“We may have different religions, different languages, different coloured skin, but we all belong to one human race.” – Kofi Annan
St Dennis Primary Academy is a school that believes in the achievements and aspirations of learning about and learning from the different world religions. In today’s world, it is vital to teach our children about the traditions, festivals and the values of others. We also encourage children to share their experiences and celebrate their own beliefs. RE helps to prepare our pupils to become responsible citizens by raising local, national and global concerns. Our golden rules underpin the values taught by different religions and our daily assemblies celebrate a variety of morals.
The school’s vision “Everyone matters, everyone succeeds, every moment counts” and values for education lead our whole school curriculum intent: Aspiration, Courage, Achievement, Friendship, Teamwork and Responsibility. This is achieved through a ‘wellbeing, exciting, creative, active and nurturing curriculum,’ which promotes the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of children.
The intent of teaching Religious Education at St Dennis aligns to the Cornwall Syllabus principle aim of children exploring what people believe in and what difference this makes to how we live, to enable them to gain the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to handle questions raised by religion, reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living.
Our scheme of work is in accordance with the Cornwall Agreed Syllabus 2020-2025, which progressively builds the children’s understanding of significant theological concepts with their own self-understanding and understanding of the world.
The Implementation of the School’s programme of study for RE is in accordance with ‘The Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in Cornwall 2020-2025.’ All religions and their communities are treated with respect and sensitivity and we value the links that can be made between home, school and a faith community. We acknowledge that each religion studied can contribute to the education of all our pupils. We promote teaching in Religious Education that stresses open enquiry and first-hand experiences wherever possible for both staff and children.
Our Religious Education Curriculum is high quality, well thought out and is planned to demonstrate progression. The syllabus is implemented in school through a sensory approach, where children may look at and handle religious artefacts, hear religious music or taste food from a religious tradition. Work in Religious Education builds on the children’s own experiences and uses contemporary issues to stimulate discussion. Reflection on learning is a key aspect to each RE lesson. Children make sense of a range of beliefs, understand the impact and make connections.
In order to do this, we follow the breadth of the programmes of study of the National Curriculum for Religious Education. We use the Chris Quigley structure to ensure we implement a coherently planned Religious Education curriculum underpinned by our drivers. The five ‘Threshold Concepts’ of: Understanding beliefs and teachings, Understand practices and lifestyle, Understand how beliefs are conveyed, Reflect and Understand values are repeated many times in each topic. This enables children to reinforce and build upon prior learning, make connections and develop subject specific language. This provides the vertical accumulation of knowledge and skills. Milestones define the standards for the threshold concepts and provide clarity about what is to be learnt in each Key Stage. We also talk about key skills of being a theologian and these are in children’s books as a reminder.
Our long term plan encompasses units of work from Understanding Christianity where the teaching and learning approach enables children 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. It includes opportunities for children to examine and evaluate connections between these ideas and the wider world.
Our RE curriculum is ambitious for all pupils. We therefore consider ways of minimising and reducing barriers so that all pupils are included. The areas where we consider varying approaches and adaptations include maintaining an inclusive learning environment, using multi-sensory approaches (including ICT), working with additional adults, managing peer relationships, communication, formative assessment, motivation, and memory or consolidation.
Our Religious Education curriculum 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 develops children’s knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other principal religions, other religious traditions and other worldviews that offer answers to questions such as these.
It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development. It enhances children’s awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression, as well as of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures.
Religious Education encourages pupils to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions while exploring their own beliefs and questions of meaning. It challenges pupils to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their responses.
The importance of Religious Education is that it encourages pupils to develop their sense of identity and belonging. It enables them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a pluralistic society and global community.
Religious Education has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and lifelong learning. It enables pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own. It promotes discernment and enables pupils to combat prejudice.
We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- Formative assessing of children’s understanding of topic (including vocabulary) before, during and after a unit is taught through a range of methods including mind maps, KWL grids and low stake quizzes
- Summative assessment through on-going learning and Proof of Progress tasks to assess whether understanding of milestones is basic, advancing or deep
- Images and videos of the children’s practical learning
- Interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice) with their books and floor books
- Annual reporting to parents of standards across the curriculum
- Marking of written work in books
How does RE link to British Values?
At St Dennis, RE makes a key educational contribution to children’s explorations of British Values and the teaching of RE enables them to learn to think for themselves about these values. RE offers opportunities to build an accurate knowledge base about religions and beliefs in relation to values. This in turn supports the children of St Dennis so that they are able to move beyond attitudes of tolerance towards increasing respect, so that they can celebrate diversity. Values education and moral development are a part of the school’s holistic mission to contribute to the wellbeing of each pupil and of all people within our communities. The RE curriculum focuses learning in some of these areas, but pupils’ moral development is a whole-school issue.
St Dennis does not accept intolerant attitudes to members of the community; attitudes which reject other people on the basis of race, faith, gender, sexual orientation or age are rightly challenged. A baseline for a fair community is that each person’s right to ‘be themselves’ is to be accepted by all. Tolerance may not be enough - at St Dennis RE challenges children to be increasingly respectful and to celebrate diversity, with tolerance is a starting point. Mutual tolerance in RE is achieved at St Dennis through allowing children to think and talk for themselves. We look at newspapers and websites together and watch age appropriate current affairs programmes and discuss what is happening. The children are encouraged with effective well-placed questions such as, “Why do you think that happens?” “What do you mean by that?” and “What do you think others would say about it?”
In the RE curriculum at St Dennis attention focuses on developing mutual respect between those of different faiths and beliefs, promoting an understanding of what a society gains from diversity. Pupils at St Dennis learn about diversity in religions and world views and will be challenged to respect other persons who see the world differently to themselves. Recognition and celebration of human diversity in many forms can flourish where pupils understand different faiths and beliefs and are challenged to be broad-minded and open-hearted. An example of this practice in Key Stage 2 is a unit of study focuses on the question “What matters most to Humanists and Christians?” Respectful attitudes are developed through this unit by considering the similarities and differences between the values of Christians and Humanists where they often share similar values but the belief behind them is different.
In RE at St Dennis pupils learn the significance of each person’s ideas and experiences through methods of discussion. In debating the fundamental questions of life, pupils learn to respect a range of perspectives. This contributes to learning about democracy, examining the idea that we all share a responsibility to use our voice and influence for the wellbeing of others. An example of this practice in Key Stage 1 is a unit of study focuses on the question “How should we care for others and the world and why does it matter?” Within this unit, the children debate the benefits and responsibilities of friendship and give examples of how they care for friends and families in different ways. An example of this practice in Key Stage 1 is a unit of study focuses on the question “How should we care for others and the world and why does it matter?” Within this unit, children debate the benefits and responsibilities of friendship and give examples of how they care for friends and families in different ways.
The Rule of Law
At St Dennis, pupils examine different examples of codes for human life, including commandments, rules or precepts offered by different religious communities. They learn to appreciate how individuals choose between good and evil, right and wrong, and they learn to apply these ideas to their own communities. They learn that fairness requires that the law apply equally to all, irrespective – for example – of a person’s status or wealth. An example of how the rule of law is taught in Lower Key stage 2 is through the unit “What is it like to follow God?” In this unit children discuss agreements, pacts, covenants and the 10 commandments. Children make a list of what the world could do without from today’s world to make it a better place. From here children need to debate the items and split them into groups of things we can stop and things we cannot stop.
In RE, at St Dennis, pupils consider questions about identity, belonging and diversity, learning what it means to live a life free from constraints. They study examples of pioneers of human freedom, including those from within different religions, so that they can examine tensions between the value of a stable society and the value of change for human development. Individual liberty is achieved in RE at St Dennis in upper Key stage 2 through the unit “Why do some people believe in God and some people not?” In this unit children discuss and reflect on the possible benefits and challenges in believing or not believing in God in Britain today. This supports the children to reflect upon on their views and how they view people with beliefs different to theirs.
Linking RE with the community is key to immerse pupils in learning whilst providing real life context. At St Dennis Primary Academy we welcome visits from the local people of different faiths to support and connect the importance of the British values within the children.
How to support RE teaching at home
The best way to support your child with their RE learning at home is through discussions and open conversations. There are lots of great websites which have content and activities to share with your child. Here are some to explore together: