It’s hard to believe that it’s a year ago that RE teachers were gathered at a hotel in outer London for Strictly RE 2020. Little did we know how things would change for Strictly RE 2021. Everything has moved online and it’s already begun!
This year, NATRE have thought carefully about how they can support us RE teachers in accessing the same excellent sessions but from the comfort of our own homes. It is all online, a situation that comes with challenges but also offers some benefits.
Strictly RE 2021 comes to us with the same range of sessions and expert speakers as always, but instead of lasting one day, the main event spans two days over the weekend (30th and 31st January). As an added bonus there are additional seminars in the lead up to the weekend. This year’s sessions are focused on the three themes of Curriculum, Worldviews and Anti-racist RE and offers delegates 4 keynotes and 24 seminars across these topics. As the live sessions are being recorded, we can access the sessions after the event. This is a real benefit for us, allowing us to watch them again and to continue conversations beyond the conference days.
Another benefit of being online is that we can also play ‘online webinar’ bingo! How many times will you hear ‘Can you see my screen?’ ‘Can you hear me?’ ‘Put your questions in the chat!’
I’ve chosen mainly Secondary sessions, with my weekday seminars ranging from teaching GCSE to teaching about the Holocaust in RE and ‘Humanist lives’.
On the Saturday I’m really looking forward to the keynote from Christine Counsell on Curriculum. She is known for her insightful and practical thoughts on teaching and I hope that she will start the first day off with some ideas that we can go on to ponder over the following two days.
As the world of RE considers how the concept of Worldviews might be part of our subject’s development, the second keynote from Amira Tharani, Lois Lee and Stephen Pett promises to be a thought-provoking session on current thinking.
There’s also an RE quiz on the Saturday night. I’m not saying I’m competitive, but I’ll be there!
On the Sunday, I’m particularly looking forward to the subject knowledge session on Teaching Hinduism at Key Stage 3 with Joanne Harris. It’s an area of my teaching that I know I can improve, so I hope that it gives me some new knowledge and ideas and that we can add to our schemes.
Meeting and sharing
I think we will all miss the opportunity for physically meeting with each other. However, we can share ideas in some of the sessions and the virtual staffroom, as well as meeting with local colleagues and the regional ambassadors in breakout sessions. To keep up-to-date with what is happening on the days, we can follow the Strictly hashtag on Twitter (#StrictlyRE). I will also be live tweeting from the sessions I attend through the OUP Twitter account @OxfordEdRE
We can also spend time visiting the ‘virtual’ exhibition with all the usual ‘stands’ for inspiration and support for the world of RE. Make sure you visit the OUP stand to discover their new Eduqas GCSE Religious Studies course and more. So, this year, instead of organising our train tickets or filling up a full tank of petrol we’ll be organising our mics, cameras (both optional) and online links. Let’s see how Strictly RE 2021 embraces the new world of online of CPD!
Dawn Cox is a Head of RE and SLE in Essex. She tweets as @missdcox.
You can read her key takeaways from last year’s Strictly RE conference here.