Religious Education & Philosophy
Our Key RE Principles:
- Developing moral values
- Expressing thoughts and beliefs
Children’s understanding is underpinned by our key principles. Studying RE at Whitmore Park will enable children to develop their own moral code and to understand the morals of others. Children will learn to respect others’ beliefs and their origins and how these form part of peoples’ identity. Children will be encouraged to think about fundamental questions and will learn how different religious and non-religious organisations have attempted to explain these. Expressing thoughts and beliefs in a sensitive, respectful manner will also be a skill child will learn to apply when discussing their response to life’s ‘big questions’.
By the time children leave our school they will:
- Understand the beliefs of others, including those with no faith.
- Understand people of different, or no faith, can have common beliefs and respect the beliefs of others whilst confidently expressing their own beliefs.
- Be curious about life’s ‘big questions’ and be able to express their understanding of them.
Religious Education Intent
At Whitmore Park, teachers use the scheme of work taken from the Coventry and Warwickshire’s Locally Agreed Syllabus to guide them to plan RE lessons for our pupils. We believe that our RE curriculum is an essential part of preparing our pupils for life in a diverse, multi-religious Britain. During their time at our school, our children learn about the six major world religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism, as well as the beliefs and opinions of people with non-religious views. Exploring different faiths helps our pupils to understand one another and to take their place within a diverse multi-religious society. In learning from religion, they are able to make informed choices about how they want to live their lives whilst also understanding more about the faith of other people they meet. Our RE curriculum helps children to understand and develop the British values of tolerance and respect. It helps to take away prejudice and stereotypes and helps our children to become thoughtful members of society. Through teaching a quality RE curriculum, our pupils will learn to respect others’ beliefs and make sense of their own place within the world. Exploring other people’s beliefs and choices, helps to build curiosity and allows pupils to develop their own beliefs. This allows them to think about choices they make in their life on a deeper level. Our RE curriculum is essential for cultural capital and promotes spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and allows pupils to develop their own identity. RE gives the children chances to develop and share their own opinions about world religions which are based on accurate information.
RE lessons should allow opportunities to develop pupil’s speaking and listening skills, allowing them to have the opportunity to articulate what they believe. Our curriculum is structured so that pupils are challenged to think rigorously and creatively, to make informed judgements and to understand that it is acceptable to have doubts. In the process, they can examine and reflect upon a range of key questions about spirituality and identity, morality, values and commitments. RE is important to help pupils to become literate and articulate about religions and beliefs. Teachers should help to develop our pupil’s ability to agree and disagree respectfully. We want to equip our children for their responsibilities and experiences of later life and understand more about the faith of other people they meet throughout their life.
Our RE curriculum teaches children knowledge about different religions but it is also essential to us that the children understand that there is diversity within religions and traditions can differ. We move from the generalised ideas of religious beliefs to the complex, allowing pupils to understand that religions can be understood differently. The children will explore lived experiences of religious people and groups instead of solely learning knowledge. They will begin to understand how personal interpretation of religions can vary. We allow pupils to encounter broad and diverse examples of religion and world views, exploring diversity across places, time and how individual beliefs can differ within the same religion. We also make links between religions and explore similarities and differences between religious beliefs, traditions and rituals.
At Whitmore Park, we believe our curriculum should reflect the diversity of our community. We have, therefore, planned additional units on Sikhism and have also developed units for children to compare and contrast Christian and Muslim beliefs; Hindu and Sikh beliefs. These units will teach children about how different faiths have common beliefs and values, whilst being respectful of differing points of view. Our aim is to make RE engaging, purposeful and relevant to the children. Our intention is for the children to understand why it is important to learn about other’s beliefs. After the children have learnt about religious beliefs and practises, they will have the opportunity to apply their learning and provide memorable experiences. This may be through completing a project or visiting a place of worship. Children from years 1-6 will have the opportunity to participate in a visit to a local place of worship to enhance their understanding of how religions are practised locally. We believe that learning about religious beliefs and traditions prior to visits prepares children so they understand the significance of what they see and experience. Pre-teaching must be done to teach children how to behave appropriately in places of worship and it’s important that children know what they are looking for during the visit so trips are purposeful and valuable.
We form a foundation for RE in Early Years. In Nursery and Reception, the children learn about some religious celebrations including; Diwali, Eid, Easter and Christmas. Teachers ensure that children are introduced to a wide range of characters in stories from a variety of cultures and the children are taught to recognise that people have different beliefs and celebrate special times in different ways. The children are also provided with resources such as dressing-up clothes and small world figures from different cultures for them to explore.
We teach RE through discrete lessons and RE days in years 1-6 so that the learning has a clear focus and the children have time to build on knowledge, understanding and skills. Having discrete RE lessons helps to ensure sufficient time is allocated to RE and that the subject matter can be revisited frequently, allowing learning to remain in our pupils’ long-term memory. Our long-term curriculum overview for years 1-6 identifies which units each year group explore and shows when the different units are taught across the academic year. Our yearly overview is carefully planned so that the units progress through the years. Many units build upon prior learning to enable the children to become confident, curious and challenging in their outlook on worldviews and beliefs.
Our Medium-Term Plans/ Unit Overviews are taken from The Coventry and Warwickshire Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education. These guide teachers from years 1-6 to plan their lessons, however teachers consider which subject specific knowledge is appropriate for their year group. Teacher’s within each year group plan suitable activities to teach the Learning Outcomes within each unit. Each unit has suggested learning ideas which teachers can use for lesson ideas. Each lesson is individually planned out by teachers so there is a clear outcome. This ensures that all of the learning outcomes are explored throughout each unit. Teachers aim to deepen their pupils understanding across a wide range of religions and beliefs. They need to include the lived experiences of different people and encourage the children to consider how people’s beliefs affect the choices they make in life. Teachers must include opportunities for the children to critically reflect on their own religious, spiritual and philosophical convictions. RE encourages higher-order thinking and teachers must allow our children to explore the world in a way that is meaningful to them.
To build curiosity, we start each topic with a ‘Key Question’ which the children then explore in different ways. Teachers should think of ways to make RE learning relatable and plan fun learning experiences to make RE memorable. Teachers should consider if there are opportunities for the children to engage in real life tasks, for example, they could have a real audience to show their learning to or have someone to send their work to. Teachers should engage the children by exploring religions and cultures through a variety of approaches, including different multi- sensory approaches. For example, through stories, dance, drama, music or preparing an art exhibition and explaining their art work to others. Teachers should also consider if there are any cross-curricular learning opportunities. Some RE units link to other areas of the curriculum. For example, in Year 5, the children explore the question ‘What is the impact of prejudice?’ which links to their WW2 Humanities topic. This helps the children to understand the importance of learning about different religions and helps to develop the children’s respect and tolerance for others beliefs.
We are aware that religion is a complex area to explore and it is not possible for the children to learn everything about the religions they are exploring. Teachers should acknowledge that the children should understand what is being taught to them and not just learn facts, therefore they should teach less knowledge on a deeper level. Teachers should ensure that there are many chances to recall knowledge different ways throughout units to help learning go into pupil’s long-term memory and to help with teacher’s formative and summative assessment. The children have chance to revisit retrieve key knowledge and themes within each unit and across different topics. We build subject specific vocabulary through throughout the lessons. We try to make vocabulary relevant through the use of stories and seeing people use the vocabulary in context. Our RE curriculum allows opportunities for pupils to revisit religions through the pupil’s time at school. In Key Stage 1, our pupils learning is focused around the knowledge of religious beliefs and practises and as the children move through the school, their learning explores the connections between religions. Therefore, the children have repeated opportunities to revisit and engage in key learning. This approach gives the children the skills they need to progress and develop and builds their specialist vocabulary though the years.
In addition to RE lessons, religious celebrations are shared in school and class assemblies at appropriate times. This is a chance for the children to revisit learning from previous RE days and helps them to understand celebrations that some people celebrate. Teaching the children about different religions and non-religious beliefs will help them to understand and respect others in the world around them. Each year, children will have the opportunity to visit a different place of worship either in person or virtually. We aim for the children to visit a place of worship connected to all of the World’s major religions by the time they leave Whitmore Park. Our pupils will have the chance to speak to people from different religious groups and ask them questions about their faith. The RE leader and teachers will have a record of people who are able to support the RE at our school.
Teachers should be clear about what their end goal is for each unit and carefully plan steps that they will take to get there. Teachers need to know what they are looking for. They need to understand what pupils need to know and what pupils need to demonstrate in each lesson so they know where the children are. Teachers need to have clear, child friendly Learning Outcomes for each lesson so they can assess during each lesson.
Teachers will use their assessment to inform their planning for subsequent lessons. RE ability needs to be assessed through a variety of ways so teachers have a true awareness of the children’s knowledge and understanding. Pupils need several opportunities to show what they know. For example, teachers may use discussions, written evidence, AFL questions on whiteboards, quizzes, artwork and drama activities to help to determine what level the children are working at. Teachers need to think carefully about the questions they are asking the children with every lesson. They need to know what they expect pupils to do, say or write so they can continuously assess their knowledge and understanding effectively. At the end of each unit, teachers will use their teacher judgement based on what they have heard and seen within all of the lessons to assess where the children are working. Teacher will decide if children are working at: Entering, Developing, Expected or Greater Depth. Teachers should confidently be able to explain why they have given a child the level they have.
Through our carefully structured RE curriculum and high-quality teaching, we will see the children’s knowledge, understanding and spirituality develop throughout the school. Our RE books will show a snippet of our RE learning however learning will be mostly evident through having conversations with our pupils about their RE learning. Discussions in the classroom and pupil voice will enable our pupils to share their knowledge and their ability to discuss their own ideas and beliefs. Their confidence should grow as they go through the school. Our pupils will be able to show a range of subject knowledge across different world religions and their ability to compare religious beliefs, traditions and celebrations will develop. Children will be enthusiastic about RE lessons and be intrigued to find out more. Their confidence in talking about religions will develop and they will be able to show their knowledge and understanding through a variety of ways. Some of these ways should be documented. Teachers will take photos and they will upload some photos to Seesaw and Showbie. This will help evidence the variety of activities used to teach RE effectively.
Teachers will be able to assess RE confidently and be able to record what level the children are working at. The RE leader will be able to monitor this to help towards determining the success of RE teaching and learning across the school. Our RE books will show a progression through the year groups. By the end of Key Stage 1, our pupils will be able to know about the 6 major world religions and talk about some of them in detail. They should be able to discuss how religion can encourage some people to make life choices and they should recognise that religion can help many people to forgive others. Children should be able to start talking about their beliefs and linking them to other’s beliefs. By the end of Key Stage 2, pupils will have a deeper understanding of the 6 major world religions and non-religious views. They should be able to compare religions to one another, discussion the similarities and differences between worship, beliefs, celebrations and rituals. They should be able to discuss challenging questions linking to topics such as belonging, purpose and ethics and they should understand that some questions cannot be answered.