The REQM Assessor
07 June, 2022, Lizzie McWhirter
I have been an REQM Assessor since 2014, with the privilege of an REQM visit on average once a term. I was on the REQM Review Group in 2018-19 and am currently on the REQM Advisory Group. I was asked several times if I would apply to be an REQM Assessor- and so on the third time of asking- I did! I haven’t looked back since! It is a very enjoyable role.
I have seen the award change over time. I have greatly enjoyed being part of the journey since REQM’s conception with Mary Myatt and Jane Brooke, and now under Linda’s guidance, we have made great leaps forward. Currently we are making online visits to schools, so no travel is involved! We also meet online every term for valuable CPD and to share good practice.
When I look back over 10 years of the REQM I remember when I first started assessing, one of my colleagues saying to me that you will recognise a Gold school when you meet it, as it will shine out! How true that is! I am very excited about the way forward with REQM, which has always been about raising the profile and celebrating good practice in RE. During lockdown I think RE subject leaders were so creative, filming short cameo videos to showcase their school RE. The current REQM evidence form is crisp, focussed and helps to engage schools.
I am absolutely clear that the REQM still has value. Gold award schools can share their expertise and best practice with others and help to firmly put RE on the map. The maturity of pupil comments and their obvious enjoyment of RE is always delightful to encounter. RE clearly drives the curriculum in many schools, and for some pupils this extends to composing music in RE lessons as well as being fully integrated in their learning. So too, are hard-working, committed staff, passionate about RE. Many of the RE subject leaders are leading by example, and some have had articles published in national journals or have taken part in NATRE videos. Parent voice has praised the championing of RE in schools.
I enjoy working with teachers in schools. It is so wonderful to meet such extremely enthusiastic staff, enabling high quality learning and excellent achievement. It has been lovely to talk with staff and see the wealth of evidence they bring to the table, demonstrating the richness of RE. It has been especially good to meet pupils in person as we gather the all- important pupil voice.
For any readers considering applying for an REQM, I would encourage you. For church schools, the perfect time to apply is in between SIAMS inspections. For all schools, an REQM award is a great accolade. You won’t regret applying and putting your case together so the RE world can celebrate with you all the good and great things you do, and will continue to do. The REQM questionnaires can provide a valuable part of your monitoring and evaluation in RE, even if you not apply for an REQM award.
In 20 years I am sure we will be moving onwards and upwards! Hopefully, we will see the RE map has grown. Above all, I am sure we will remain clear that RE remains the Queen of the school curriculum, helping to drive forward school improvement.