What is Religious Education?
Religion is Latin for the linking of human and divine.
Our definition for KS2- Religious Studies is the reflection of spiritual, moral, cultural, and social views and beliefs.
Our definition for Foundation and KS1- Religious studies is learning about world views and beliefs.
Religious Education equips children with knowledge and understanding about different religious and non-religious communities and their beliefs. It provokes challenging questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, ultimate reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. Religious enquiry allows children to learn how to study religious and world views systematically, reflecting on the impact of these in the local community, nationally and globally.
The study of Religious Education teaches children to articulate their personal beliefs, values and experiences while respecting the right of others to have different views, values and ways of life. It makes a key contribution enabling children to consider British Values including tolerance and respect.
‘Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads as long as we reach the same goal? In reality, there are as many different religions as there are individuals.’
We want our children to leave Bishop Alexander LEAD Academy being resilient, responsible, respectful, aspirational, caring and independent (our school values). We also want our children to ‘broaden their horizons’ and have knowledge of the world outside our school. We want to make a difference in the lives of our children and ensure that they have a life-long passion for learning. RE supports these aspirations for our children in many different ways.
Through our RE curriculum we aim to enhance our children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural knowledge through understanding of a range of religious and world views. RE is a hugely important subject, especially in today’s world. We want our children to have the knowledge about a range of religions and world views enabling then to develop their ideas, values and identity.
We want our children to have the skills to ask challenging questions about the meaning and purpose of life, beliefs in God, ultimate reality, issues of right and wrong and what is meant to be human. We want our children to learn how to articulate clear and coherent accounts of their personal beliefs, ideas, values and experiences while respecting the rights of others to have different views, values and ways of life. We do this through the three main overarching aims of RE;
A: Know about and understand a range of religions and world views
B: Express ideas and insights about nature, significance and impact of religions and world views
C: Gain and deploy the skills needed to engage seriously with religion and world views
Through our teaching we consistently aim to raise awareness of RE as a subject and as a potential career field for the future. Engaging children in the life skills of discussion, dialogue and debate which enables them to make their reasoning clear and supports cognitive and linguistic development. They should examine the consequences of anti-social behavior, so that they can move beyond attitudes of tolerance and develop strategies towards increasing respect. The children should leave our school knowing the careers which are inherently linked with the subject and also those which use the skills that RE as a subject teaches.
They should be excited by RE and eager to learn more, questioning what they have learnt so far. They should be able to develop a positive attitude towards other people, respecting their right to hold different beliefs from their own and towards living in a world of diverse religions. The children should be fully invested in the purpose of their learning and engaged through the use of technology, artifacts, building links with faith communities including visits and speakers, and deepening and clarifying their own identity. Our children will not be limited by their starting points or life experiences. We will bring the experiences to them.
How do we teach RE?
Throughout our school we believe that RE should be taught through an enquiry-led approach, utilising the children’s critical thinking skills. Using an enquiry-led approach means that our children can ask their own questions and form their own opinions (and be willing to change them). They will be able to use their knowledge and research to structure an argument. It is especially important in today’s society to be critical and to think about what the motives are for writing certain news headlines or to look at the story behind facts and figures. We will explicitly teach children to analyse evidence and think critically to form their own opinions. We allow the children to develop their own ideas and develop their skills through carefully posed questions and the sources we use. We begin with a question, which can be posed by the teacher or the children (as they progress). We conduct a pre-assessment before a topic to understand their knowledge and skills on a subject. To enhance our learning and to stimulate the imagination we try to relate this to the children’s own experiences and interests in our topics.
We ‘bring learning to life’ to ensure that they are passionate about RE and, as we know cultural diversity is low in Newark, we try to give children experiences of the wider world. At Bishop Alexander we make use of technology so that even if we cannot physically take them to experience other cultures and religions, they can experience being there using virtual reality. We use trips to give our children a taste of what is outside of Newark, giving them life experiences that they would not otherwise have. We make sure that there are lots of opportunities for practical and physical learning experiences to excite children. They know that we can learn about and from different religions beliefs.
Our topics are structured so that children learn about different religions by working through three main overarching aims of RE;
A: Know about and understand a range of religions and world views, so they can:
- Describe, explain and analyse beliefs and practices, recognizing the diversity which exists within and between communities.
- Identify, investigate and respond to questions posed by, and responds offered by some of the sources of wisdom found in religions and worlds views.
- Appreciate and appraise the nature, significance and impact of different ways of life and ways of expressing meaning.
B: Express ideas and insights about nature, significance and impact of religions and world views so they can:
- Explain reasonable their ideas about how beliefs, practices and forms of expression influence individuals and communities.
- Express with increasing discernment their personal reflections and critical responses to questions and teachings about identity, diversity, meaning and value.
- Appreciate and appraise varied dimensions of religion.
- Find out about and investigate key concepts and questions of belonging, meaning, purpose and truth, responding to creativity.
- Enquire into what enables different communities to live together respectfully and for the wellbeing of all.
- Articulate beliefs, values and commitments clearly in order to explain reasons why they may be important in their own and other peoples’ lives.
We structure our curriculum using whole school topics and we focus on specific subjects in blocks over a number of weeks with specific links identified through other curriculum areas. Reception and Key Stage One account for 36 hours and Key Stage Two 45 hours of curriculum time. This enables us to go deeper into subjects and to make meaningful connections with other subjects.
In the Foundation Stage children develop a growing sense of self awareness of themselves, their community and their place within this, children will encounter Christianity and other faiths found in their own classroom, simply. This builds on crucial knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world and form the foundation for religious work in Key Stage 1. They will:
- Encounter religious and world views through special people, books, times, places, objects and visiting places of worship.
- Listen to and talk about stories.
- Be introduced to subject specific words and use all their senses to explore beliefs, practises and forms of expression.
- Ask questions and reflect on their own feelings and experiences.
- Use their imagination and curiosity to develop their appreciation of and wonder at the world in which they live.
In Key Stage 1, RE develops the pupil’s’ spiritual, cultural, social and moral development begun in the Foundation Stage. Children will investigate religious beliefs within Christianity and Judaism. Children will:
- Develop their knowledge and understanding of religions and world views.
- Find out about simple examples of religion that are drawn from Local, national and global contexts.
- Use basic subject specific vocabulary.
- Raise questions and begin to express their own views in response to the materials they learn about and in response to questions about their ideas.
In Key Stage 2, pupils expand their knowledge to include Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. Children will:
- Further extend their understanding of religious and world views, recognising their local, national and global contexts.
- Be introduced to an extended range of sources and subject specific vocabulary
- Be encouraged to be curious and ask increasingly challenging questions about religion, beliefs, values and human life.
- Learn to express their own ideas in response to the materials they engage with, identifying relevant information, selecting examples and giving reasons to support their ideas and views.