Our R.E. Curriculum
Religious education is as important as ever before. The many and varied beliefs that cohabitate our communities require our children to have a deeper knowledge and understanding, and tolerance of those of other beliefs and those of none.
Religious education provides a safe environment and a shared language of understanding for our children to question, to contemplate and to consider a range of different views and beliefs. It challenges our children to learn from the experiences of people from different religions and develop their own sense of identity. It provides children with the tools needed to consider their own beliefs, where they came from and how they will help them to prepare for the uncertainties of adult life.
Religious Education (RE) must be provided for all registered pupils in maintained schools, including those in Reception classes.
RE is a component of the basic curriculum, to be taught alongside the National Curriculum in all maintained schools. In all maintained schools, other than voluntary aided schools with a religious character, it must be taught according to a locally Agreed Syllabus, which is the statutory order
The Education Act 1996 states that an Agreed Syllabus must reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, whilst taking account of the teachings and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain. It must be non-denominational and must not be designed to convert children or to urge a particular religion or religious belief on children. Teaching about denominations is not prohibited.
The Agreed Syllabus sets out what children should be taught. It provides a secure framework from which North Tyneside schools can develop and implement high quality Religious Education curriculum models. It also enhances the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all pupils, offering strong continuity and progression within and between key stages. Thus, providing a vehicle for the promotion of tolerance and understanding within our communities.
RE contributes dynamically to children's education in schools by provoking 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. In RE children learn about religious and non-religious worldviews in order to discover, explore and consider different answers to these questions. They learn to interpret, analyse, evaluate and critically respond to the claims that religious and non-religious worldviews make. Children learn to express their insights and to agree or disagree respectfully. Teaching therefore should equip children with knowledge and understanding of what is meant by the term’s ‘religion’ and ‘worldview’ as well as systematic knowledge and understanding of a range of religious and non-religious worldviews.
RE offers opportunities for personal reflection and children's spiritual, moral, social and cultural development as it encourages children to examine the significance of their learning in relation to themselves and others. It enables children to explore their own beliefs (whether they are religious or not), ideas, feelings, experiences and values in the light of what they learn. RE encourages empathy and respect. It enables children to develop their own sense of identity and belonging. It also promotes respect for the right of others to hold different beliefs, values and ideas.
RE should develop in children an aptitude for dialogue so that they can participate positively in our society with its diverse religious and non-religious worldviews. RE enables children to have a nuanced and informed understanding of political, social and moral issues that they will need to face as they grow up in an increasingly globalised world. It helps children deal positively with controversial issues, to manage strongly held differences of belief and to challenge stereotypes and prejudice. As such RE is central to good local, national and global citizenship. It makes a significant contribution to the active promotion of mutual respect and tolerance of others faiths and beliefs, a fundamental British value. It prepares children for life in modern Britain.
Teaching in RE must promote therefore openness and respect for others.
The Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education aims to ensure that children:
- develop deepening knowledge and understanding about a range of religious and non-religious worldviews so that they can: - describe and explain beliefs and theological concepts
- describe and explain ways in which beliefs are expressed
- know and understand the significance and impact of beliefs and practices on individuals, communities and societies
- connect these together into a coherent framework of beliefs and practices
- gain and deploy deepening understanding of specialist vocabulary and term
- know and understand about religious diversity within the region, as well as nationally and globally
- know and understand how religion can be defined and what is meant by the term ‘religious and non-religious worldviews'
- gain and deploy skills that enable critical thinking and enquiry in relation to the material they study
- reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, experiences, ideas, values and beliefs
Children will study Christianity at each of the key stages (KS1 to KS4). At least one of the other five principal religions will also be taught at one of these key stages. This is a requirement of this Agreed Syllabus and ensures that each of the principal religions are studied in a systematic way at least once during a child’s education. The required ‘core’ religions to be studied at each key stage are:
Key Stage 1: Christianity, Buddhism
Key Stage 2: Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, (plus a small special study of Islam)
At Early Years Foundation Stage, schools should draw on Christianity plus aspects of the other principal religions as appropriate.
The Agreed Syllabus is designed to ensure that children learn about a range of religious and non-religious worldviews throughout their school life.
The word ‘worldview’4 refers to the philosophy of life or approach to life which structures how an individual understands truth and the nature of reality, the meaning and purpose of life and their own place in the world. A person’s worldview is likely to influence and be influenced by their beliefs, values, behaviours, experiences, identities and commitments.
This Agreed Syllabus uses the word ‘worldview’ to explore:
- institutional systems of making meaning and structuring how one sees the world and themselves in it. These include religions such as Christianity and Islam as well as non-religious worldviews such as Humanism.
- The individual process of making sense of life and making meaning of one’s own feelings, values and experiences.
The term ‘religious and non-religious worldview’ is intended to be inclusive and is used in the broadest sense to cover traditional and non-traditional religions and belief systems, secular and atheistic movements and perspectives and non-standard forms of religious and spiritual life which enable people to make sense of their lives and their experiences.
Early Years Foundation Stage
During the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), RE may be taught as part of whole class topics or themes. The Agreed Syllabus uses the following themes to explore religion: Special, Belonging. Children could explore these ideas through topics such as special times, special objects, special people, special books, how we show belonging, the natural world, new life, new places, story, provide excellent opportunities for RE foundation work in Nursery and Reception and can be successfully built on at Key Stage 1.
Examples for exploration in RE:
- Let’s find out about the Christmas story
- Let’s find out about Raksha Bandhan
Key Stage 1
Children are taught about:
• Christianity - introduction to beliefs and practices and their impact.
Example of Unit Question - How do Christians celebrate Easter?
• Buddhism – introduction to some beliefs and practices and their impact.
Example of Unit Question - How do Buddhists worship?
• Religious diversity - introduction to the diverse religious and non-religious landscape in the local area (including differing denominations).
Example of Unit Question - What can we find out about our local faith communities?
Key Stage 2
Children must be taught about:
• Christianity – beliefs and practices across the denominations and the impact of these for individuals and communities.
Examples of Unit Question
- Why are Good Friday and Easter Sunday the most important days for Christians?
- So, what do we now know about Christianity? (Statutory Bridging Unit)
• Hinduism – some beliefs and practices and the impact of these for individuals and communities
Example of Unit Question - What do Hindus believe?
• Judaism – some beliefs and practices and the impact of these for individuals and communities
Example of Unit Question - Why do Jewish people go to the synagogue?
• religious diversity - the diverse religious and non-religious landscape across the region, including a special study of a local Muslim community
Examples of Unit Questions
- What can we find out about diversity in our region?
- What can we find out about a local Muslim community?
• similarities and differences within and between religious and non-religious worldviews through at least one thematic study e.g. about ritual, the environment, care for others
Examples of Unit Questions
- How do people show care for others?
- Why do people use ritual in their lives?
For more detail, see Key Stage 2 section and Key Stage 2 Programmes of Study.
THE THREE ELEMENTS OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Children will build religious literacy by:
• developing knowledge and understanding of religious and non-religious worldviews
• becoming increasingly able to respond to religious and non-religious worldviews in an informed and insightful way
• reflecting on their own ideas and the ideas of others.
In the Agreed Syllabus these are called the three elements of RE and cover the aims of RE:
• Knowledge and Understanding
• Critical Thinking
• Personal Reflection
Expectations in Knowledge and Understanding by the end of Year 2:
have simple knowledge of some of the beliefs, teaching/stories and practices of specific religions studied, using simple technical vocabulary
have simple knowledge of why these beliefs and practices may be important to people
have simple knowledge of some of the similarities and differences between and within the religious and non-religious worldviews they learn about.
Expectations in Knowledge and Understanding by the end of Year 4:
be able to describe some of the beliefs, teachings and expressions of beliefs within the religions studied and how these have an impact for individuals and communities
begin to form a framework of connections between these concepts by making some links between them
identify some patterns between or within religions (a range of religious and non-religious worldviews) by comparing similarities and differences
Expectations in Critical Thinking by the end of Year 2:
In response to the material they learn about, children can raise questions, express their opinions and back them up with simple reasons
Expectations in Critical Thinking by the end of Year 4:
In response to the material they learn about, children can raise questions, express their opinions and support these with plausible reasons.
They recognise that others may think differently and have different opinions.