Banbridge Academy has become the first school in Northern Ireland to be awarded a gold award for its religious department by the National RE Quality Mark.
Banbridge Academy was rated gold in all five areas including Learners and Learning, Teachers and Teaching, Curriculum, Subject Leadership and Continuing Professional Development.
The REQM award recognises outstanding learning in Religious Education and looks at all the five areas.
Principal Raymond Pollock said the award was a ‘tremendous achievement for the school’ which recognises outstanding practice in RE.
Mr Warren Brown, Head of Religious Studies at Banbridge Academy said, “Pupils and staff responded positively to the process and indeed the outcome.
“It has allowed us to celebrate the good practice in our department and for us all to recognise the value of the subject in supporting the aims and ethos of the school and in contributing to the spiritual and moral development of our pupils.
“The award gives us confidence to continue with what we are doing well and the process has provided opportunity to evaluate our practice, to ensure our contribution to whole school issues like Literacy, ICT and Teaching and Learning continues.”
Some of the pupils commented on the award.
One pupil said, “My favourite thing about RE is the fact that we as a class can learn in an unbiased environment, where everyone’s opinion counts as equal.
“We learn about different beliefs a lot. This is very interesting because these beliefs can help us understand our environment.” Another pupil said, “I like the discussions and debates because it gives us the chance to talk about things we may not be able to talk about anywhere else.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed our educational visits such as to the Crumlin Road Gaol, and our trip to Poland. “RE focuses on topics that are relevant to issues today, it helps us to have an open mind and respect other people’s opinions,” another student said.
The REQM Gold Award will enable the school to drive forward the message that they are committed to ensuring the provision of high quality RE by actively engaging learners in their studies and by challenging them to relate their exploration of Religion to local, national and global issues.