YA scheme: what are students and teachers saying?
Young Ambassador students say:
I expected the YA scheme to make us challenge ourselves to try and promote RE for a variety of different people. However, speaking at Westminster was better than I could have ever imagined!
Because of the YA scheme, the RE department has flourished! Because of the trip to Westminster, the RE department has gotten a lot of attention from both staff and students. People in the younger years are now aspiring to become RE leaders within our school and teachers are becoming more interested in the subject.
The students who participated in the RE scheme have grown in confidence, and developed skills in public speaking.
Y9 and Y10 students were keen to support the YA team and saw them as representatives of the whole school. This meant that more than just the team felt a sense of being part of something that mattered.
Many more students are picking RE as a GCSE option or Philosophy and Ethics as an A level. Extra curricular activities such as Philosophy Society are also gaining new members. Because of this many more students are taking part in school wide debates.
The idea here is to create a team of 'Junior RE Leaders'. Our current ambassadors are continuing to study RS at our 6th form and so our younger and older pupils will then work together.
There are opportunities for students to get involved in RE outside the classroom, making links with the school media club to develop blog and film making.
The YA scheme has helped me to become more confident as a person, and to know that my voice can be heard. It has also developed my skills in public speaking and leadership, which I think will benefit me later in life.
I am really thankful for this opportunity as I have had many experiences that have taught me a lot. Being able to explain to adults how important RE is, and to fellow students, has been really important to me. I am passionate about RE and it is great to spend time with others who feel the same.
Teachers on the Young Ambassadors scheme say:
It has given us opportunities, provided a focus and sense of purpose for the promotion of RE in our school, demonstrates to pupils, parents and school community that people are interested in RE. We've also enjoyed seeing how different schools have approached the scheme.
Prior to the YA scheme our department was beginning to grow and thrive. However, we have reached new heights since March! Our involvement in the scheme has raised the profile of our subject amongst pupils, teaching staff, SLT, parents and the local community. YA gave us the platform we needed! Everywhere you go in Redhill you see the presence of the RE department. Updates and photos of our work are displayed across school on our TV screens. Our projects are mentioned in nearly every staff briefing!
Raising the profile. RE was already well thought of within the school, but the scheme challenged us to go beyond that and actively promote RE at our school.
The scheme has allowed our ambassadors to gain valuable leadership experience. This has had an influence on the way they conduct themselves around school and in the local community. All five have always been hard working and conscientious but this investment in their maturity and ability has led them to develop a real presence at Redhill. Staff constantly ask about our plans for future projects and are now even taking an interest in the reporting of RE in the media.
One of our members of YA is quite disaffected at school generally but this has given him pride in his achievements and an awareness of responsible behaviour especially when acting as an Ambassador for RE when talking to guests.
Staff are now interested in RE! I get emails informing me about relevant discussions and debates happening all over school. Many of our teachers are now starting to understand the cross-curricular links religious education has with many of their subjects.
Within our department our two NQTs have clearly been inspired and are now wanting to lead projects of their own.
Teachers from various departments have actively been helping the YA to succeed in their efforts. Various teachers have listened to their cause to make sure RE is treated with respect in the education system. They have also helped them produce resources to promote RE (especially in the ICT department).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the way the YA scheme has impacted on my own professional development. I feel that I have found 'my place' in helping to promote religious education as an academically rigorous subject and fighting for quality provision for RE for all young people ... I have started to put plans in place to set up a local network with both primary and secondary schools. This will provide a fantastic opportunity for us to help spread the buzz and excitement in our department. We have also been asked to host a meeting of our local SACRE and give a half hour long presentation about our work.