never envisaged happening in my lifetime. How people connect with others, engage in the world around them and how different communities worship is adapting and changing in the context of these strange times. People are unconnected physically but exploring what it means to be connected virtually.
The many images and stories are a great opportunity for us to highlight the diversity of practice within religions and worldviews for our pupils and move beyond ‘textbook RE’
In the RE classroom, we can help our pupils both now and when things return to ‘normal’ navigate the big questions that arise in times like this and explore the responses.
Whether you are curriculum planning, still in school supporting key workers, or struggling to think of what we should be doing, firstly be kind to yourself. Your wellbeing and that of your family is the most important thing. Then I hope this sample of ideas might help you:
For your own professional development:
Teach RE have launched a fabulous free self-study module for all those planning to teach, or already teaching religion and worldviews (RE) in schools. https://www.teachre.co.uk/teach-re-course/teachre-free-self-study-module/
Explore research in RE https://researchforre.reonline.org.uk/
Take time to read and reflect: Reforming RE by Mark Chater has chapters from different voices in the world of RE looking at change in our subject. https://www.johncattbookshop.com/reforming-religious-education
Listen to some podcasts: https://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/2019/06/18/discourse-8-june-2019/
Focus on developing your own subject knowledge: https://www.reonline.org.uk/
I know many will want to use any time available to plan ahead and think about next year. Curriculum conversations have very much been at the heart of our work this year. Here are some resources to help you reflect on creating a meaningful RE curriculum and being able to tell the story of the learning journey your pupils go on in RE.
RE in a broad and balanced curriculum: A broad and balanced tool: https://www.reonline.org.uk/leading-re/re-in-a-broad-and-balanced-curriculum-a-practical-tool/
RE Today is supporting NATRE by providing resources which you can use and share with parents to support home learning. https://www.natre.org.uk/about-natre/free-resources-for-you-and-your-pupils/
New, free BBC Bitesize RE content for Key Stage 3 designed for pupils to use themselves: There are 22 new short films with accompanying information and activities https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/subjects/zh3rkqt
REOnline have produced some home learning resources for RE https://www.reonline.org.uk/supporting-re/
Explore the sacred texts of the world’s great faiths : https://www.bl.uk/sacred-texts
Written by Olivia Seymour, Regional ambassador for the North East. Follow Olivia on twitter at @Ollyseymour