Having trained as a Post-Primary Religious Studies teacher, yet now teaching in a special school, RE remains a subject close to my heart. Our school caters for children aged 3 to 19, all of whom have a statement of educational needs. Our children present with severe learning difficulties, developmental delays, social emotional behavioural difficulties and complex medical needs.
RE is a subject which is delivered inconsistently across the school. Staff find content difficult to adapt, suitable resources hard to source and consistent time in an already packed schedule hard to find. Yet RE has a valuable part to play in developing a range of skills and capabilities in our pupils. Through learning about ourselves and others we learn our right to believe and the right of others to think differently. We learn of the multi-cultural world we live in and the right to be accepted no matter where we go. Surely there is no better place to instill these values than in our multi-cultural, accepting and diverse special school.
In recent years, literacy (in particular reading) has been a core focus in our school, with a new reading scheme – ‘Bug Club’. A gap was identified for those learners who have some recognition of high frequency words, yet not ready for the rigour and pace of a formal reading scheme. Our literacy team worked hard to encourage teachers to make their own reading books to introduce and consolidate high frequency words.
I decided to focus my Farmington time on linking RE and literacy through these formats and create story books and teaching resources which would consolidate reading skills yet also encourage teachers to deliver RE in a relevant way.