How I… became a regional ambassador for RE – Laura Harris

Leaving University and applying for PGCE provided me with a conundrum. Finish my RE and Theology degree and begin Primary training, where my instincts told me I would best fit, or hold tight to RE –  the subject that I loved and train as a secondary teacher? Much to the disappointment of some of my secondary school and University tutors I opted for the former, promptly volunteered myself as RE subject leader within my small North Somerset primary school, and set about enjoying the challenge of enthusing my colleagues, updating school practices, and engaging my pupils in Key Stage 2.  After a few years though, I found myself really missing any major engagement with RE, and frustrated by the issues clearly facing the subject in my area and in general, I decided to investigate how I might get involved with the subject a little more at a local level. I volunteered myself for my local SACRE where a position was luckily available for me.  It was invigorating to spend time amongst others for whom RE was so important and I began to enquire how else I may be able to support the subject.

Along came Learn Teach Lead RE!  After several years of success in Area 1 – Devon and Cornwall, the LTLRE team were to develop ‘Area 2’ in my region and were seeking enthusiastic teachers and potential leaders of RE to work in this area. I was excited and optimistic on successfully receiving the role of ‘hub leader’ for North Somerset and set about developing local group meetings three times a year. This sadly coincided with a huge reduction in funding in my local authority and I have found myself filling a gap for local teachers of RE who now only have LTLRE to offer them any forum for networking in our subject. My group affiliated to NATRE and I was hugely grateful for inspiration from the termly newsletter I received from the local groups team, as well as ideas and information from my termly issues of RE Today received through my school membership. Through this I heard of the new Ambassadors programme in 2018 and was thrilled to be appointed as Regional Ambassador for the South West region in January last year.

I found myself sat on a train to Birmingham on a snowy day in February, and once again spent a day hugely inspired by being in the company of a passionate and motivated team who had been appointed by NATRE to represent ten regions across the country. We are united in our hope of improving teacher access to local support in RE and are all working hard to try and join some dots locally and nationally to provide greater consistency in the CPD opportunities both Primary and Secondary teachers are able to access in RE. Amongst many project aims is the key goal of making Religion and Worldviews teacher groups accessible to all teachers of the subject across the country, and at a reasonable distance from where they work. So far through my role I have embraced the somewhat scary world of RE social media (see my Facebook group ‘RE in the Southwest’ or follow me on Twitter @mrsharrisRE), sought and supported new local group leaders of RE just like myself, attended numerous meetings and events where I am now able to hear about important developments in our subject and pass vital information on to teachers across the region.

I would urge anyone with a passion for RE to take the plunge; see what opportunities might be out there for you, approach your local SACRE or LTLRE hub, contact us at NATRE local groups, or visit your nearest hub or group and offer your support and enthusiasm. You never know where you may end up!

 Laura Harris South West Regional Ambassador

 

To see who your Regional Ambassador is visit https://www.natre.org.uk/about-natre/re-in-your-region/re-ambassadors/

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