RE Session 6: Assessing RE, Reviewing Planning and PSHE

Our objectives for our final session of RE were to know about assessment in RE. Our second objective was to be able to evaluate planning to include assessment.

Our first activity was to discuss how teachers and parents feel about RE, within our table groups before then feeding back to the rest of the group. I think that we came to a group consensus, that the majority of parents are a bit unsure when it comes to their understanding of religious. We felt that parents don’t always understand the importance of RE being taught in school and that they may also be unsure what the teaching of RE entails. We also agreed that with teachers there may also be a degree of uncertainty when it comes to religious education. One reason for this is because a teacher may have taken either a PGCE degree or a GTP in which case they won’t have had as much training about RE and therefore may not be familiar with everything that the teaching of RE covers, in comparison to a BA Primary Ed student where they have three years of training and therefore may feel more secure within their knowledge and teaching of RE.

After that, we then moved on to discuss the question ‘Is Religious Education hindered, or at an advantage, as an academic subject because it is not regulated in the same way as other curriculum subjects?’ Overall everyone agreed that it was a bit of both (a hindrance and an advantage). It can be viewed as an advantage, because it means that teachers have a degree of freedom in the way in which they teach and assess RE. However, it can also be a hindrance because it is not a part of the National Curriculum it is often disregarded as not being an important subject because of this, which is not the case! We also discussed that from observations on placements we have noticed that RE is often taught by TAs in PPA time, which again shows complete disregard for RE as an important academic subject.

It is then important to consider what comes first… Plan? Assess? Or Teach?

We had the task to discuss this on our table I said assess because you can’t plan without taking into consideration children’s prior learning (which is gained from assessment). However, some other people believe that planning or teaching comes first. I think that there are arguments to support all of them coming first i.e. you can’t teach without planning first, and you can’t assess without first teaching a lesson. Although this is the case, we eventually came to the consensus that assessment comes first as you can’t plan without looking at assessment data, similarly you can’t teach without planning.

So we were then posed with the next question… how do you assess in RE?

The suggestions that we came up with as a whole group are:

–       Marking the children’s written work

–       Questioning

–       Observation

–       Discussion

–       Debates

–       Sequencing of stories

–       Group work

–       Role play

After this, we watched a clip of a successful RE lesson where its focus was about being reflective. The lesson was really fantastic to watch, particularly from my perspective as I haven’t had the opportunity to observe any RE on placement yet. It also gave me some ideas that I could take away and use in my own teaching practice, this is particularly the case as the lesson focused on meeting requirements from AT2 and I was unsure how to go about this, however I now have a better understanding of how it can be drawn into an RE lesson.

teachers media- session 6

Our next task was to go back to what we had looked at with regard to assessment, and look at a variety of different types of level descriptors that are available or used in schools as a method of assessing RE. We had to work individually to decide what descriptors we would prefer to use and why before then sharing our ideas with the rest of the group. We all agreed that we preferred the idea of using a grid format as it was clearly laid out and easy to read the information, I also found that with this example the examples given were more specific not just general statements. I thought that because of this they could therefore be applied to the classroom situation easily in comparison to the descriptors that were just ‘sweeping’ statements. We then had the opportunity to put our knowledge of the level descriptors to the test and have a go at looking at how another teacher has assessed some children’s work and decide whether or not we agreed or disagreed with the level that they had been given. I thought that the levels which had been given were pretty accurate and were a reflection of both the child’s work and the level descriptors. Reflecting on this task though, I was surprised at how difficult it could be to assess a child’s work within RE particularly if they had expressed their understanding through a drawing. However, I can take away from this that I would need to get to grips more with the level descriptors and how to assess work in RE, something which I currently have had no experience with.

Finally, for this session we discussed PSHE and its place within the new National Curriculum. Which unfortunately it seems to have little place… something which I was not aware of before the start of this session. In the new National Curriculum all that can be found for PSHE is a very small statement. There is no guidance on what children should be taught and what progression they should make as they pass through primary school. Ultimately it can be said, that the government believes that PSHE should be taught in schools, however it is completely up to the teacher how they go about teaching it.

To conclude, I have reached the end of my RE section of my blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed my RE sessions this year, I feel like I have covered a lot of information in a short space of time however I have learnt a lot from that, and hopefully this blog shows the progression that I have made this year. I can’t wait to get into the classroom either on placement or in my future career and put what I have learned in RE into practise.