The Religious Education (RE) leaders of diocesan primary schools normally meet three times a year. This October, instead of meeting at the Poringland Conference Centre for a day, we carried out two morning Zoom meetings.
During the year leaders in our schools have had to implement many mandatory changes and adaptations to school life, due to the impact of Covid-19. They have shown great commitment to ensuring safety, well-being and continued learning opportunities for their pupils, whilst keeping the whole school community fully informed.
In the primary RE leaders’ meetings, the agenda has a regular format. There is an opening prayer and reflection and an update from Hamish McQueen on the current ideas of the Ignite Team and how schools can access its wonderful and exhilarating support.
There are national updates from NBRIA (National Board of Religious Inspectors and Advisers) and the Catholic Education Service (CES). These offer direction on Catholic life, the teaching of RE and Collective Worship, as well as a comprehensive focus on the RE curriculum standards of attainment and progress for all pupils.
The development of these areas plays a vital part in denominational inspection outcomes for each individual school. It is therefore imperative that the RE leaders are updated so that they can then provide continuing professional development in their own schools. During the meetings, we also refer to the Department for Education (DfE)/Ofsted 5 updates, interim monitoring visits and RE curriculum development and expectations for pupils’ learning and progression.
Leaders work with immense dedication to ensure that the Catholic ethos is living and inclusive for the whole school community. National guidance in RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) is shared and leaders are able to plan training opportunities and the use of resources. The RE leaders’ meetings offer the opportunity for leaders to support each other and share good practice. Visiting speakers are also invited to the meetings to share quality resources and theological support.
This year, with the additional pressures of social distancing, constant sanitation, and pupil and staff ‘bubbles’ moving around schools, many aspects of school life have presented an enormous challenge. However, with the dedication and support from leaders, priests and chaplains, our pupils continue to have regular opportunities for prayer and liturgy within their class environments. Many pupils are able to experience virtual Masses with their parishes.
The RE leaders’ Zoom meetings were very well attended and we would like to thank leaders for their contributions and for providing valuable feedback. We did however miss being at the Poringland Conference Centre, which holds a special place in our hearts. It has provided spiritual, practical and culinary nourishment as we work together in faith and love.
Pictured above are Primary RE leaders at an earlier meeting in Poringland