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Russell Lower School

Religious Education (RE)

Our religious education lead is Mrs D Tuck.
 

At Russell Lower School, we value Religious Education. Religious Education contributes dynamically to children and young people’s education in schools by provoking big challenging questions and exploring different answers about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, ultimate reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. Children at Russell love the big questions that RE allows them to discuss. For example, in Year 1 children explore what they think God is like?

 We want our children to remember their RE lessons in our school, to cherish these memories and embrace the opportunities they are presented with! From the moment, they step into foundation RE allows them to learn about where they belong. Connecting religious stories with personal experiences and sharing events in their lives that made them feel special. Bringing RE alive is important and during their time at Russell every child has the opportunity to visit different places of worship from churches to mosques and temples. These visits help with our children’s learning about local religions leading to a better understanding of world views in local, national and global contexts. Here in Ampthill we have strong links with local churches as well as a project called Open the Book which offers our children an opportunity to hear key Bible stories, from a team of Christians from local churches. This supports all year groups from Foundation’s recall of the Nativity to Year 1 where they need to understand how stories show what people believe to Year 4 where make clear links between texts/sources of wisdom and authority and the core concepts studied.

 At Russell we are aware that our local area does not expose our children to a wider range of cultures and religions. Therefore, during Year 3 our pupils have the opportunity to visit three different places of worship that many would never experience within their own life experience.  The visit offers first-hand experience of communities and faith groups, through places that are important to them and people who value them.  This supports the curriculum in year 3 and 4 where children are expected to be able to describe how people show their beliefs in how they worship and in the ways they live. Going to three different places of worship also allow the children to identify differences in how people put their beliefs into practice.  Children reflect on this visit and most agree that RE helps you to be more respectful and tolerant. Examples such as bumping into someone from a different religion who is wearing a headscarf and if you didn’t understand why you might say something mean and why someone might not celebrate Christmas.

 We want to provide our children with not only the minimum statutory requirements but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Therefore, our teaching not only equips our children with systematic knowledge but gives them understanding of a range of religions and world views that they may not have the opportunity to meet in their own community.  Lessons allow children to 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. Children at Russell quickly makes links between our school values and those that they learn about from religions. A year 4 pupil suggested that learning about RE has allowed them to understand that it doesn’t matter what religion you are or even if you have no religion everyone should be treated equally. That RE will help them when they meet people of different beliefs. Therefore, our RE provides children an aptitude for dialogue so that they can participate positively in our society with its diverse religions and world views. They learn to articulate clearly and coherently their personal beliefs, ideas, values and experiences while respecting the right of others to differ.

 The religious education curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas. 

Within RE we focus our teaching on the subject content outlined within the RE Agreed Syllabus 2018 – 2023 Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton. This agreed syllabus builds on the good practice from the previous agreed syllabus – Religious Education: The non-statutory national framework, produced by the then-Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in 2004 – and also the core ideas in A Curriculum Framework for Religious Education in England, the RE Council’s non-statutory framework from 2013.

We have developed year group and subject specific curriculum plans which identify when the different units will be taught across the academic year. Pupils participate in at least one discreet high quality RE lesson a week.

We have agreed that having taken into account the requirements and guidelines presented in the Agreed Syllabus, the following religions have been selected for study:

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Hinduism
  • Sikhism

  

From the syllabus it is required that:-

Foundation Children will encounter Christianity and other faiths as part of their growing sense of self, their own community and their place within it. 

KS1 - Christianity is studied (and one other principal religion in some depth)

KS2 – Christianity is studied (and two other principal religions in some depth)

 

RE starts with encounters with living faiths rather than the history and belief structures of traditions. For example, we have regular links with Christians from the local community, take children on a faith tour and have visit for groups such as Hinduism in Education.  During such visits, our foundation children have opportunities to dress up, take part in the Hindu story of Diwali, and later back in class make diva lamps to help them remember that good conquered evil.    

 

RE should be inclusive of both religious and non-religious worldviews. We ensure that the content and delivery of the RE curriculum are inclusive in this respect. In addition to the religions required for study at each key stage, non-religious worldviews are also explored in such a way as to ensure that children develop mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. For example, children will find out about non-religious naming ceremonies, non-religious festivals like Halloween/Bonfire Night and non-religious ceremonies for when someone has died.

 

 

Staff also make meaningful links across many subject areas. It plays an important role, along with all other curriculum areas, particularly PSHRE, in promoting social awareness and understanding in our children. We encourage our pupils to ask questions about the world and to reflect on their own beliefs, values and experiences. We include and promote British values, ensuring that children are aware of their rights and responsibilities as UK citizens. Examples of other curriculum areas: the use of key texts within English lessons to draw on RE stories and festivals, using Computing to further explore religion and belief globally and Geography different cultures and religion across the wider world, children have some understanding of the locality and origins of these cultures. Atlases are used to track the wide variety of journeys taken by key figures in history.

 

Progression in RE is planned for through a curriculum that balances skills with core knowledge. In order to support teachers in exploring the selected religions, the syllabus sets out an underlying teaching and learning approach, whereby pupils encounter core concepts in religions and beliefs in a coherent way, developing their understanding and their ability to handle questions of religion and belief. 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.

Teaching and learning in the classroom encompasses all three elements, allowing for overlap between elements as suits the religion, concept and question being explored. This approach allows different year groups to work on the same religions, building a spiral programme year on year, whilst children develop their understanding and ability to handle questions of religion and belief.

An Example of such progression is by the end of Foundation children can make connections with personal experience, in Year One children have begun to find out about and link religions and beliefs. By the end of Year 2 they can think, talk and ask questions about religion and belief for themselves. In Year 3 this would progress to suggesting and linking questions and answers, including their own ideas about the differences religion makes to life. Finally, in Year 4 they should be connecting their own reflections and views to the religions and beliefs they study, developing insights.

 Within all lessons we are working towards Rosenshine’s 17 Principles of Effective Instruction and use of the Great Teaching Toolkit. Short-term plans set out the learning objectives and success criteria for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them. Within our RE lessons pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes to help them develop their own morals and understanding of different societies, cultures and beliefs.

understanding of the spiritual, moral, social & cultural questions that surface again and again in their lives. In tackling difficult questions, it provides pupils with insight that can work to challenge stereotypes, promote cohesion, and tackle extremism. RE does important work encouraging young people to value themselves & the communities within which they live. Children at Russell will understand that each person is unique and important and teachings from religions such as Christianity and Judaism will explain why Christians and Jews believe that God values everyone. Stories such as the Lost Son from the Christian Bible would be used to explain the Christian belief.  Units that allow children to make connections between inspiring people from different religions breaks down stereotypes. Children recognise that well known people like Mo Farah may put his faith (Muslim) into action as an athlete. They learn that faith is important to Mo, and he tries to pray five times a day. When he won the 10,000 m he bowed down on the track to give thanks to God for his victory.RE has never been more relevant, engaging or challenging as religion and religious issues are in the news every day. For pupils to be able to understand our constantly changing world they need to be able to interpret religious issues and evaluate their significance. From the pupils first day at school RE gives students valuable insights into the diverse beliefs and opinions held by people today. It helps with their own personal development and supports an

 Within each lesson there is a very clear and concise LO/WALT such as, ‘To describe how people show their Sikh identity in dress, behaviour and values’, with strategies and resources discussed and shared within the lesson and beyond the classroom in order to deepen and strengthen knowledge and understanding and equip children with life-long skills.  

 Within the lessons and more widely across the school (such as through assemblies) the main areas of learning are consolidated through re-cap and reinforcement year on year where pupils progressively build their skills and knowledge and can link prior skills and knowledge to new learning to deepen their learning. For example, in Year 2 they build on the Year 1 learning on

why does Christmas matter to Christians by focusing on the ‘Good News’ Christians believe Jesus brings who build on the learning in Foundation around Christmas being Jesus’ birthday .

 Questioning, modelling and feedback are used to support the teaching and learning process, ensuring progression within every lesson and aid assessment.

More so than ever we provide flexibility within RE lessons to meet children’s needs and understanding due to the impact of Covid 19. This flexibility is also important in enabling us to teach around local/national/global events that may occur. The distribution of lessons complements key festivals throughout the year, such as; Diwali, Eid and Christmas.

Teaching of RE has continued over the Lockdown periods with many teachers making relevant adaptations such as virtual tours of a mosque, Gurdwara or synagogue when trips were not possible.

Post Lockdowns we have focussed on Barry Carpenter’s 5 levers; routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom which has resulted in various adaptions and restructuring of the curriculum over the last two years to ensure children are still accessing a well-rounded and rich RE curriculum whilst tackling some of the above. This has meant an increase of focus on regular RE lessons on return to school in order to give opportunities to handle religious artefacts and experience religions first hand through visitors and trips.   

As we move forward with our RE curriculum we will continue to identify gaps in learning and address these through changes to planning and unit sequencing to ensure the best possible progress is made such as ensuring that key knowledge at the appropriate level for each religion is known such as key vocabulary, main beliefs, special places, festivals, stories, symbols and important people can be easily recalled to allow the children to make connections and understand the impact of these.

 

Long and medium term plans and milestones
Impact

In order to measure the impact of our RE curriculum we use a range of formative and summative assessment in all lessons such as:

  • Questioning
  • Pupil, parent, staff voice/questionnaires
  • Observations/learning walks/drop ins
  • Analysis of our assessment tool linked to milestone documents/National Curriculum for each year

Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring of teaching and learning cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in RE as well as indicating areas for development.

 

Academic outcomes and impact:

For this year we are aware of the following outcomes for RE:

Early Years - People, Culture and Communities - 92.2% Expected in July 2023

The average ARE+ % is 89.5%. It was 87% last year and 88% at the end of 2019 (Pre-Covid). Only current year 3 and 4 still have RE gaps due to covid. 

 

Other outcomes and impact:

The children at Russell Lower School enjoy learning about other religions and why people choose to, or choose not to follow a religion. Through their R.E. learning, the children are able to

  • make links between their own lives and those of others in their community and in the wider world through visits to local places of worship

  • develop an understanding of other people’s cultures and ways of life by taking part in workshops conducted by people for other religions

  • extend their knowledge and understanding of religions and beliefs

  • develop a religious vocabulary and interpret religious symbolism in a variety of forms

  • reflect on questions of meaning, offering their own thoughtful and informed insights into religious and secular world-views

  • explore ultimate questions of beliefs and values in relation to a range of contemporary issues in an ever-changing society where children are increasingly being exposed to non-religious viewpoints 

  • feel they are valued as individuals and that their beliefs are valued and celebrated through assemblies such as Eid, Diwali, Christmas, Harvest etc

  • feel safe to learn new things and share their beliefs with others in an accepting environment

  • leave the school with a sense of belonging to a community where they have the confidence and skills to make decisions, self-evaluate, make connections and become lifelong learners

As such, R.E. is invaluable in an ever changing and shrinking world.