At Neville‘s Cross, we recognise the importance of Religious Education in all aspects of our lives as religious beliefs and practices shape culture and society. It is our intention that our children will develop an openminded curiosity which motivates them to develop a deep knowledge and understanding about a range of religious and non-religious worldviews and the impact that these have for individuals and communities. Through an enquiry approach to the teaching of Religious Education, we aim to develop children’s critical thinking skills so that they are able to give opinions, support their ideas with reasons, consider alternative viewpoints, listen to and respond respectfully to the views of others. A key aim of Religious Education at Neville’s Cross, is to enable our children to reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, experiences, ideas, values and beliefs and the influence of these on their daily life, attitudes and actions. Through our teaching of Religious Education, we encourage our children to develop positive attitudes to their own and others’ beliefs, ideas, experiences, feelings and values in a classroom climate that recognises and respects difference, in order to prepare our children to develop tolerance as they live in an increasingly diverse world.
Our Religious Education curriculum is designed with our key curriculum drivers in mind:
Creativity – we aim to ignite curiosity within our children to allow them to question the religious and nonreligious worldviews around them at a local, national and global level and to appreciate the wonder of the world in which we live. Creative approaches to demonstrating knowledge and understanding such as storytelling, drama and art are carefully woven into Religious Education lessons. The critical thinking skills developed in Religious Education lessons will allow our children to think creatively to explore issues and possible solutions linked to religious and cultural issues.
Well-being – we recognise the valuable contribution Religious Education makes to our children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. By providing our children with opportunities to consider their own beliefs, values and attitudes and become increasingly sensitive to the impact of their ideas, attitudes and behaviour on others we hope to develop self-confidence in our children to communicate these to others, whilst at the same time being respectful and mindful that others have a right to different beliefs and practices to their own. At Neville’s Cross we value diversity.
Our Communities – within many of our RE units, there is a strong element of exploring the diversity of the local area as well as nationally and globally, for example through visiting religious buildings and receiving visitors from different world faiths into school to develop our cultural knowledge. We aim to develop strong links with our local church, St. John’s to allow our children opportunities to join with the local community for example through participating in festivals such as harvest or local fundraising opportunities. As part of our study of Durham Cathedral, our children come to appreciate and value the building’s significance not only for its historic and cultural heritage, but also the significance it has for the local and global Christian community.
Religious Education in the Early Years
In the Early years, Religious Education is a key aspect in developing our children’s personal, social and emotional development and understanding the world. During the Early Years, children begin to explore the world of religion in terms of special people, books, times, places and objects. They begin to ask questions and reflect on their own feelings and experiences. Through exploring, observing and finding out about different religions and practices, they use their imagination and curiosity to develop a wonder of the world in which they live. The Durham Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education (2020) uses the following themes to explore religion in the Early Years:
- Special: times, people, places, objects, books (this includes stories)
- Belonging: how belonging and identity are expressed
These two themes introduce children to some of the practices, beliefs and ideas within many religious traditions, for example: ‘Let’s find out about Diwali’ or ‘Let’s find out about special buildings and worship there’.
Religious Education in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
Religious Education in Key Stage 1 and 2 is planned to fully meet the needs of the Durham Agreed Syllabus (2020) and to ensure that all of our children are able to progressively develop and deepen their knowledge and understanding of religious and nonreligious world views and their critical thinking skills as they move through school. Children will develop a strong religious education vocabulary, building on their firm foundations in the EYFS.
Religious Education in Key Stage 1
During Key Stage 1, our children are introduced to some of the beliefs and features of Christianity, Buddhism, religious diversity and they begin to use subject specific vocabulary. Children are given the opportunity to raise questions and express their views simply. By encountering a variety of sources, children develop their enquiry skills to find out about religious and non-religious beliefs, practices and their impact on individuals and communities. Lessons take an enquiry approach with key questions being the driver to explore the overall unit question, for example, ‘Why did Buddha leave home?’ as part of the ‘What can we find out about Buddha?’ unit. Children are regularly given opportunities to consider what they can learn from the religious and nonreligious worldviews and practices for their own lives, for example, when learning about Christian forgiveness, how this can help them.
During Key Stage 1, our children learn to:
- Recall and name different beliefs and practices, including festivals, forms of worship, rituals and ways of life.
- Retell and explore the meanings of some religious and moral stories and how these impact on the beliefs and practices of individuals and communities
- Recognise some of the symbols and actions that express a religious community’s way of life, looking at similarities between them.
- Ask and respond to questions about what individuals and communities do, and why, so they can identify what it means to belong to a community.
- Notice and respond to some of the similarities between different religions and worldviews.
Religious Education in Key Stage 2
During Key Stage 2, our children are encouraged to be curious and ask increasingly challenging questions about religion, belief, values and human life. Building on their learning from Key Stage 1, our children extend and deepen their factual knowledge of religious beliefs and practices and begin to recognise local, national and global contexts. They extend their subject specific vocabulary, form their own reasoned opinions, identifying relevant information and using examples to back up their ideas. Children continue to be given opportunities to reflect on their own feelings, experiences, ideas, beliefs and values in relation to the religious material studied. During their time in Key Stage 2, children are taught about Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and religious diversity, including a special study of a local Muslim community. As such, by the time children leave our school in Year 6, they have encountered five of the world’s six principal religions (Sikhism is taught at Key Stage 3). In addition, children carry out thematic studies to help them analyse similarities and differences within and between religious and non-religious views.
During Key Stage 2, our children learn to:
- Describe and make connections between different features of the religions and worldviews they study, discovering more about celebrations, worship and the rituals which mark important points in life, in order to reflect on their significance.
- Observe and understand varied examples of religions and worldviews so that they can explain, with reasons, their meanings and significance to individuals and communities.
- Discuss and present thoughtfully their own and others’ views on challenging questions about belonging, meaning, purpose and truth, applying ideas of their own in different forms, including reasoning, music, art and drama.
- Describe and understand links between stories and other aspects of the communities they are investigating, responding thoughtfully to a range of sources of wisdom and to beliefs and teachings that arise from them
- Explore and describe a range of beliefs, symbols and actions so that they can understand different ways of life and ways of expressing belief.
- Discuss and apply their own and others’ ideas about moral questions, including ideas about what is right and wrong, just and fair, giving their own reasoned ideas in response.
Throughout EYFS and across both KS1 and KS2, children will have the opportunity to make links with learning in other subject areas. For example, using their reading skills to interpret the meaning of religious texts and stories, analysing art as religious sources, e.g. considering how Jesus is portrayed by artists or how art can be used to express belief in different religions. Children will draw on their speaking and listening skills and use drama and other art forms, e.g. poetry writing or drawing and painting to explore religious concepts and values. Children will have opportunities throughout the year to visit St John’s Church, have assemblies delivered by local religious leaders and laypeople, as well as visits from those of other faiths to enhance their cultural and religious knowledge.
As a result of strong teaching and learning in Religious Education, our children will have a sound knowledge and understanding of the principal religions they have studied, how many of the beliefs and values are interconnected and the impact that religion has on the lives of individuals and communities. Through this knowledge and understanding, children will celebrate difference and diversity, show respect for others with different beliefs to their own and have the self-confidence to debate their own opinions when discussing religion with others.