At Hareside Primary School, we believe that the teaching of Religious Education is vital for the development of each child as an individual. Along with supporting our school values, RE contributes to our children’s development; further empowering them to become tolerant, understanding citizens, who live out the British Values and who are spiritually, morally, socially and culturally literate. RE enables children to understand the world around them and prepares them for life in our multi-faith, multicultural society. It encourages them to develop their sense of identity and belonging and enables them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society and global community.
Through RE, we aim to develop a sound knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other religious traditions and world views whilst enabling children to reflect on what it means to have a faith and to develop their own spiritual knowledge and understanding.
Throughout their time at Hareside, we develop children who are inquisitive by encouraging them to ask and answer questions about the world, developing their understanding and awareness of the beliefs, values and traditions of other individuals, societies, communities and cultures which provides an opportunity to celebrate and foster awareness of the differences within our school and the wider world.
We offer a structured and safe space for reflection, discussion, dialogue and debate where children feel safe to learn new things and share their beliefs with others in an accepting environment.
The curriculum for RE aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Know about and understand a range of religions and worldviews, so that they can:
- describe, explain and analyse beliefs and practices, recognising the diversity which exists within and between communities and amongst individuals;
- identify, investigate and respond to questions posed, and responses offered by some of the sources of wisdom* found in religions and worldviews;
- appreciate and appraise the nature, significance and impact of different ways of life and ways of expressing meaning.
- Express ideas and insights about the nature, significance and impact of religions and worldviews, so that they can:
- explain reasonably 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, including ethical issues;
- appreciate and appraise varied dimensions of religion or a worldview.
- Gain and deploy the skills needed to engage seriously with religions and worldviews, so that they can:
- find out about and investigate key concepts and questions of belonging, meaning, purpose and truth, responding creatively;
- enquire into what enables different individuals and communities to live together respectfully for the wellbeing of all;
- articulate beliefs, values and commitments clearly in order to explain why they may be important in their own and other people’s lives.
The provision of Religious Education by schools for all pupils (except where withdrawn by parents) is a legal requirement of the Education Act (1996).
During their time at Hareside Primary School, the children study the religions Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism alongside other world views which are embedded throughout. Our RE curriculum is successfully adapted, designed and developed for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities by the teacher as necessary. It is a curriculum that is broad, balanced and inclusive for all pupils.
Our RE curriculum is designed to help pupils encounter core concepts in religions and beliefs in a coherent way, developing their understanding and their ability to hold balanced and informed conversations about religions and beliefs. It is taught in accordance with the Northumberland Agreed Syllabus supported by Discovery RE, RE Today and the Understanding Christianity materials. The Christianity part of our curriculum is underpinned by three core elements, which are woven together to provide breadth and balance within teaching and learning about religions and beliefs. Teaching and learning in the classroom encompass all three of the following elements:
- Making sense of the text – developing skills of reading and interpretation; understanding how Christians interpret, handle and use biblical texts; making sense of the meanings of texts for Christians.
- Understanding the impact – examining ways in which Christians respond to biblical texts and teachings, and how they put their beliefs into action in diverse ways within the Christian community and in the world.
- Making connections – evaluating, reflecting on and connecting the texts and concepts studied, and discerning possible connections between these and pupils’ own lives and ways of understanding the world.
Each unit begins with a ‘way in’ and then offers teaching and learning ideas for each element. The teacher chooses how to weave together the elements, from making sense of the text, through looking at the impact on the world of the Christian, and helping to make connections with the world of the pupil, in order to achieve the outcomes.
The approach is not just getting pupils to learn what Christians think. Instead, it is about developing skills to help them ‘think theologically’ alongside embedding knowledge about the Bible, Christian belief and practice. It also shows that these three elements do not represent rigid, distinct steps, but that pupils can ‘make connections’ whilst ‘making sense of the text’, for example. Our children also explore the significant theological concepts within Christianity as part of developing their wider religious, theological and cultural literacy.
The rest of our RE curriculum brings together learning about and from religion, questioning and spiritual development in a comprehensive scheme of learning. Each enquiry starts from the children’s own life experiences using these as a bridge into the investigation of the religion being studied. Learning is assessed and children have the opportunity to express their own thoughts and beliefs and empathise with believers of that religion or belief position. We focus on critical thinking skills, on personal reflection into the child’s own thoughts and feelings, on growing subject knowledge and nurturing spiritual development.
The teaching of RE makes links with other curriculum areas, particularly PSHE and embeds Hareside Primary School and British Values which enables children to participate positively within an ever-changing society and world. These values are also taught on their own and through other areas of the curriculum, including assemblies.
Religious Education can make an active contribution to all six areas of learning in the Foundation Stage. From as early as the EYFS, RE gives our children valuable insights into the diverse beliefs and cultures of people today. It makes a particularly important contribution to Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) and Understanding of the world (UW) which are crucial to the development and progress of all pupils at this stage. The Northumberland agreed syllabus states that children should learn about aspects of Christianity and other religions relevant to children at the school. In Reception, RE is integrated within People and Communities. The the children are introduced to Christianity and Hinduism and are taught the necessary skills to prepare them for the RE curriculum in Year 1. Throughout their time in the Foundation Stage, they become familiar with religions and cultures through exploring special people, books, times/festivals, places and objects. They recognise that people have different beliefs and celebrate special times in different ways, for example, Harvest, Diwali, Christmas, Chinese New Year and Easter. Our children listen to and talk about stories, and reflect upon their own feelings and experiences. They learn about the differences and similarities between different religions and communities within the country and, through drawing on knowledge from various texts, are encouraged to explain some similarities and differences between life in the UK and other countries. They learn about traditions, beliefs and world views outside of their own experiences through exploring other cultures and practices in the wider world. Our children are encouraged to develop respect for their own needs, views, cultures and beliefs, and those of others.
Key Stage 1 and 2
At Hareside Primary, we ensure that the topics studied in religious education are planned in sufficient depth and sequenced so that pupils develop secure long-term understanding, building upon prior learning. We offer opportunities for children of all abilities to develop their skills and knowledge in each unit, and ensure that the planned progression built into the scheme of work offers the children an increasing challenge as they move through the school.
Our children explore and respond to some of the big questions about religion and appreciate the way that religious beliefs shape life and our behaviour. They develop the ability to make reasoned and informed judgements about religious and moral issues and enhance their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Experiences beyond the classroom are offered in order to enhance learning, deepen understanding and embed learning. Knowledge Organisers are being developed for each unit of work they undertake to outline the key knowledge and vocabulary they are learning about. RE is timetabled as a separate subject for one hour per week or its equivalent (e.g. delivered in a week block).
In Key Stage 1, the children learn about Christianity, Judaism and Islam, studying aspects of these religions through enquiry questions such as “Who made the world?” and “Does celebrating Hanukah make Jewish children feel close to God?” They develop an awareness of religious beliefs and practices and the effects these have upon lifestyles. They learn from and reflect upon their own experiences and those of others and are encouraged to think about aspects of their own lives, which are important to them and begin to consider some ultimate questions.
In Key Stage 2, the children are introduced to Sikhism and continue to build on the core concepts of Christianity right up until the end of Year 6. They revisit the religions of Hinduism, Judaism and Islam and develop their knowledge, skills and understanding through deeper enquiry surrounding questions such as “Is forgiveness always possible for Christians?” and “Does belief in Akhirah (life after death) help Muslims lead good lives?” They consider the impact of beliefs and practices in greater detail and continue to build upon and extend their prior learning as they move through the units.
We recognise the fact that all classes in our school have children of widely differing abilities, and so we provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this in a variety of ways, for example, by:
- Setting common tasks which are open-ended and can have a variety of responses;
- Setting tasks of increasing difficulty (we do not expect all children to complete all tasks);
- Grouping the children by ability in the room and setting different tasks for each ability group;
- Providing resources of different complexity, adapted to the ability of the child;
- Using classroom assistants to support the work of the individuals or groups of children.
- Providing word banks, writing frames, use of computers and visual aids as well as peer support. TA/teacher support, including 1:1 support for those children who may require this.
As part of each enquiry, our schemes have built-in assessment. These tasks provide formal opportunities for teacher assessment of the children’s knowledge of that religion, depth of critical thinking, and ability to answer the enquiry question. This stand-alone evidence is used in conjunction with other evidence such as records of discussions and annotations from other lessons within the enquiry to assist the teacher in reaching a best-fit ‘level’ (Emerging, Developing, Secure or Greater Depth). Teacher assessments are an overall judgement based not only on written responses to the focus question, but also observations on how children contribute in class, the confidence and willingness with which they answer questions and share their own ideas, their use of appropriate vocabulary and their recall of appropriate links from previous learning.
Each enquiry has assessment levels and exemplars based on the current nationally agreed levels.
We aim to develop our plan to visit to places of worship, and visitors representing different religions to provide a variety of first-hand experiences for our children, to spark their interest and relate new learning to their own experience. We hope to inspire and develop a love of RE and enquiry based approach across all key stages starting in Early Years.
The impact of our RE curriculum can be found in children’s written work and the quality of discussions that they have both in class and pupil voice interviews.
At the end of their education at Hareside Primary School, it is our intent that all pupils are religiously literate and are able to:
- Use the skills and knowledge to be able not only to express their views and beliefs but to be able to respect and understand the views of other people locally and worldwide.
- Develop a religious vocabulary and give a theologically informed and thoughtful account of Christianity as a living and diverse faith.
- Show an informed and respectful attitude to religions and non-religious worldviews in their search for God and meaning.
- Engage in meaningful and informed dialogue with those of other faiths and none.
- Reflect on questions of meaning, offering their own thoughtful and informed insights into religious and secular world-views
- Leave the school with a sense of belonging to a tightly knit community where they have the confidence and skills to make decisions, self-evaluate, make connections and become lifelong learners.
Our RE Curriculum