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We decided to apply for an RE Quality Mark at my school as the culmination of a two-year curriculum change programme that saw RE transformed into ‘religion and worldviews’.
We believed our research-informed curriculum was an example of best practice and external accreditation was a way to give validity to our view.
Quality marks are a great way for schools to show the areas they excel in.
For religious education, schools can apply for the RE Quality Mark (REQM) which celebrates outstanding practice in the study of religion and worldviews, especially those schools that provide their learners with authentic experiences and contribute to whole-school outcomes.
Started in 2012, the REQM is supported by the RE Council of England and Wales to recognise and celebrate the quality of RE nationally. Schools undertaking the award measure their effectiveness in learning, curriculum, teaching and leadership.
For staff, the award was a chance to share their favourite examples of best practice with the wider school community. In what has been an exceptionally busy year, it was a welcome opportunity to pause, reflect and celebrate what we’d achieved together.
The staff voice survey was a purposeful way to collect views and the results have informed our next CPD cycle.
Children were also involved and enjoyed the chance to speak with me about their learning and what they enjoyed the most about it. The best comment I received was from a child who said they would like “more RE than one hour per week as we always have more to talk about than the lesson allows for.”
Students were very pleased to learn that their work was being used as evidence and would be shared with people outside of our school.
The assessment process was straightforward. After applying via the REQM website, we downloaded an evidence form and a pupil voice proforma. The evidence form provides 29 areas for reflection, with each delineated into bronze, silver and gold descriptors. There’s also space to write short summaries after each section.
If you know your curriculum well, it takes about 90 minutes to draft.
The evidence form is the start of the story you tell the assessor. I included hyperlinks to evidence such as book scans and our curriculum documentation. If you’re going for the gold award, like we were, it’s worth putting in extra time and effort to capture and celebrate everything you would like the assessor to see.
For the pupil voice aspect I spoke with children from all ten classes in my school. I spent longer than the ten minutes I’d planned for with each group because they all had so much to say. I collected staff voices via an online survey. This isn’t required by REQM but was helpful in my evidencing for the leadership section.
I also sat down with my headteacher and RE governor. This was a great opportunity to explain to my school’s leaders the finer details about RE and show our successes in the subject.
The final assessment involved a 45 minute video call with our appointed assessor. They also spent 15 minutes with our headteacher. Our assessor was wonderful – they were full of praise for the school and asked pertinent questions to draw out all the details.
I’d describe it as a conversation with a critical friend, helping you to celebrate your school, learning and pupils.
I’d highly recommend applying for a Quality Mark. The process offered us a chance to reflect and celebrate what we offer. The REQM team is supportive and we were in communication with our assessor before the final event to ensure they would have all the evidence they needed.
Our school has now been added to the national register of REQM holders and we received an icon to include on our website and letterheads. The assessor’s report, included in the feedback, provides us with great evidence for future inspections. Overall, it’s a great way for schools to celebrate and promote their learning.
Matthew Lane is religion and worldviews lead at Hethersett CEVC Primary in Norwich. The school was awarded a Gold RE Quality Mark in its final assessment. Follow Matthew on Twitter at @mrmjlane and RE Quality Mark at @requalitymark. Visit Matthew’s website at theteachinglane.co.uk.
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