Reaching for the Stars with Aspiration and Hope
The importance of RE in Primary Education
The DfE, 2010 (Religious Education in English Schools) clearly establishes that religion and beliefs inform our values and are reflected in what we say and how we behave, explaining that:
RE is an important subject in itself, developing an individual’s knowledge and understanding of the religions and beliefs which form part of contemporary society. Religious education provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong, and what it means to be human. It can develop pupils’ knowledge and understanding of Christianity, of other principal religions, other religious traditions and worldviews that offer answers to questions such as these. RE also contributes to pupils’ personal development and well-being and to community cohesion by promoting mutual respect and tolerance in a diverse society. RE can also make important contributions to other parts of the school curriculum such as citizenship, personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE education), the humanities, education for sustainable development and others. It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development, deepening the understanding of the significance of religion in the lives of others – individually, communally and cross-culturally.
As a Church of England school we endorse and reflect this in our practice on a daily basis, through Collective Worship, RE lessons and as a thread across the curriculum, e.g. you will often see RE content being linked to English comprehension or extended writing.
We plan and teach using the Gloucestershire Agreed Syllabus for RE, available at: https://www.gloucester.anglican.org/education/primary-religious-education/. They set out that the principal aim of religious education is to explore what people believe and what difference this makes to how they live, so that pupils can gain the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to handle questions raised by religion and belief, reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living.
This is captured well in this representation, which shows the connections Gloucestershire Schools forge to create the links between self, others and world.
Alongside this, we have been trained to use the Understanding Christianity Resources, to celebrate and support our identity as a Church of England school. The Understanding Christianity Project (available at: http://www.understandingchristianity.org.uk/) offers a comprehensive approach to teaching and learning, including:
- a theological and conceptual basis, taking seriously Christian accounts of the ‘big story’ of salvation and the relationship of the reader/pupil to these texts
- a clear outline of core knowledge ‘building blocks’ in relation to Christianity, to enable teachers to see what pupils should know, understand and be able to do
- support for teachers who have little or no theological training, through straightforward essential background information for the teacher about Christian concepts, theology and practice;
- a teaching and learning approach to enable pupils to move from an understanding of the biblical text and how to handle it, to an understanding of what this means for Christians within the Church and in Christian living, including opportunities for pupils to examine and evaluate connections between these ideas and the wider world
- flexible opportunities for assessment: these use both knowledge building blocks (suitable for ‘mastery’ models of assessment) and end of phase/key stage outcomes (which incorporate knowledge and the skills with which to handle, integrate and apply this knowledge). These allow pupils to make progress from surface learning to deeper learning at all ages.
As a part of our whole school cohesion in the curriculum we adopt an enquiry focus each term, e.g. being theologians, historians, geographers, artists, musicians, linguists... We believe that this creates better connectivity between the subjects, making learning more relevant to the children, so that they are inspired to 'reach for the stars' as a school team and personally.
Our RE Policy explains further our approach to the teaching of RE across the school.