Religious Education is a subject of extreme importance, in that it allows children to learn about, experience, and hopefully appreciate, the diversity of the world in which they live. It allows them to not only learn facts, but begin to develop their own opinions about religion and culture, and empathise with the beliefs of others. It is a subject in which they are encouraged to share their thoughts in a safe environment, without there being any right or wrong answers and it offers endless opportunities for children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
British values will also be promoted through RE teaching and should take place across the whole of school life in both the formal (subject) and informal curriculum.
The fundamental British values are identified as:
• Rule of law
• Individual freedom
• Mutual respect and tolerance for other faiths and beliefs
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION will also contribute to the teaching of Literacy through oracy, reading and writing.
RE is based on:
Knowledge and Understanding of Religion
(South Tyneside Agreed Syllabus 2020.)
Knowledge and Understanding
Pupils will develop knowledge and understanding of what is meant by religion and the term ‘religious and non-religious world views’ and the impact these have for individuals and communities. It involves investigation of and enquiry into the nature of religion and differing belief systems. Pupils will develop their knowledge and understanding of individual religions and some non-religious worldviews. They will apply this to considering ways in which these are similar to and different from each other. Older students will be able to connect significant features of religion together in a coherent pattern. All pupils will enquire into ultimate questions and ethical issues through their study of religious and non-religious worldviews.
Critical thinking (impersonal evaluation) requires pupils to use reason to analyse and evaluate the claims that religious and non-religious worldviews make. Through learning in this way pupils have the opportunity to give opinions, support their ideas with reason, consider alternative arguments, weigh up evidence and listen to and respond to the views of others, so developing the ability to articulate their own views and form their own opinions. Critical thinking requires pupils to be open minded and to value the varied reasons and ideas people use when exploring an issue and giving their views. These views can be based on a variety of resources and can include personal experience and intuition.
Critical thinking in RE is accessible to pupils of all ages and can be formally assessed. Pupils can demonstrate progress through the quality of their ability to analyse various viewpoints, explain or justify their opinion and evaluate the opinions of others. It is not the opinion itself which is assessable (eg some pupils may state opinions which affirm or deny religious faith; both are acceptable in the RE classroom) but the process of developing and justifying opinions.
Personal reflection (personal evaluation) develops pupils’ ability to reflect on religious and non-religious worldviews in relation to their own beliefs, values and experiences and the influence of these on their daily life, attitudes and actions.
Personal evaluation is introspective, subjective and private. Pupils can make personal progress through reflection, empathy, developing respect and appreciation of others but this should not be assessed by teachers. Pupils could partake in some private self assessment if they wished, but this would not be included in reporting their progress in RE. Personal Reflection in RE makes a significant contribution to pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
In Lord Blyton Primary School we cover these elements through following the principles of the National Curriculum and Agreed Syllabus for RE in South Tyneside 2020.
Aims of Religious Education Within our School
The aims of RE at Lord Blyton School are:
- To foster understanding and insight into religious practices, beliefs and traditions. Christianity will be the main religion but not the only one studied.
- To aid pupils in searching for personal purpose, place and perspective in their lives. To encourage them to ask questions, particularly about meaning and purpose.
- To foster an attitude where pupils can find common ground, irrespective of religious beliefs on values, moral issues and society.
- To provide pupils with opportunities to reflect on their own experiences of life.
- To promote tolerance and empathy with people of different traditions, sexes and cultures.
- To encourage pupils to respect individuality.
- To provide equal opportunities.
- To help children to recognise their own and local culture.
- To help them to understand and respect cultural differences.
In addition to these aims, we expect pupils to develop attitudes such as a willingness to explore the religious and spiritual experiences of humanity and a commitment to searching with an open mind.
Early Years Foundation Stage
During the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), RE may be taught as part of whole class topics or themes. The South Tyneside Agreed Syllabus 2020 uses the following themes to explore religion: Special, Belonging. Children could explore these ideas through topics such as special times, special objects, special people, special books, how we show belonging, the natural world, new life, new places, story, provide excellent opportunities for RE foundation work in Nursery and Reception and can be successfully built on at Key Stage 1.
Examples for exploration in RE: – Let’s find out about the Christmas story – Let’s find out about Raksha Bandha
Breadth of Study
Key Stage 1: Christianity, Judaism
Key Stage 2: Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, (plus a small special study of Islam)
Key Stage 1
Pupils must be taught about:
• Christianity – introduction to beliefs and practices and their impact.
Example of Unit Question – How do Christians celebrate Easter?
• Judaism – introduction to some beliefs and practices and their impact.
Example of Unit Question – Why is Moses special to Jewish people?
• Religious diversity – introduction to the diverse religious and non-religious landscape in the local area (including differing denominations).
Example of Unit Question – What can we find out about our local faith communities?
Key Stage 2
Pupils must be taught about:
- Christianity – beliefs and practices across the denominations and the impact of these for individuals and communities.
Examples of Unit Question – Why are Good Friday and Easter Sunday the most important days for Christians? – So, what do we now know about Christianity? (Statutory Bridging Unit)
- Hinduism – some beliefs and practices and the impact of these for individuals and communities
Example of Unit Question – What do Hindus believe?
- Sikhism – some beliefs and practices and the impact of these for individuals and communities
Example of Unit Question – Why do Sikhs go to the Gurdwara?
- religious diversity – the diverse religious and non-religious landscape across the region, including a special study of a local Muslim community
Examples of Unit Questions – What can we find out about diversity in our region? – What can we find out about a local Muslim community? similarities and differences within and between religious and non-religious worldviews through at least one thematic study eg about ritual, the environment, care for others
Examples of Unit Questions – How do people show care for others? – Why do people use ritual in their lives?
Entitlement & Curriculum Provision
- Religious Education is a subject which should be taught each week throughout the academic year. It should make up approximately 5% of the timetable, therefore 45 minutes is acceptable in key stage 1, increasing to one hour in key stage 2, per week. However, where appropriate, the teaching of RE could take place over whole afternoons or days (to allow for enquiry based research, a visit to a place of worship, a visitor to school). It is also recommended that the short units on Christmas and Easter (approx 4 hours) are delivered across one day or two afternoons. Although there are many ways in which religious education can be covered in other subjects, for example literacy, it should still have its own allotted time within the weekly timetable. This can then be spent on more practical or discussion-based activities, and the opportunity to record their findings, opinions, etc could be given during an extended writing session.
- The majority of the teaching within our school will be based on Christianity, though children are entitled to learn about other faiths, and through following the Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in South Tyneside 2020 (from which the school’s RE Scheme of Work comes from), will be given the opportunity to do so.
- All units require teachers to include opportunities for pupils to reflect on meaning (not assessed), learn about religion and learn from religion.
- The learning objectives identified in the units of work cover the full entitlement for pupils. There is a suitable balance between expecting pupils to express their own ideas through speaking and listening and to record what they have learnt through writing, illustrations and diagrams (cross-curricular links are important here).
- Teachers provide stimulating and challenging experiences that enable pupils to gain enjoyment from their studies.
- Opportunities for visits to places of interest and visitors to school are features of the curriculum. In this way, pupils have first-hand experiences of the religious traditions.
Teaching and Learning
Pupils are provided with as much first hand experience of the principal religions as possible and artefacts and authentic resources are used wherever possible.
Where religious artefacts are used they are to be treated with the respect they would be given if they were being used in the actual setting for worship.
When teaching RE, the school does not seek commitment by the pupils to a particular religion. Teachers should not assume that pupils are members of any faith community. They should avoid phrases such as “When you go to church…” and use statements such as “When Christians/Jews go to the church/synagogue…”
The integrity of pupils is respected and they are never asked or expected to believe the claims of a religion.
Sacred literature is treated with respect. For example biblical material is presented as the sacred text of the believing community to whom it is the Word of God. Biblical stories are used to identify what they teach believers about God and his relationship with people.
Pupils are provided with opportunities to explore and comment on the themes they perceive in a story. The experiences and views that pupils bring from home and from faith communities are always valued.
Assessment and Recording
Assessment of RE, as with any subject, should be:
The following table shows the type of assessment that should be taking place and how it is useful.
|Who uses the assessments?||Teachers||Teachers, pupils (self-assessment)||Next teacher, parents/carers.|
|Are the assessments recorded?||Not in a formal way, e.g. teachers’ own notes, marking of work etc.||Class records/tracking sheets. Samples of work.||Work covered and children’s achievements will be featured in end of year reports.|
|Should the records be retained or discarded?||Discarded unless teacher chooses to retain for personal file or is in pupils’ RE books.||Kept for the duration of the school year.||Retained and passed on to next teacher (copies of reports).|
|What are the points of reference?||National Curriculum and Agreed Syllabus for RE in South Tyneside 2020.||National Curriculum and Agreed Syllabus for RE in South Tyneside 2020.||National Curriculum and Agreed Syllabus for RE in South Tyneside 2020.|
- In the short-term, teachers should be assessing against the learning objectives and success criteria for a given lesson. This will be done through marking of work and questioning during the plenary.
- In the medium term, teachers should refer to the unit being taught, take the key skills and objectives for that unit and record pupil progress in a manageable way.
- Teachers will also use the Benchmark Expectations in Knowledge and Understanding and Critical Thinking for ages 7, 9 and 11 in the South Tyneside Agreed Syllabus for 2020 as the basis of planning and assessment.
- In the long term, report comments should feature some mention of a child’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development – this should take precedence over stating the topics that have been covered.
When planning RE lessons, teachers must allow for a wide variation in terms of teaching styles, pupil activities and recording of work, to ensure that lessons are engaging and stimulating for all pupils.
Teachers have been provided with planning for most units from the Agreed Syllabus for RE in South Tyneside 2020 and these have been saved into a shared file on the Staff Shared Drive entitled RE 2021.
Although much of the formative assessment will take place after more practical activities, e.g. visits, debates, role-play etc, it is equally important to provide pupils with opportunities to record their work.
Recording can and should be done in a range of ways, such as diagrams, comprehension, sketches, storyboards etc. This not only provides concrete evidence of what children have been learning about, but also allows for cross-curricular activities, some of which are listed below.
Literacy: Extended writing (about a particular festival, for example); argumentative writing; diary entries (such as empathising with a Bible character); descriptive writing (what it is like inside a synagogue, for example).
PSHCE: Many units offer opportunities for children to explore their own inner feelings and self-awareness. Questions to help them develop these skills could include:
- What would you have done in that situation?
- What message do you think Jesus was trying to convey in that story?
- Why do you think Muslims follow these rules before entering a mosque?
- What artefact do you own that is of real importance to you and why is it so special?
Art: Looking at photographs, paintings of religious characters, events, ect; drawing what they believe God or Jesus to look like; visiting and sketching places of worship; handling religious artefacts.
ICT: There is a wide range of websites for both RE and moral & social issues which children can use independently to do research, or which teacher can use as the focus for a lesson.
Music: Using songs and music specific to other religions and cultures. Using instruments to mimic a certain style.
RE resources have been distributed to the teachers of relevant year groups.
We currently have a range of text books, photocopiables, ideas banks, videos, poster packs, jigsaws, artefacts etc which we need to be making full use of. Teachers can also make use of the internet to view videos etc. Staff should see which resources could be useful to them prior to commencing a new topic, so they can be accounted for when doing their planning.
Visits, to places of worship for example, should also be booked as early in advance as possible.
The Learning Environment
Some form of RE display should always be featured in either the classroom or corridor, whether as a wall or table display. This should be useful and informative for the children, for example featuring a word bank or glossary that is specific to the topic being covered. However, it should also feature their work to show that it is appreciated and valued.
Effective teaching of RE at Lord Blyton Blyton Primary School will enable our pupils to develop good skills and attitudes in Religious Education.
SKILLS IN RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Throughout the key stages the pupils should increasingly have opportunities to develop a range of skills. The skills should be considered at the start of Medium Term Planning. Some of the skills are more appropriate to knowledge and understanding (eg investigation), critical thinking (eg evaluation) or personal reflection (eg empathy) but all are necessary for good balanced RE learning and progress. Skills that are essential for pupils to learn and make progress in Religious Education are:
Investigation and Enquiry • asking relevant questions • knowing how to use different types of sources as a way of gathering information • knowing what may constitute evidence for understanding religion(s) • ascertaining facts
Interpretation • drawing meaning from artefacts, art, poetry and symbolism • interpreting religious language • suggesting meanings of religious texts • explaining why people belong to faith communities
Application • making the association between religions and individual, community, national and international life • identifying key religious values and their interplay with secular ones
Expression (learning to communicate) • pursuing a line of enquiry or argument • identifying and giving expression to matters of deep concern and responding to religious and moral issues through a variety of media • giving an informed opinion and expressing a personal viewpoint
• exercising critical and appreciative judgement in order to distinguish between belief, prejudice, superstition, viewpoint, opinion and fact in connection with issues of conviction and faith • distinguishing between the features of different religions
Evaluation • debating issues of religious significance, with reference to evidence, factual information and argument • weighing the respective claims of self interest, consideration for others, religious teaching and individual conscience
Reflection and Response
• thinking reflectively about feelings, relationships, experience, ultimate questions, moral issues, beliefs and practices • developing a personal interest and curiosity in puzzling, searching and challenging questions
Empathy • considering the thoughts, feelings, experiences, beliefs, attitudes and values of others • developing the power of imagination to identify feelings such as love, wonder, forgiveness and sorrow • seeing the world through the eyes of others and issues arising from their point of view
ATTITUDES IN RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
RE encourages pupils to develop positive attitudes to their own and others’ beliefs, ideas, experiences, feelings and values, in a classroom climate that recognises and respects difference. The following attitudes can be developed and should be planned for in units of work at every key stage.
RE can give the opportunity for pupils to: • recognise their own sense of self-worth and value • develop the capacity to consider their own beliefs, values and attitudes, and feel confident to communicate these to others without fear of embarrassment or ridicule • develop personal, intellectual and moral integrity as they consider their own religious, moral and spiritual ideas • acknowledge bias and prejudice in themselves • become increasingly sensitive to the impact of their ideas, attitudes and behaviour on others.
RE can give the opportunity for pupils to: • recognise that others have a right to have different beliefs and practices to their own • recognise that people’s convictions are often deeply held • be sensitive to the feelings, ideas, needs and concerns of others • listen to and learn from others, even when views are different from their own • value difference and diversity • discern what is worthy of respect and what is not • appreciate that some beliefs are not inclusive and consider the issues that this raises for individuals and society.
RE can give pupils the opportunity to: • learn and gain new understanding • look beyond surface impressions • recognise that people hold a wide range of opinions • listen to the views of others without prejudging their response • consider evidence and argument, disagreeing reasonably and respectfully, about religious, moral and spiritual questions • develop the ability to live with uncertainty and ambiguity.
Appreciation and Wonder
RE can give the opportunity for pupils to: • appreciate the wonder of the world in which we live – its beauty, order, shape, pattern, mystery • value insight, imagination, curiosity and intuition as ways of perceiving reality • recognise that knowledge is bounded by mystery • develop their capacity to respond to questions of meaning and purpose • develop their imagination and curiosity.
Leadership & Management
RE Co-ordinator: Mrs Kelly Simpson
The RE co-ordinator is responsible for:
- Supporting staff as they familiarise themselves with the Locally Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education
- Attending any relevant courses and feeding back to staff
- Putting together the annual RE action plan
- Monitoring the teaching and learning of the subject through lesson observations; work scrutiny, questioning of children
- Auditing and updating resources.
This policy will be reviewed annually, with the RE co-ordinator reviewing the quality of its implementation and its impact on raising the standards of RE within the school. Any amendments will be made accordingly.
RE Scheme of Work – Lord Blyton Primary School
(Following the Agreed Syllabus for RE in South Tyneside 2020)