This week, we continue to explore how Ofsted’s new inspection framework will affect leaders across a host of different subjects. This next instalment in our blog series sees us speak with Stacey Searle, Subject Leader for RE at Falinge Park High School in Rochdale.

Keen to promote further discussion and share examples of good practice, she outlined why RE is so important to her and the wider curriculum: “RE to me has always been my passion. The reason for this being that, not only does RE shape history, but it allows pupils to develop their own future through open discussions and challenge questions that arise from current affairs. Here at Falinge Park, the emphasis as a school is not just about getting ‘good grades’ but about each individual and how it shapes them as a person in the future. It is for this reason that I knew I wanted to be subject lead at this school. To me there is no other subject like RE. Not that other subjects are not equally as important: just that it allows pupils to express themselves freely about different beliefs and practices and for pupils to feel safe in sharing these views without feeling they are getting the ‘wrong’ answer. It allows pupils to build positive relationships, celebrate diversity and promote tolerance, all of which are embedded in our school ethos.”

The above statement is what Stacey had to consider when looking at the curriculum. As a teacher of the school for five years, she already knew that she did not just want to walk into the role and completely change the curriculum – a curriculum that the team had not only worked on and developed over the years, but that Stacey had been a part of. “The previous head of department had similar views to mine, and we had planned collaboratively to meet the needs of the pupils at our school,” she explained. “Therefore, a lot of what we cover remains the same, but we are constantly adapting and refining and making our curriculum the best it can be for our students. We are constantly asking ourselves: what are the misconceptions? What key knowledge and skills do the pupils need to have? How can we make it better? How do we make learning stick?

“As religious education has no national curriculum, it does give us flexibility of what we can teach as a school, as long as it fits with the requirements of our locally agreed syllabus. Currently in KS3 we focus on allowing pupils to explore a range of religious and secular beliefs, teachings and practices, as this is something that, at GCSE, is more limited due to the requirements and the number of religions studied. Our intention here is that pupils get the chance to explore a variety of religious and non-religious view points before moving on to a more in-depth study of Christianity and Islam at KS4. Currently in year 7 our theme is ‘the communities we live in.’ It is in year 7 where our curriculum is designed to engage students in thinking about our local community in Rochdale and how we should treat our neighbours; mainly looking at Christianity and Islam, due to the make-up of our local community. In year 8 our theme for the year is ‘what my neighbour believes.’ Here we start to look at the beliefs of all six major world religions, along with some ‘lesser known religions’ and secular viewpoints. It is moving away from just our local community and looking more nationally and worldwide, whilst still making comparisons with our local community. All the while developing skills such as giving detailed opinions, debating, explaining and evaluating viewpoints, whilst making sure pupils are developing in a knowledge rich curriculum that will support them in their journey through to KS4, but most importantly throughout life.

Summarising, she added: “Our curriculum intent is to make our students aware of the society in which they live. To make them aware of current issues and different religious traditions to teach respect for other people’s views and to celebrate diversity within our society. That, I think summarises not just RE at Falinge but our ‘Falinge Family,’ because that is what we are. We might be from different backgrounds, be of different races, have different religious or no religious views, but we are all one community, learning to respect and celebrate our differences.”

Over the past few weeks, we at B11 Education have had the opportunity to connect with subject specialists such as Stacey, all of whom excel at classroom practice and demonstrate excellent subject knowledge.

Discussing their thoughts on Ofsted’s new inspection framework, head to the B11 blog where you will find insight from leaders in subjects including English, science, maths, history and more.



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