‘All children need to acquire core knowledge and understanding of the beliefs and practices of the religions and worldviews which not only shape their history and culture but which guide their own development. The modern world needs young people who are sufficiently confident in their own beliefs and values that they can respect the religious and cultural differences of others and contribute to a cohesive and compassionate society’ - Michael Gove
Our Christian vision and ethos is at the heart of our Religious Education (RE) curriculum and as such, our intent for RE is to provide our pupils with challenging and thought-provoking questions about the meaning and purpose of life. We use a windows, mirrors and doors approach to the teaching of RE and ensure the curriculum develops pupils’ knowledge and understanding of Christianity amongst other religions and religious traditions. RE at St.John’s enables pupils to build their sense of identity and belonging, which helps them flourish within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society. ‘It is about awe and wonder, asking questions, inspiration and being aware of something ‘bigger’ outside ourselves. ‘(school definition of spirituality) As a result, they will become independent and responsible members of a society who understand and explore big questions about life, to find out what people believe and what difference this makes to how they live, so that they can make sense of religion, reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living. It teaches pupils to develop respect for others, including people with different faiths and beliefs and helps to challenge prejudice.
RE at St.John’s prompts pupils to consider their responsibilities to themselves and to others and to explore how they might contribute to their communities and to the wider society. It encourages empathy, generosity and compassion. Our RE curriculum will:
promote our provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development for all pupils, regardless of ability, gender, race or religion.
enable pupils to apply an understanding of Christianity to make reasoned and informed responses to life issues and moral choices.
develop pupils' knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith and the Anglican tradition through a study of: Creation, Prayer and Worship, the Life and Teachings of Jesus, Living out the Faith and Christian Festivals.
support pupil's personal quest for meaning, purpose and value.
develop pupils' knowledge and understanding of other principal religions.
enable pupils to develop sensitivity and respect towards all people with different beliefs and life-styles.
enable pupils to reflect on and communicate with others issues of truth, belief and faith.
make pupils aware of the nature, role and influence of religion in the world.
Central to learning in RE is the process of building bridges between the children’s own lives and the religious content they are exploring - Religious Education must be relevant to their own lives and engage them in meaningful learning that they can apply to life. In order to deliver the intent, the school uses the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education Scheme of Work alongside the ’Understanding Christianity’ resource. Each unit is based around a ‘Big Question’ which focuses on a key theme or faith. Within each ‘question’ the children have the opportunity to explore two aspects:
Learning about Religion: This includes enquiry into, and investigation of, the nature of religion. It focuses on (i) beliefs, teachings and sources, (ii) practices and ways of life and (iii) forms of expression. It includes the skills of interpretation, analysis and explanation. Pupils learn to communicate their knowledge and understanding using specialist vocabulary. It includes identifying and developing an understanding of ultimate questions and ethical issues.
Learning from Religion: This is concerned with developing pupils’ reflection on, and response to, their own experiences and learning about religion. It develops pupils’ skills of application, interpretation and evaluation of what they learn about religion, particularly questions of (i) identity and belonging, (ii) meaning, purpose, truth and (iii) values and commitments, and communicating their responses.
Religious Education Theme Days
To supplement Religious Education lessons, we set aside whole days when we focus on a theme linked to our RE teaching or to particular festivals. These give us the opportunity to explore religious ideas, enabling a more creative approach and giving more time to reflect. For example, Easter theme days have given children opportunities to explore the Easter story, the crucifixion and resurrection. At Christmas, themes such as incarnation, peace and The Holy Trinity are a focus and these are explored in an age appropriate way.
Religious Education and SEND
RE is an important part of our curriculum, as we foster a greater self-awareness along with a growing awareness of others and the beliefs and faiths that are held by others. At St John’s we recognise that many children with SEND can be particularly sensitive and are often able to demonstrate thoughtful responses and understanding of the issues explored in RE lessons. All children, including those with SEND often express their learning in RE through discussion with others, as well as through group or creative activities in class. Staff use their knowledge of their children to ensure that all children are able to contribute their views and participate in RE lessons.
The impact of our RE curriculum will be that our pupils will:
- be confident to articulate their personal beliefs, ideas, values and experiences while respecting the right of others to have different views, values and ways of life.
- be reflective learners with a strong understanding of Christian values, beliefs, stories and practices.
- develop their own personal sense of understanding and belonging.
- demonstrate a respect and tolerance of other faiths, accepting and respecting the diversity of the wider world.