What is leadership in RE?
Whether you are a class teacher hoping to lead RE one day or currently have responsibility for the subject, leadership requires vision and direction. This section will explore the idea of a vision for RE, and how to work towards that vision. Leadership in RE is knowing what you are aiming for, driven by your understanding of the purpose of the subject. Management is the short- and long- term measures you put in place to achieve your vision.
Ask yourself this question:
What is RE for?
Essentially, your answer to this question shapes your vision for the subject. All planning, assessment and curriculum design should be for the sole purpose of making this vision a reality. A vision for RE will support and enhance your school’s overall vision. All subject areas will be engaged in developing knowledge and understanding according to the purpose of the subject; what is geography, history or Maths for? How will development in this subject area feed a child’s growing understanding of the world? Your team’s understanding of the purpose of RE will not just provide clear boundaries and guidelines within the subject, it will feed into a whole school vision of the purpose of education for individuals, society and the future.
It will take time, it won’t be easy, but focusing on a clear and coherent aim will give shape and direction to all you do.
A vision for RE
Currently two major developments suggest a reimagining of the purpose of RE.
1.Commission on RE (CoRE) Report
The Commission on RE (CoRE) made its final report in September 2018. See it here: https://www.religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk/projects/core/
The report was needed because of three major concerns. Firstly, the inconsistent quality of RE around the country, secondly a changing legal landscape means that legal structures surrounding RE no longer support the subject. Finally, because the diversity and complexity of religion and belief in the world is not reflected in the RE curriculum (Forward by John Hall, CoRE Final Report, Sept 2018)
The resulting National Plan for RE consists of 3 components:
- A new vision: the subject to be renamed ‘Religion and Worldviews’ studies; a rigorous and rich analysis of religious and non-religious worldviews and their impact on shaping individuals, communities and societies.
- A National Entitlement: All pupils should have access to high quality teaching, whatever school they attend.
- Greater Investment: There should be significant government investment in ensuring supports for this new way forward; a) highly qualified and knowledgeable teachers; b) local communities playing a significant role in supporting RE
As a subject leader you will need to know about developments like this which affect the subject. The proposal of a National Entitlement is in line with Ofsted’s expectations that teachers can articulate the purpose of a subject. The National Entitlement offers a reshaped vision for the purpose of RE: to explore and understand religion and worldviews in the past and present, in different communities, taking into account cultural and geopolitical contexts, to consider change and dissent in religion and worldviews and the multiple dimensions of belief, belonging, culture and identity.
2.New Ofsted Framework
Significant changes in the way schools will be inspected are found in Ofsted’s 2019 School Inspection Handbook (Ofsted, May 2019, No. 190017).
All subjects will be required to think about the purpose of learning, or the intent of the curriculum. In considering the new criteria and what it will mean for RE in your school, this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss with your team about the purpose of RE.
Inspectors will consider how well teachers and students can explain why they are studying RE. The curriculum should reflect a systematic development of knowledge and skills that support the overall purpose for learning in RE.
Check out our practical checklist for leading RE below…
Watch this space for CoRE updates…