Religious Education is a core subject in the school curriculum. As a Church of England school, the Religious Education of our children is a strong part of our distinctive Christian vision. Our school’s vision and values permeate all areas of school life and are firmly rooted in Christian principles with Biblical foundations and feed into our teaching and approaches for all curriculum subjects, but are especially evident in our deeply reflective approach to Religious Education.
Intent - Our Vision for RE
At St Nics' we want our children to:
- Experience and enjoy an accurate, well-balanced, well-sequenced, RE syllabus which is challenging, relevant and diverse.
- Know about and understand that Christianity is a living faith that influences people across the world and is expressed in a variety of ways across traditions and cultures.
- Engage with big questions about the deep concepts and mysteries of life, listening respectfully and considering the ideas and opinions of others in order to learn to think for themselves.
- Learn about, respect and be curious about other world faiths and worldviews in a way which celebrates the rich diversity of the human experience around the world.
- Appreciate ways in which faiths, especially Christianity, influence and guide believers' lives and decisions.
- Be equipped with the knowledge and the skills to come to their own set of beliefs and values, while respecting those of others.
- Learn to engage in deep thinking and reflection in all classes, in order for them to reach their own conclusions about life's big questions.
- Be able to respectfully discuss ideas with peers, taking into account the perspective of others.
- Move onto their next schools equipped with the foundations for spiritual development which will prepare them for their journeys ahead.
Implementation - How we achieve our goal
- We follow the Surrey Agreed Syllabus for RE which was written by Guildford Diocese and Surrey school leaders, with our RE leader as part of the working party.
- Where we have identified an area of RE that we feel would benefit from more in depth focus, we have created 'Pause Days' in which we 'pause' the ordinary timetable and spend the day focusing on festivals in creative and reflective ways. These give time to explore the topic in greater detail and respond creatively to the teaching, giving children rich experiences which we all very much enjoy. Our Pause Days, include Harvest, Black History Month, Remembrance Day, Advent, Easter, UN Antiracism Day and Pentecost.
- The choice of using the ‘Jesus Storybook Bible’ as the Bible used most often in our school is to make sure that the content is of high quality and inspired. The wording of the Bible makes it accessible for young children without ‘dumbing down’ the content. This, along with carefully chosen individual Bible storybooks mean that our children get a high quality foundation in Bible knowledge and can make links between concepts and stories.
- Planning written by our teachers considers not only basic knowledge, but ways to make this relevant and inspiring for children, enabling them to make connections within the content and with their own experiences.
- Children are encouraged to listen to a range of views and perspectives, considering each with respect before making up their mind.
- Reflective and ‘Wondering’ questions prompt children to think deeply about the teaching content and seek meaning in it for themselves before sharing their thoughts with others.
- Children are asked (and supported) to explain their reasoning, views and opinions and explore the links between their ideas and those of others.
- Teachers provide frequent opportunities for children to think beyond the concrete/surface of a story or Biblical account and consider the abstract, the meaning and the application as well as the reason the account has been preserved for generations. This technique is also employed when teaching Islam and Judaism and good teacher subject knowledge enables this to be effective.
- High quality training and resources enable teachers to be ready to extend children who have grasped the concepts at the level expected for their age and ensure they provide an ambitious level of challenge for these children.
- Where a class includes children practising other faiths and worldviews, references to Christian prayer and worship may be linked to their family's practices to ensure understanding and relevancy.
- Learning about festivals may be linked with festivals celebrated by cultures represented in the class, such as Chinese New Year and Eid, so that children can make the connection between their own lives and experiences and those of somebody of another faith/culture.
- We use examples from everyday life and encourage children to share their own examples of the concepts, practices and experiences taught.
- We use examples of religious practice, artwork and architecture from a range of cultures to enhance the concept of Christianity being a world faith with many styles of expression.
- Our ethos of behaving with dignity and respect includes teaching children to listen to others’ views with respect and considering them with dignity, rather than simply dismissing them because they are different from their own.
- Reflective questions allow everyone to have their own interpretation of a story and find meaning in it for themselves. The conventional meaning from the faith being studied will be explained as well, but children often find profound meaning for themselves.
- Class discussion times allow children to share their thoughts and understanding and enable teachers to immediately address misconceptions or recap concepts and ideas not fully grasped.
- Small group teaching during the application (‘activity’) stage of lessons means teachers can talk with all children during the lesson and check understanding, supporting or extending their learning as appropriate.
- Learning objectives linked to assessment criteria allow teachers to track learning throughout a unit of work and adjust their teaching of the next lesson if needed.
- We reflect on the children’s responses to RE lessons and units and adapt our planning accordingly, so that the lessons are interesting, relevant and inspiring for children, resulting in high levels of engagement from children and a sense of ownership and enthusiasm from staff.
- We provide opportunities for spiritual development throughout our curriculum, always ensuring an inclusive invitational and inspiring approach.
Impact - How we know our vision has come to fruition
- We use assessment grids that come directly from the Surrey Agreed Syllabus End of Key Stage Attainment Statements and the national EYFS curriculum. Regular analysis of our data shows that our children achieve highly against the assessment criteria and by the end of Key Stage 1, many children have exceeded the Diocese' expectations.
- The vast majority of our children achieve at least as highly in RE as in other core subjects.
- Teacher assessment is also informed by children’s contributions during discussions which can often better reflect the depth of the children’s knowledge than through written work.
- We celebrate children’s progress in class through the use of ‘proud walls’. This allows for independent identification of children’s success of self and peers, and is also linked to our school vision and values as well as the final result.
Our children are ready for the next stage of their educational journey, leaving us:
- Able to reflect, question, form their own thoughtful opinions and listen to those of others with respect.
- With knowledge of a variety of religions and able to identify similarities and differences between these and recognise common themes and concepts.
- Understanding and making links between beliefs and their influence on actions and attitudes in daily life.
- Able to talk confidently about Christianity ad other religions studied, showing their understanding, respect and interest.
- Accepting that not all big questions can be answered, but in they can still be reflected on, discussed and wondered upon without fear of judgement.