How to please them all;Primary;Reviews;Religious Education;Books

14th May 1999 at 01:00

If this book needed a justification it is found in the reasons why people become RE co-ordinators, as researched by Brighton University.

Among the qualifications are having one's husband's father as a retired vicar, being the oldest member of staff and a regular churchgoer and having worked overseas in non-Christian areas. Unsurprisingly, training comes top among personal needs.

One of the strengths of this book is that it starts with the situation as it is, with co-ordinators complaining about colleagues' misunderstandings about the nature of RE, being expected to teach about world faiths of which they have scant knowledge and born-again Christians refusing to teach about other religions. An RE co-ordinator's role is not a happy one.

Derek Bastide, who works in teacher education, has achieved the right balance between the necessary theoretical and legal background and practicalities; there is even a specimen RE policy.

No aspect has been missed and advice on planning, monitoring and assessment is detailed, clear and realistic - "Recording is a highly important activity because teachers' memories are fallible". The comprehensive bibliography and resource list includes useful information on RE and ICT and the acquisition and use of artefacts.

The chapter on visits to religious buildings is essential reading because it goes beyond the usual justification for such experiences - "Some buildings speak to people at a level deeper than that of conscious thought." A plan for a visit to a church is provided and there is important advice on making the most of outside visitors' trips to the school.

The Brighton research highlights some of the real satisfactions as well as the sorrows of the job - "The real joy in supporting colleagues is to see their confidence develop."

This excellent handbook will help RE co-ordinators to make a difference in their schools. It claims to show what to do, how to do it and how to be effective. It succeeds.

Mark Williamson is adviser for humanities and RE for the London borough of Hounslow

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