Religious education enables children to investigate and reflect on some of the most fundamental questions asked by people. At Pear Tree Mead Academy we develop the children’s knowledge and understanding of the major world faiths, and we address fundamental questions concerning, for example, the meaning of life and the existence of a divine spirit. We enable children to develop a sound knowledge not only of Christianity but also of other world religions, especially those that are the main faiths of children within our school. Children reflect on what it means to have a faith and to develop their own spiritual knowledge and understanding. We help the children learn from religions as well as about religions.
The objectives of teaching religious education in our school are to help children:
- develop an awareness of spiritual and moral issues arising in their lives;
- develop knowledge and understanding of Christianity and other major world religions and value systems found in Britain;
- develop an understanding of what it means to be committed to a religious tradition;
- be able to reflect on their own experiences and to develop a personal response to the fundamental questions of life;
- develop an understanding of religious traditions and to appreciate the cultural differences in Britain today;
- develop investigative and research skills, and make reasoned judgements about religious issues;
- have respect for other people’s views, and celebrate the diversity in society.
Religious Education Curriculum
We plan our religious education curriculum in accordance with the Essex Agreed Syllabus for RE (Explore). We ensure that the topics studied in religious education build on prior learning. We offer opportunities for children of all abilities to develop their skills and knowledge in each unit, and we ensure that the progression planned into the scheme of work offers the children an increasing challenge as they move through the school.
We ensure that learning about religion (often referred to as Attainment Target 1) is integrated with learning from religion (often referred to as Attainment Target 2). Teachers ensure that pupils have opportunities to explore issues, questions and concepts related to their own and general human experience arising from the religious content being covered. RE is made relevant and meaningful to children, whether religious or not, and connects with aspects of their own and other people’s experience that may be termed ‘spiritual’.
Such aspects of experience include:
- the sense of mystery underlying existence
- feelings of love and connectedness with other people
- a sense of awe and wonder and beauty
- the search for meaning, purpose and fulfilment
- concerns about right and wrong and justice and fairness
- awareness of goodness
- awareness of suffering
- the big questions that we ask about life and death, including the question ‘Why?’
We ensure that the following aspects of experience are linked as appropriate with the religious subject-matter as it is taught:
- the self and being human [For example, when learning about Bar/Bat Mitzvah, pupils could reflect upon their own identities and sense of belonging; when exploring the Genesis 1 creation story, pupils could reflect on what the story says about what it means to be a human being]
- relationships and community [For example, when listening to stories such as the lost son, the good Samaritan or Rama and Sita, pupils could reflect upon human relationships; when learning about prayer in Islam, pupils could reflect on what it means to be part of a worldwide community of believers]
- the natural world [For example, when analysing the parable of the sower, pupils could reflect on the mystery of growth from the seed; when exploring ceremonies such as Christian baptism or Hindu puja, pupils could explore the meaning of symbols derived from the natural world, such as water, fire and light]
- right and wrong [For example, when learning about the significance of the Golden Rule for Humanists, pupils could apply the principle ‘do as you would be done by’ to a variety of situations; when learning about the importance of equality in Sikhism, pupils could reflect on continuing inequalities in our own society]
- big questions [For example, when learning about the Buddha’s life quest, pupils could consider the question ‘Is there a way to end suffering?’; when learning about the ten commandments or the two greatest commandments, pupils could answer the question ‘By what rules should we live our lives?’; when learning about reincarnation in Hinduism, pupils could reflect on the question ‘What happens to us after we die?’
Here are the over views for the KS1 and KS2 curriculum at PTM
Teaching and Learning Styles
We base our teaching and learning style in RE on the key principle that good teaching in RE allows children both to learn about religious traditions and to reflect on what the religious ideas and concepts mean to them. Our teaching enables children to extend their own sense of values, and promotes their spiritual growth and development. We encourage children to think about their own views and values in relation to the themes and topics studied in the RE curriculum.
Our teaching and learning styles in RE enable children to build on their own experiences and to extend their knowledge and understanding of religious traditions. We use their experiences at religious festivals such as Easter, Diwali, Passover etc. to develop their religious thinking. We work closely with our local church Saint Stephens. We organise visits to local places of worship, and invite representatives of local religious groups to come into school and talk to the children.
Children carry out research into religious topics. They study particular religious faiths and also compare the religious views of different faith groups on topics such as rites of passage or festivals. Children investigate religious and moral issues either individually or in groups.
We recognise the fact that all classes in our school have children of widely differing abilities, 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 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 individuals or groups of children.
The Early Years Foundation Stage
We teach religious education to all children in the school, including those in the Reception class.
In Reception classes, religious education is an integral part of the topic work covered during the year. As the Reception class is part of the Early Years Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum, we relate the religious education aspects of the children’s work to the objectives set out in the Early Learning Goals which underpin the curriculum planning for children aged three to five.
Assessment of RE
Children demonstrate their ability in RE through a variety of different ways. Younger children might, for example, act out a famous story from the Bible, whilst older pupils might produce a PowerPoint presentation based on their investigation of sacred texts. Teachers will assess children’s work in religious education by making informal judgements as we observe them during lessons. On completion of a piece of work, the teacher assesses the work and gives the child written or verbal feedback to help guide progress. Children are encouraged to make judgements about how they might improve their work in the future.
MME is used on a half termly basis to assess whether children are below expected, at expected or above expected in their learning.
RE and Inclusion
At our school we teach religious education to all children, whatever their ability and individual needs. Religious education forms part of the school’s curriculum policy to provide a broad and balanced education to all children. Through our religious education teaching we provide learning opportunities that enable all pupils to make good progress. We strive hard to meet the needs of those pupils with special educational needs, those with disabilities, those with special gifts and talents, and those learning English as an additional language, and we take all reasonable steps to achieve this. For further details see separate policies: Special Educational Needs; Disability Non-Discrimination and Access; Exceptionally Able; English as an Additional Language (EAL).
We enable all pupils to have access to the full range of activities involved in religious education. Where children are to participate in activities outside the classroom (a visit to a Sikh temple, for example, that involves a journey) we carry out a risk assessment prior to the activity, to ensure that the activity is safe and appropriate for all pupils.
Contribution of RE to the teaching in other curriculum areas
Religious education contributes significantly to the teaching of English in our school by actively promoting the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Some of the texts that we use in the Literacy have religious themes or content, which encourages discussion, and this is RE’s way of promoting the skills of speaking and listening. We also encourage the children to write letters and record information, in order to develop their writing ability.
Personal, social and health education (PSHE) and citizenship
Through our religious education lessons we teach the children about the values and moral beliefs that underpin individual choices of behaviour. So, for example, we contribute to the discussion of topics such as smoking, drugs and health education. We also promote the values and attitudes required for citizenship in a democracy by teaching respect for others and the need for personal responsibility. In general, by promoting tolerance and understanding of other people, we enable children to appreciate what it means to be positive members of our pluralistic society.
Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
Through religious education in our school we provide opportunities for spiritual development. Children consider and respond to questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life. We help them to recognise the difference between right and wrong, through the study of moral and ethical questions. We enhance their social development by helping them to build a sense of identity in a multicultural society. Children explore issues of religious faith and values and, in so doing, they develop their knowledge and understanding of the cultural context of their own lives.
Help from Home
Much can be done at home by parents in order to help children further develop the skills needed to be successful in this area of the curriculum. Encouraging children to be reflective on events that happen in their lives as well as think about special places/people they encounter will help children to start to develop some sort of spiritual understanding. Modelling tolerance of others and respect for the views of others will also have a hugely positive effect on the spiritual and social development of children.