At the time of applying for the Farmington Scholarship, I was Head of Religious Education at St Paul’s Catholic high school in Wythenshawe, Manchester. In an area of Greater Manchester with significant social deprivation and within a school with more than double the national average of students with special educational needs or disability, the challenge of delivering the new, academically rigorous GCSE was a matter for great concern. It was increasingly evident that disadvantaged students would struggle to learn and engage with such detailed religious doctrine alongside a requirement to quote from specific sources of wisdom and authority, use detailed specialist language, as well as evaluate and analyse religious and non-religious beliefs in an extended piece of writing.
The original text book which we were encouraged to buy and plan from, proved too complex and we were advised that a more suitable text book would be available from the autumn of 2017. Eventually we received an examination board accredited text book in November 2017, just six months before the first cohort of students was due to sit the external examination in May 2018.
It was in these circumstances that I began to compile my own learning and revision materials through classroom based research based on trial and error, listening to student feedback, marking practice questions and adapting my practice to more effectively meet the needs of students who have struggled to understand what is required of them. The resulting revision resources are available on request.