24 May, 2022, Chris Giles
In November 2021 my team at South Bromsgrove High School were delighted to achieve a Gold RE Quality Mark award.
We decided to go for it after using the REQM Evidence form to complete a 360-degree assessment of the department. We realised we met much of the criteria. We found the form invaluable to guide us, particularly focussing on the 4 main strands of learning, teaching, curriculum, and leadership.
A pleasant surprise was discovering we could apply for a Westhill grant that made the process financially possible. There are actually lots of trusts and organisations that offer funding, see link to article at the end of this blog.
For me personally the award has given me the confidence to assure other RE teachers that they are not alone, as well as increase the presence of RE in my school. As an RE team the process helped to identify leadership strengths and areas to develop from a more objective perspective, particularly in preparation for a forthcoming OFSTED.
The experience of being assessed wasn’t too painful! The professionalism of the assessor was noteworthy, causing us to really think more objectively about how we can be more creative in our learning, develop more opportunities for project work, trips, and visitors in lessons. My Senior Leadership Team were supportive of the process and I was thankful to the assessor who really made the SLT stand to account on the provision of core RE at KS5. Since receiving the award we feel proud of the department. Seeing the students being interviewed and celebrating high quality teaching and learning in the department are my highlights.
We wanted our pupils to be at the heart of the process, from being interviewed to sharing their reflections through student questionnaires. A choice comment from a Year 9 student: “We have studied worldviews I never knew about before Confucianism, Daoism and Jainism” A Year 10 student noted “I love the struggle part in RS, the teachers really challenge your thinking.”
I would encourage others to give it a go. An REQM can raise the profile and presence of RE across the school and wider community. Celebrate your hard work! If you want to ‘sell’ the idea to your leadership team, talk about how the REQM develops links within the community, with visitors to school, charities, and projects. It helped us to produce new schemes of work for our GCSE course, and of course allowed our students to share their views.
Our curriculum design plans are continuing, we feel that we are on the right path. We are also focusing on RE-related careers. Receiving the award has helped develop staff confidence and help identify further CPD aims of leadership across different Key Stages.
I will finish this piece with the words of a Year 12 student ambassador for RS: “RS at South Bromsgrove has really opened my mind to leadership opportunities, attending meetings with staff and completing the VITA coaching programme so I can support other students in the lower school. The teachers are committed to helping everyone do their best, this has helped not only in developing my knowledge, but my approach to writing, and opened up new career options for me personally.”
Follow this link to find out about other organisations that offer funding and support:
How to develop partnerships and obtain funding: https://teachers-talk.natre.org.uk/how-to-develop-partnerships-and-obtain-funding/
Want to find out more about enhancing the status of RE? Check out this blog:
How to increase the presence of RE in your school: https://teachers-talk.natre.org.uk/how-to-increase-the-presence-of-re-in-your-school/