Religious Education at Alexander First School
At Alexander First School, we aim to engage pupils in systematic enquiry into significant human questions which religion and worldviews address, so that they can develop the understanding and skills needed to appreciate and appraise varied responses to these questions, as well as develop responses of their own.
We follow the Discovery Education scheme of work. This syllabus offers increased flexibility and extra support for planning as well as providing practical strategies, guidance and resources for teachers.
Religious Education provides rich opportunities for children and young people to learn about things that matter in the lives of local people and the wider world. This agreed syllabus enables pupils to study beliefs, teachings and ways of living, and is structured so that they can explore a range of responses to questions of identity, meaning, purpose, values and commitments. In the process they can examine and reflect upon their own ideas and values. At a time when religious beliefs guide the lives of billions of people worldwide, understanding people’s views can be a first step to recognising and appreciating diversity. This is particularly important at a time of global tensions. This agreed syllabus inspires creative, challenging and thoughtful Religious Education to promote personal development. It offers support and guidance for teachers to enable pupils to make excellent progress. It encourages a thoughtful and questioning approach to life and seeks to lay the foundation for schools, so that their pupils grow in understanding of themselves and the world in which they live, preparing them for life in Britain today.
R.E. Subject Lead Team
The R.E. subject lead team have the important role of monitoring and developing the teaching and learning of R.E. in order for the pupils at our school to make the best possible progress. We are also responsible for auditing resources and CPD requirements to ensure that our resources and training are as up to date as possible.
The subject team aim to ensure that teachers make links with other subjects, where appropriate, to ensure that R.E is not taught as a stand-alone subject. In this way, pupils are able to immerse themselves in the topics covered and gain a deeper understanding (see cross-curricular links below).
We have identified three key areas that underpin pupil’s learning in R.E.:
Pupils are taught the knowledge, skills and understanding of these areas, when learning about Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jewish people. Alongside this, the principal aims for R.E. are taught and developed throughout each Key Stage and are detailed in the subject progression map.
The subject team attends network meetings to ensure we are aware of current updates and intiatives in R.E. This knowledge is then cascaded to the rest of the staff in school.
To ensure high standards are maintained, we monitor the teaching and learning on a termly basis, complete book scrutinies, learning walks and pupil interviews. We also monitor the termly assessments with feedback given to staff for areas of development.
We fully believe that with consistently high, quality teaching all pupils will be able to share their knowledge and understanding of religions and worldviews, recognising their local, national and global contexts. They will recognise an extended range of sources and subject specific vocabulary. They will be curious and ask increasingly challenging questions about religion, belief, values and human life. Pupils will learn to express their own ideas in response to the material they engage with, identifying relevant information, selecting examples and giving reasons to support their ideas and views.
The principal aim of RE is to engage pupils in systematic enquiry into significant human questions which religion and worldviews address, so that they can develop the understanding and skills needed to appreciate and appraise varied responses to these questions, as well as develop responses of their own.
The curriculum for RE aims to ensure that all pupils:
1. Know about and understand a range of religions and worldviews, so that they can:
2. Express ideas and insights about the nature, significance and impact of religions and worldviews, so that they can:
3. Gain and deploy the skills needed to engage seriously with religions and worldviews, so that they can:
When planning, teachers at Alexander First consider how their teaching contributes towards the principal aim of RE in the local area, and how they help pupils to achieve the threefold aim.
This agreed syllabus requires that all pupils learn from Christianity in each key stage. In addition, pupils will learn from the principal religions represented in the UK, in line with the law. These are Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Judaism. Furthermore, children from families where non-religious worldviews are held are represented in almost all of our classrooms. For example, all R.E. units begin with a concept such as forgiveness or belonging which can be understood from a Humanist perspective. These concepts are thought about in relation to the children's lives and lived experiences and then developed upon from the perspective of the religion being studied.
Religious traditions are to be studied in depth as follows:
The contribution of R.E. to teaching in other curriculum areas
All religions studied at Alexander First School have a host of stories linked to them so English is an integral part of R.E. teaching at our school. At EYFS and Key Stage 1 level, the majority of topics taught begin with learning about stories linked to particular religions. Children are asked to retell these stories either in written form or through the medium of dance or drama. Many religious festivals also have stories linked to them, so the children gain a deeper understanding of each religion through learning these stories.
The teaching of R.E. can contribute to children’s mathematical understanding in a variety of ways, In our school a variety of maths skills have been developed through R.E lessons. The use of timelines to depict historical Religious data has been used in Key Stage 2. Pattern and shape in R.E. are a reoccurring theme with the Tessellation in patterns in churches and mosques and the symmetry found on crosses. Measurement can be introduced when learning about David and Goliath and children in the EYFS and Key Stage 1 enjoy counting Noah’s animals in twos! Older children can work out the time difference between BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini), and younger children can practise their counting skills through a range of stories in the Bible.
Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural (SMSC) education
The R.E. curriculum forms an important part of our school’s spiritual, moral and social teaching.
At Alexander First School, we promote Spiritual development by experiencing wonder and joy through learning about and from stories, celebrations, rituals and different expressions of religion and worldviews. By considering questions about God and evaluating truth claims. We also promote spiritual development by exploring spiritual practices such as worship and prayer, and considering the impact of these on believers and any relevance to their own life –church visits and questions regarding these (Year groups visit local churches as part of their topics. The whole school visits the local church annually for Easter and Christmas services, where the children are active participants in the proceedings.)
We promote Moral development by exploring religious perspectives and responses to evil and suffering in the world. By exploring the qualities which are valued by a civilised society – thoughtfulness, honesty, respect for difference, independence and interdependence (Year groups look at how different faiths deal with these and other qualities).
We promote Social development by asking questions about the social impact of religion. By exploring similarities and differences between faiths and cultures. By engaging with text, artefacts and other sources from different cultures and religious backgrounds e.g. Year 1 look at parables from the Bible and Year 4 look at Places of Worship and visit a range of special buildings. By visiting different places of worship, asking questions and engaging with visitors of different faiths, the children at Alexander First School develop a sense of social justice.
Our teaching and learning styles in R.E. enable children to build on their own experiences and extend their knowledge and understanding of religious traditions. We use their experiences of religious festivals to develop their religious thinking and encourage children in carrying out research into religious topics. Children discuss religious and moral issues in various group situations, using computing and drama to explore learning further. We also take the opportunities that the teaching of RE provides to promote a positive attitude towards other people, respecting their right to hold different beliefs from their own and towards living in a society of diverse religions.
Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE), British Values (BV) and Computing
RE is a flagship subject for championing and promoting the teaching of thinking skills, British Values and has many links to PSHE. It provides opportunities for pupils to ask questions, seek answers and develop ideas in a quest to discover more about their own identity and that of others. Within their learning in RE, pupils develop specific attitudes that are open, reflective, and critical and a skill base which allows them to be curious, play with ideas, empathise, listen, imagine, question, make links and reason.
Information and communication technology enhances our teaching of R.E. wherever appropriate in all key stages. The children use ICT in a variety of ways such as word processing, finding information on the internet and presenting information via PowerPoint.
Geography goes hand-in-hand with many of the topics taught within R.E. It is fundamental that, when learning about different cultures and religion across the wider world, children have some understanding of the locality and origins of these cultures. Atlases are used to track the wide variety of journeys taken by key figures in history.
Art is a subject that links particularly well with R.E. The children at Alexander First School are encouraged to explore the ways in which religions express meaning through art, or study past cultures and see what kind of art they created and consider the way that the religion of those peoples may have inspired or informed their art. On any visit to a place of worship, the architecture, images and pictures will be of central importance. For example at All Saints church there are stained glass windows.
Educational visits and visitors
At Alexander First School, we place great importance on educational visits and visitors to enhance the R.E. curriculum. These visits provide rich opportunities for children and young people to learn about things that matter in the lives of local people and the wider world.
Assessment for learning
The learning outcomes in the RE Discovery syllabus support teachers at Alexander First School in assessing whether pupils are on track to meet end of key stage expectations.
Assessment requires teachers to know what individual pupils know and can do. The learning outcomes on each key question outline will help teachers to assess this, and to devise appropriate learning activities to enable pupils to secure their understanding and skills. At Alexander First School assessments are carried out in various forms as appropriate to the age of the pupils and nature of the topic studied. These include questioning and discussions during input, teacher observations during lessons and 'fix-it' opportunities throughout the unit of study to support addressing misconceptions and extend children's learning. Conferencing and end of unit reflections are used at the end of a unit. Additionally, pupils also have a unit overview tracker comprising of key vocabulary and success criteria which is checked by pupils and their teacher after every lesson to indicate understanding and monitor progress. We find this is a very valuable assessment tool for our Service pupils who often join mid-unit. We are able to quickly identify aspects of learning and knowledge missed by our newly arrived Service pupils and therefore put support in place to ensure they do not fall further behind.
In EYFS teacher judgements, Tapestry and observation sheets are used to assess the children against the Early Learning Goals.