Vision for Religious Education
At St James’ C of E Junior school we develop the love of learning and life in a caring Christian community. RE is central to the purpose of St James’ C of E Junior School because, as a church school, we see that the Christian faith informs all aspects of our life together and commits us to a search for truth. As a school with a diverse multicultural population, with members actively committed to other faiths, we celebrate this diversity and offer a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our pupils. Religious Education in this school is provided through the use of the Gloucestershire Agreed Syllabus 2017-2022.
The Gloucestershire Agreed Syllabus 2017-2022 asserts the importance and value of religious education (RE) for all pupils, with ongoing benefits for an open, articulate and understanding society. The following purpose statements underpin the syllabus, which is constructed to support pupils and teachers in fulfilling them:
Religious education contributes dynamically to children and young people’s education in schools by provoking challenging questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, ultimate reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human.
In RE pupils learn about religions and beliefs in local, national and global contexts, to discover, explore and consider different answers to these questions.
Pupils learn to weigh up the value of wisdom from different sources, to develop and express their insights in response and to agree or disagree respectfully.
Teaching therefore, should equip pupils with systematic knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and beliefs, enabling them to develop their ideas, values and identities.
RE should develop in pupils an aptitude for dialogue so that they can participate positively in our society, with its diverse religions and beliefs.
Pupils should gain and deploy the skills needed to understand, interpret and evaluate texts, sources of wisdom and authority and other evidence. They should learn to articulate clearly and coherently their personal beliefs, ideas, values and experiences while respecting the right of others to differ.
RE in St James’ C of E Junior school explores how individuals and communities make meaning and sense of their lives through the major religions of the world. It enables pupils to know about, understand and respond to the important ultimate questions of life and challenges them to think for themselves whilst they explore and investigate these questions. RE is taught in such a way that it inspires pupils to explore, develop and affirm their own faith and values and have respect for the faith, beliefs and values of others. It is not the practice of this school to preach to or seek to convert children. Values education permeates the RE curriculum at St James’ C of E Junior school.
In order to provide this, we have identified the following curriculum drivers:-
Children at St James’ often join the school with English as an additional language and /or with poor language acquisition. Children will be encouraged to discuss their ideas – why do you think that? How do you know? Explain your thoughts or beliefs, and to use sentence stems when answering questions. Children will have the opportunity to
Use talk to organise, sequence, connect and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events.
Use talk to answer questions and explain their response to stories, experiences or events from different sources.
Discuss how they and others show feelings, thoughts, ideas and beliefs.
Debate concepts, questions and beliefs of people of faith or of no faith.
RE vocabulary will be explicitly explained, displayed and used accurately by teachers and pupils.
Children are encouraged to have a ‘Have a go’ attitude, and they view mistakes as a learning opportunity. Each class has an Access to Learning area which the children can use at their own choice to help them with their learning and problem-solving. The whole school ethos is to encourage children to enquire and ask questions in order to impact on their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. During religious education lessons, children are challenged to push themselves to think outside their comfort zones and explore their skills, beliefs and ideas; asking questions at all times whilst experiencing practical lessons. Children are encouraged to be independent learners; to help themselves, to identify their own targets and areas they need to work on, and to edit their own work.
RE gives children the opportunities and experiences linked to different faiths and values that build their aspirations as a person of faith (or no faith) and allows them to develop their own value set such that they can flourish as people of integrity.
Opening doors to the world
Our pupils need to see how their learning is relevant to their lives and future. We want our children to be productive, valuable members of society and therefore, they need the skills and knowledge equal to their peers to access employment. We believe children learn best from real experiences in order to capture their imaginations and encourage curiosity. We try to enhance our curriculum in many ways to ensure that children learn from and develop respect for different religions.
Children have the opportunity to discuss beliefs and values in a safe, caring community enabling them to develop a sense of self-worth such that they can face difficulties and differences of opinion with integrity and respect. Children are taught to think about their own school and personal values and to understand how people of different backgrounds or beliefs may share similar values whilst differing in other values. Our curriculum and lesson design ensures all children work together through the objectives but with support and challenge where needed. Pupils with SEND have an individual learning plan which ensures that they make progress and feel successful at their own level.
Our children need the skills and experiences in order to access the same opportunities and experiences as their peers in the future.
The aims of RE
The purpose of RE is captured in the principal aim, which is intended to be a shorthand version for day-to-day use. It should be considered as a doorway into the wider purpose articulated above.
The threefold aim of RE elaborates the principal aim
The curriculum for RE aims to ensure that all pupils:
1. Make sense of a range of religious and non-religious beliefs, so that they can:
identify, describe, explain and analyse beliefs and concepts in the context of living religions, using appropriate vocabulary
explain how and why these beliefs are understood in different ways, by individuals and within communities
recognise how and why sources of authority (e.g. texts, teachings, traditions, leaders) are used, expressed and interpreted in different ways, developing skills of interpretation
2. Understand the impact and significance of religious and non-religious beliefs, so that they can:
examine and explain how and why people express their beliefs in diverse ways
recognise and account for ways in which people put their beliefs into action in diverse ways, in their everyday lives, within their communities and in the wider world
appreciate and appraise the significance of different ways of life and ways of expressing meaning 3. Make connections between religious and non-religious beliefs, concepts, practices and ideas studied, so that they can:
3. Evaluate, reflect on and enquire into key concepts and questions studied, responding thoughtfully and creatively, giving good reasons for their responses
- challenge the ideas studied, and allow the ideas studied to challenge their own thinking, articulating beliefs, values and commitments clearly in response
discern possible connections between the ideas studied and their own ways of understanding the world, expressing their critical responses and personal reflections with increasing clarity and understanding
The Approach to Teaching and Learning
The teaching and learning approach has three core elements, which are woven together to provide breadth and balance within teaching and learning about religions and beliefs, underpinning the aims of RE outlined above.
Teaching and learning in the classroom will encompass all three elements, allowing for overlap between elements as suits the religion, concept and question being explored.
These elements set the context for open exploration of religion and belief. They offer a structure through which pupils can encounter diverse religious traditions alongside non-religious worldviews – which reflect the backgrounds of many of the pupils in our school. The elements present abroad and flexible strategy that allows for different traditions to be treated with integrity. These elements offer a route through each unit while also allowing or a range of questions reflecting different approaches, for example, from religious studies, philosophy, sociology, ethics and theology.