Often I have been asked the following questions:
How do we raise the profile of RE within a school?
How do we make an impact in the school?
I have often been asked these questions when someone has inherited the role of RE Co-ordinator and, after a brief audit, have noticed that RE is not top of everyone else’s list of priorities.
So, how do we raise the profile of RE in a school where it has been allowed to slip into the background or in some cases, been brushed under the educational carpet?
Whilst there is no panacea, nor magic wand, there are ways, and all of them involve rolling your metaphorical sleeves up and getting stuck in.
So, here are a few ideas to spice up your RE lessons. Give some of them a try, it may involve stepping out of your comfort zone.
1. Make Religious Education visible
Put up displays. Ensure these are of high quality. Include challenging comments and statements from your pupils. A good display should make people stop, look and think! If you don’t have an RE display area in a communal area of the school, why not ask for one?
Once you have done this encourage the whole school community to go and look at it!
2. Run a staff meeting on RE
This could present a challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity to really sell the brilliant things RE can do. Run some of the activities with staff, get them involved at a personal level, so they experience the same buzz that the children do.
3. Set up RE meetings in school
You could offer to run short meetings about RE for staff with concerns, this would impress SLT too! Just the occasional half hour slot may sow seeds further on and make people more confident in their delivery.
4. Involve Religious Education in the Creative Curriculum
This will help children and teachers see RE as an integral part of the curriculum as well as the world, not just as a stand alone subject! Sometimes RE learning can form a valuable part of an integrated topic eg., learning about Hinduism or Sikhism when studying India. Sometimes, RE can be the lead subject when planning an integrated topic for the creative curriculum!
5. Organise events
Make opportunities to invite speakers from faith and belief communities to come into school and enter into dialogue with children about specific aspects of their faith/belief journey and/or organise visits to places of worship and/or plan RE trails around your local area. You may like to organise a walking pilgrimage to a local place of worship or site with RE significance.
6. Involve the children as much as possible
Ask them for creative ways in which you can make RE more engaging, challenging and exciting. I often found that some of the best ideas my school had come from the pupils themselves!
7. Set up an award
How about ‘ RE student of the week’? This could be for a student who has produced a superb piece of work or had an impressive idea for an event or demonstrated empathy, insightfulness or sensitivity. Tie this in with a nice little reward and students will soon be trying to achieve this accolade. You could organise a notice board with RE news and it could feature the student and their achievements.
It’s up to you to be pro-active, to grasp the bull by the horns and go for it. Go on, be brave! Good luck!
Associate Consultant with Jan Lever Education Consultancy and Training Ltd.
David Rees has been an R.E. teacher for 25 years. In that time he has been an Advanced Skills R.E. teacher for 12 years, a member of SACRE and an adviser to local authorities. more
Discovery RE is the culmination of over 30 years’ experience in RE teaching and advisory work. It reinforces Religious Education’s statutory place in the primary curriculum.
We believe RE is about subject knowledge, critical/evaluative thinking and personal spiritual development.
Discovery RE gives teachers a solid structure for delivering a wide range of subject content covering 6 of the world’s principal religions. It guides teachers through the enquiry process, starting in the children’s experience, venturing into the world of religion and back into the child’s map of the world.
The world our children live in is full of beauty but also full of confusion. Discovery RE can equip and empower children to make sense of it.