Space and time to consider the bigger picture for RE – Deborah Yeomans

The first thing that struck me when I arrived at Strictly RE was the buzz of genuine excitement and enthusiasm. It was lovely – and felt empowering- to be part of a community of people with obvious commitment and passion for RE.

We were warmly welcomed by the inspirational Fiona Moss who introduced the guest speaker, Kathryn Wright, CEO from Culham St Gabriel’s. Kathryn spoke to us about ‘opening up the treasure box’ and looking at the various jewels we had available to us: our own world views, our childrens’ world views, context, the intent of our school curriculum, our subject and our curriculum content. She really made me consider my school’s context, something I’ve often thought about in a negative way due to the lack of diversity. However Kathryn made me reconsider and appreciate all the ‘jewels’ our community has to offer and how I can use them to benefit our children. She talked about ‘falling in love with our subject again’; the love for RE was certainly transparent throughout the day in everybody I met.

Julia Diamond-Conway’s Workshop: ‘Big World, Big Ideas: Religion and Science’ was a great workshop where I felt my subject knowledge was deepened and I found lots of practical activities that our children would love to use and share with colleagues. It also made me consider opportunities for our Year Three pupils to begin to think about how science and religion can work together in their Stone Age lessons on Mary Anning, ahead of looking at this in greater detail in Year Six.

Stephen Pett lead an informative workshop on ‘helping pupils to remember what they have learnt in RE’. This session really made me think about the opportunities our children have to retrieve and commit learning to their long-term memory. I loved the activity we did ‘Will Amir go on Hajj next year’ which would give pupils four opportunities to process information about Hajj through active learning which embeds this theory. I have passed this activity on to our Year Five teacher to teach during the unit on what it means to be a Muslim in Britain today. As coordinator I will look forward to seeing how this impacts on their understanding of Hajj and its importance to Muslim people.

My final session was again with Julia Diamond-Conway on ‘Implementing Effective RE for 5-7s:Sticky RE.’ Again, this workshop gave me lots of practical ideas to use in my teaching and share with colleagues.

Ben Wood was our final key note speaker who talked about impact and RE and how we see the impact of this subject in our classrooms and young people. This gave me chance to consider what the impact of RE is for pupils in our school, how successful this is and how I can demonstrate this for OFSTED and SIAMs.

So was the day worth giving up a Saturday for? Well for me a massive, resounding YES! I had spent a day with dedicated teachers and other RE professionals sharing their passion for the subject; been given lots of excellent ideas and resources to support our children’s learning and aid teaching in our school; had space and time to consider the bigger picture for RE in school through the inspiring key note speakers and had been regularly feed. I certainly don’t get given mid-morning and afternoon cakes during my usual Saturday cleaning frenzy.

Deborah Yeomans, Primary RE coordinator, Leicestershire