Developing an RE handbook

Deborah Weston

How can you develop a handbook for Religious Education in the secondary school

There are many arguments for producing a handbook for religious education. Here are a few of them:

  • To bring together departmental documentation so that it is readily available to anyone who might need access to it. These will include:
    • The usual teachers of RE in a school, whether or not RE is the main subject they teach or their specialism, especially when they are new to the school or department
    • Short or long term supply teachers, so that they have easy access to key information
    • Visitors to the school, including governors and those from other schools to provide an overview of the work in a department and a reference point during and after the visit
    • Teachers on initial teacher training to provide background and support for their mentor sessions and a reference point when there is no-one available to answer questions
    • Inspectors, advisers and consultants to provide a background to their visit to the school and an opportunity to glean further information than may be possible through a short visit alone
    • The senior management team of the school to support them in gaining a strategic overview
  • To help the department celebrate its achievements in a concise and easily accessible format
  • As a point of reference during meetings with parents and carers

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A Departmental Handbook might usefully include:

A Departmental Handbook might usefully include:

Philosophy

Philosophy

A statement of the vision for RE in the school. What is distinctive about the RE in your school? What links are made with local communities of religion and belief for example? Are there particular pedagogies that inform the learning and teaching? Which Agreed Syllabus, Diocesan or other guidelines are followed?

Organisation

Organisation

This section will supplement any information in the staff handbook and should not repeat those details

  • List of staff including teachers of RE in the school with any particular areas of interest and posts of responsibility they hold, teaching assistants and administrative staff linked to the department with descriptions of their involvement.
  • Details of rooms used and their locations, including teaching rooms, storage areas and the location of any particular resources that might not be obvious - such as the fact that one specific teacher takes charge of all DVD material and locks them away in their teaching base
  • Explanation of teaching groups including setting arrangements and any codes that may appear on the RE timetable but are not self-explanatory.
Scheme of work

Scheme of work

In some schools, the scheme of work is included in a separate document although there is a case for including at least a long-term plan here (one side of A4) including details of any examination specifications followed with approximate numbers studying each. (See further infomration on long term planning here).

Policies

Policies

Useful subject specific policies to supplement whole school policies include:

  • Assessment, recording and reporting – including any levels of achievement used, exemplar reports to parents, marking conventions, timetable for assessments
  • Gifted and Talented
  • Special Educational Needs / Support for Learning and inclusion
  • Homework including a statement about the nature and purpose of homework, expectations for different year groups, systems and regularity
  • Coursework Policy including the dates of any deadlines and the consequences of missing them
  • Rewards and sanctions including procedures teachers need to follow and the location of any resources required.
  • Differentiation - this may form part of the policy for Special Education Needs or Inclusion
  • Equal Opportunities including how the resources used and the scheme of work in RE addresses issues to do with religious, racial and gender stereotyping
The contribution of RE to the wider curriculum and community

The contribution of RE to the wider curriculum and community

This shoul include a statement on the contribution of RE to:

  • Pupils’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development
  • Community Cohesion
  • Literacy across the curriculum
  • ICT across the curriculum
  • Every Child Matters
Learning outside the classroom

Learning outside the classroom

This should include details of any regular trips and visits undertaken by the department and the objectives for these visits. You need to provide a check list for the process for organising visits. Again, this should supplement and refer to any whole school documentation rather than reproduce it. Further infomration about Learning Outside the Classroom can be found here.)

Visitors

Visitors

This should include the details of any regular visitors who support RE lessons, the objectives of these lessons and contact details for the people involved.

Meetings

Meetings

This should include the expectations in relation to departmental or/faculty meetings. Time, locations, regularity, preparation / documentation required conventions for apologies etc.

Departmental Improvement Plan

Departmental Improvement Plan

This should be for the current school year with an evaluation of the previous plan extra-curricular activities provided or supported by the department including clubs, societies, intervention and revision sessions.

Continuing Professional Development and Training

Continuing Professional Development and Training

Details of opportunities for subject specific training as well as well as relevant generic training in the school such as the use of interactive whiteboards, or active learning strategies. This may be available through specialist or training school provision or an advanced skills teacher. Information about local opportunities for professional development such as though a NATRE linked local group. www.natre.org.uk/localgroups.php