Teacher of RE, Coopers’ Company and Coburn School.
While at University I stumbled across the School of Divinity while studying Geology. One course in Divinity was enough to cause me to switch degrees! I became an RE teacher because I wanted to equip students with the knowledge and skills that would allow them to approach religion and beliefs critically and academically. I want all my students to tackle the complex and messy reality of religion and belief, and to avoid simplistic and easy caricature. I feel privileged to spend my days passing on this great subject, which is at once ancient and modern. It is a joy to see teenagers grappling with the important issues, questions, and controversies associated with religious and belief traditions. I have been lucky through my work with the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) to meet, work with, and support, many other teachers of RE who share my passion for the subject.
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher but the dilemma for me was whether to become a primary or secondary school teacher. I went to university gaining a Theology & Religious Studies degree and decided to become a secondary school teacher, specialising in RE and History because it allowed me to continue exploring my fascination with religion and, because religion impacts on all aspects of life & interlinks with other academic subjects, I could keep myself mentally challenged as I progressed in my career.
How true that has turned out to be! I love the challenge & freedom of creating lessons that show how religion impacts on every aspect of life whether you are religious or not and can help a teenager make sense of their experiences yet provoke & challenge their ideas. The world changed on 9/11 & the sense of pride in my GCSE students who knew more about Islam & jihad than the TV commentators in the days that followed as they applied their RE to current affairs and decided that this was not Islam but a twisting of it still gives me goosebumps.
I am a tutor for the Teach RE Course because it seems a natural extension of ‘the day job’ where, as a Head of RE, I encourage & mentor my team to become the best RE teachers they can be. Teaching RE is hard work & I am always learning but the rewards outweigh that of any other subject on the curriculum!
Dr David Webster from the University of Gloucester has produced a very helpful video discussing RE teacher training. Watch it here: Training as a Religious Education Teacher: what’s it like