Raising the profile of RE
Here are a number of tips to suit a range of circumstances:
Ensure that the learning is challenging, active and well planned. There is no substitute for this if you want to raise the profile of RE.
Work hard to raise the attainment of students from their starting points with regular assessment and appropriate examinations specifications to suit their aptitudes and family backgrounds
Make links with other departments especially those that are particularly successful in your school. You can do this through:
a. curricular links – the case studies on the revised secondary curriculum will give you some ideas about this
b. planning some inter-disciplinary trips and visits – e.g. an exploration of the local community from an historical and religious perspective, a discussion about religion and art through a visit to an art gallery, a visit to a place of worship which incorporates learning outcomes for RE and another area – e.g. Canterbury (with English – the Canterbury Tales), Sri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London (with technology – building design and structures) or even a visit to Florence (with Modern Foreign Languages).
c. Taking part in local or national competitions such as the James Hemming Essay Prize (with English), the Spirited Arts Competition (with Art and or Media Studies) or Model United Nations (with Citizenship).
Publicise your successes though any means available; newsletters, the school website, meeting with governors, talking to parents, school assemblies, articles in local, national, international media. Check you have the appropriate permissions before any press contact. The Religious Education Council’s RE teacher’s media toolkit provides useful guidance here.
Make sure you have a realistic development plan that is aligned with the school development plan. You then ensure that you have the maximum opportunity to work alongside other subject leaders and share ideas about how to drive school improvement. Funding is usually allocated to school improvement targets so this may be a useful means of making the department budget stretch further
Make links with Higher Education Institutions through for example becoming a mentor to a student teacher engaged in initial teacher education, funded research initiatives or teacher led action research. This will help you to be up to date with current developments in pedagogy and allow you to share the findings with other middle and senior leaders in scheduled meetings
Work with your school’s specialism. Humanities Colleges are the obvious focus for this work but there are opportunities for RE in all the other specialisms too. If your school has Leading Edge status and/or Training School status it is funded to share good practice with other schools. You can ask for funding to support a CPD opportunities for local RE teachers, visit a partner school or another activity dependent on the plan your school has agreed with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.