As a Church of England school, Religious Education carries a high status within our curriculum – it is our 4th ‘core’ subject. Our Religious Education curriculum provides opportunities for our children to explore the significant theological concepts within Christianity and different world religions, developing their thinking and their understanding of the world and their experiences within it. RE is a key subject where we promote Building Learning Power skills: children are constantly encouraged to question, make links, distil information, notice and reason. We want children to feel that they belong to a loving, extended school family and through the exploration of concepts in RE, this supports children making sense of who they are and how they fit in the world.
By following RE Today schemes (including Understanding Christianity) at Aiskew, Leeming Bar CE Primary School, we intend that Religious Education will:
- Adopt an enquiry-based approach which starts with the children’s own life experience before moving into learning about and from religion.
- Provoke challenging questions about the meaning and purpose of life, beliefs, of self, and issues of right and wrong, commitment and belonging. It develops pupils’ knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other principal religions, and religious traditions that examine these questions, fostering personal reflection and spiritual development.
- Encourage pupils to explore their own beliefs (religious or non-religious), in the light of what they learn, as they examine issues of religious belief and faith and how these impact on personal, institutional and social ethics; and to express their responses.
- Enable pupils to build their sense of identity and belonging, which helps them flourish within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society.
- Teach pupils to develop respect for others, including people with different or no faiths and different beliefs, and helps to challenge prejudice.
- Prompt pupils to consider their responsibilities to themselves and to others, and to explore how they might contribute to their communities and to wider society. It encourages empathy, generosity and compassion.
- Develop a sense of awe, wonder and mystery.
- Nurture children’s own spiritual development.
- Engage pupils in systematic enquiry into significant human questions which religion and worldviews address, so that pupils can develop the understanding and skills needed to appreciate and appraise varied responses to these questions, as well as develop responses of their own.
Our teaching of RE is taught in blocks each term. Children are encouraged to use and apply their knowledge through a range of tasks developed through Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Our teaching follows guidance from the North Yorkshire Agreed Syllabus and is taught through units of work which fit this syllabus from RE Today, including the Understanding Christianity scheme of work.
Because we are a church school, the progressive, spiral approach found in Understanding Christianity, as well as the unique way that this scheme of work supports the development of children’s spirituality, we have taken the opportunity to adopt this scheme for all units which are about Christianity which is in accordance with our locally Agreed Syllabus. Understanding Christianity supports pupils in exploring the significant theological concepts within Christianity as part of developing their wider religious, theological and cultural literacy. Understanding Christianity is a spiral curriculum where 8 key concepts are built upon and re-visited in order to deepen pupils’ understanding:
Use of a spiral curriculum is our preferred approach as we believe it to be most effective when delivering learning to a whole key stage.
Understanding Christianity is written by RE Today and therefore dovetails with our other RE Today units and has a similar approach through asking big questions.
Teaching & Learning Approach
By addressing key questions, Understanding Christianity encourages pupils to explore core Bible texts, examine the impact for Christians and consider possible implications. Each unit incorporates the three elements:
Making sense of the text – developing skills of reading and interpretation; understanding how Christians interpret, handle and use biblical texts; making sense of the meanings of texts for Christians.
Understanding the impact – examining ways in which Christians respond to biblical texts and teachings, and how they put their beliefs into action in diverse ways within the Christian community and in the world.
Making connections – evaluating, reflecting on and connecting the texts and concepts studied, and discerning possible connections between these and pupils’ own lives and ways of understanding the world.
Each unit begins with a ‘way in’ and then offers teaching and learning ideas for each element. The teacher chooses how to weave together the elements, from making sense of the text, through looking at the impact on the world of the Christian, and helping to make connections with the world of the pupil, in order to achieve the outcomes.
This model shows that the Understanding Christianity approach is not just getting pupils to learn what Christians think. Instead, it is about developing skills to help them ‘think theologically’ alongside learning lots of knowledge about the Bible, Christian belief and practice. It also shows that these three elements do not represent rigid, distinct steps, but that pupils can ‘make connections’ whilst ‘making sense of the text’, for example. These three strands also fit beautifully with our Building Learning Power approach.
To find out more about Understanding Christianity you can visit the website:
RE Today units of work meet the requirements of our locally agreed syllabus and is aligned to the non-statutory guidance (2010) described above. The RE Today units have been split up into three areas: believing (religious beliefs, teachings, sources; questions about meaning, purpose and truth); expressing (religious and spiritual forms of expression; questions about identity and diversity); and living (religious practices and ways of living; questions about values and commitments).
RE Today units brings together learning about and from religion, questioning and spiritual development in a comprehensive scheme of learning. Teaching strategies are varied and are mindful of preferred learning styles and the need for differentiation. Each unit of work is centred around key questions. Throughout each unit, the learning is assessed and children have opportunity to express their own thoughts and beliefs and empathise with believers of that religion or belief position.
Language acquisition is a key driver for our school in order to make us inclusive given the number of EAL and SEND learners. Each unit begins with a ‘new vocabulary’ sheet which is RAG rated by the children. Throughout the unit, the meaning of the new vocabulary is explored and recorded on the sheet. The expectation is that whenever children are speaking or writing, they try to use this new language accurately as many times as possible. They are then rewarded with Dojos. Children are encouraged to highlight the new vocabulary in their written work.
Religious Education at Aiskew, Leeming Bar CE Primary School develops pupils’ knowledge and understanding of, and their ability to respond to, Christianity, other principal world religions, other religious traditions and world views; understanding and respect for different religions, beliefs, values and traditions (including ethical life stances), through exploring issues within and between faiths; understanding of the influence of faith and belief on individuals, societies, communities and cultures; skills of enquiry and response through the use of religious vocabulary, questioning and empathy; skills of reflection, expression, application, analysis and evaluation of beliefs, values and practices, and the communication of personal responses to these.
RE encourages pupils to consider challenging questions of the meaning and purpose of life; beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human; understand the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures; learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions while exploring questions of meaning and their own beliefs; learn about religious and ethical teaching, enabling them to make reasoned and informed responses to religious, moral and social issues; develop their sense of identity and belonging, preparing them for life as citizens in a plural, global society; develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own.
It enhances pupils’ awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression; ability to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their responses. It also offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development.