Curriculum Intent for Religious Education
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Our pupils learn best through experiential learning and our curriculum is built around this. At Usworth Colliery, our RE curriculum provokes challenging questions about the meaning of life, beliefs about God and what it means to be human. We aim to develop the pupil’s understanding of principal religions and encourage respect for all faiths and beliefs through religious visits, interactions with artefacts and people, and religious experiences. We provide the pupils with opportunities they may not otherwise access enabling them to explore their own beliefs, sense of identify and belonging. Through this reflective approach, pupils are offered a curriculum which is respectful and tolerant encouraging them to be flexible in their thinking about our diverse society. RE helps to develop the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils through a range of experiences that put their new knowledge into a real world context, preparing them to be citizens of the future.
Religious Education encourages pupils to reflect upon their own beliefs and values as well as the ideas of others. By developing their tolerance and understanding of others, our curriculum encourages pupils to adopt a growth mind-set in order develop skills of reflection, response and empathy.
Our RE curriculum is based on the Sunderland Agreed Syllabus 2014, which incorporates the expectations of the national curriculum and is designed to match to the needs and interests of our pupils. This syllabus is underpinned by three key principles: Knowledge and Understanding of Religion, Critical Thinking and Personal Reflection. These run through all aspects of RE teaching and pupils are supported to develop their ability to understand religious beliefs and customs, think critically about and reflect upon what they have learned. This curriculum is progressive and each new topic or learning experience builds on the skills knowledge and understanding previously taught. Additionally, each year group studies an element of the Christmas story, the Easter story and Christian symbols and practises.
To support the unique needs of our pupils the curriculum has vocabulary and reading at its core. As pupils progress through school, children’s vocabulary is improved, through consistent exposure to new words from age appropriate texts and taught subject specific vocabulary. Teaching builds on previously learnt vocabulary and the acquisition of this allows the children to discuss, reflect and critically reason about religion. Through the use of enquiry questions, the pupils can begin to develop their understanding of the differing dimensions in their study of religion which actively engages them in the learning process. Children investigate issues surrounding religion and beliefs by engaging, exploring, enquiring, investigating evaluating and reflecting; becoming more independent in using these steps as they progress through the school.
Our Curriculum creates learners who are:
At Usworth Colliery Primary School we recognise the role of Religious Education in achieving this aim as RE both supports and strengthens what we aim to do in all aspects of school life. As children are introduced to different peoples and cultures of the world they will develop an understanding and be encouraged to foster positive attitudes towards beliefs, values and traditions of individuals, communities, societies and cultures. Through RE, we aim to encourage pupils to develop their own sense of identity and belonging which will enable them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a pluralistic society and global community. The teaching of RE, therefore, has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and lifelong learning.
At Usworth Colliery Primary School we believe that Religious Education provides opportunities to promote:
Children develop the capacity to recognise and appreciate that there is more to life than the routine and every day. For example:
- different cultures have different routines
- there are defining moments in life
- getting to know ourselves and who we really are character-forming, life-enhancing and affirming.
Children learn about the difference between right and wrong. For example:
- they can discuss moral issues and dilemmas
- they understand why and how acting on principles, beliefs and values have consequences
- they recognise justice, fairness and honesty and develop a consideration for the concern of others.
Children learn to understand that getting on with others is important. For example:
- they recognise roles, rights and responsibilities
- they understand that working with others for the common good are all part of religious faith
- the understand how to live as an individual in a community and in society at large, accepting each other, forming positive relationships and treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves.
Children learn about tradition and identity. For example:
- they develop insight into the culture to which we belong and that has shaped our lives
- they appreciate cultural diversity through valuing richness and differences across cultures towards living in a multi – cultural, multi-ethnic, multi faith society and country
- they develop aesthetic appreciation, usually associated with arts, understanding what is great and good and fine, for example in music, architecture and literature.
Teaching of RE is based on three elements (key focus) which are of equal importance and should be reflected in all planning and schemes of work.
Key focus 1: Knowledge and Understanding of Religion
This is about what religion is and the impact it has for individuals and communities. It involves investigation of and enquiry into the nature of religion and belief through the four RE concepts:
- Expressions of Belief
- Impact of Belief
Pupils will develop their knowledge and understanding of individual religions and distinctive religious traditions, and apply this to considering ways in which religions 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 traditions.
Key focus 2: Critical Thinking
Critical thinking requires pupils to use reason to analyse and evaluate the claims that religions 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 different types of reasoning including intuition e.g. the many differing reasons why people might hold onto a religious faith.
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 (e.g. 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. This is at the heart of Philosophy for Children.
Key focus 3: Personal Reflection
This develops pupils’ ability to reflect on religion 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.
Religious Education units are taught throughout the school year either in a regular weekly or fortnightly session or as a longer focused project. The RE curriculum is organised in topics based on the Sunderland Agreed Syllabus Exemplar Planning. The attainment targets reflected in planning ensure that children reflect upon personal values, beliefs and attitudes and that age appropriate skills and knowledge in learning about and from religion are taught regularly across the whole school throughout the year.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage time sufficient to teach the Agreed Syllabus should be dedicated to Religious Education.
In Key Stage 1 approximately 36 hours per annum should be dedicated to Religious Education.
In Key Stage approximately 45 hours per annum should be dedicated to Religious Education.
Religious Education in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage children are given the opportunity to learn about religion and from religion beginning with familiar experiences and then gradually widening their experiences to take them into what is new and unfamiliar. Children’s learning takes place by doing, listening, role play, engaging in music, art and experiencing through their senses. Through asking and answering questions children begin to show an understanding of their own cultures and beliefs and develop a respect for their own cultures and those of other people. They begin to consider the consequences of their words and actions on themselves and others and are encouraged to explore and find out about the place they live in and the natural world around them.
Withdrawal from Religious Education
Parents may withdraw their child from Religious Education provided they give written notification to the school. (Education Reform Act 1988 Section 2(1)(a). (Details to be found in the DFE Circular 1/94, paragraphs 44-49). Before giving written notification they must arrange to speak with the Headteacher.