After having a large amount of time off to have my son, I have returned to the world of work in a new school a bit closer to home.
I have been helping a colleague to plan the new GCSE spec ready for teaching next half term. He has taught the Christianity unit so far and with his excellent knowledge of Christian Theology, this has been successful. He can see the knowledge of the students coming on leaps and bounds in comparison with the old wishy washy spec.
I have been helping to plan the Hinduism side of the GCSE and I must say I am so much happier with the new spec than the old. I have had to actually go away and research and read up in order to create lessons on Hinduism (it isn’t a topic I studied at University) and this fact alone has impressed me as it means that if I have to use my brain, then they have to use theirs.
I welcome knowledge in Religious Education. I think we have lacked knowledge in our curriculum for a long time and I know that the popularity of the subject sometimes falls down to the ‘exciting’ topics studied but it is often at the expense of depth in their learning. We had a hub meeting in the area recently and other heads of department do not welcome the changes in the same way.
I think when it comes to planning the new GCSE (which I’m sure many people have done by now) there has to be a positive approach or else the students will think negatively of it too.
I posted last year about the KS3 curriculum I developed and how it was all knowledge based and barely touched on the variety of religions in favour of studying 2-3 in more depth. I feel this feeds into the new GCSE spec and I think that more time given to studying the history, texts and tradition is only a good thing. I know students will struggle more but that’s because the old questions were not actually challenging and also I think most teachers would admit that they came up with formulas and cheats in order to get their students the grades. If I didn’t have FARM in my first few years of teaching, I think I would have cried. There is no doing that with the new spec, you have to teach knowledge and you have to challenge the students more than they have been before in RE.
I want to follow up this blog post with examples of how to attach teaching without the ‘cheats’. Stay tuned.