Religious Education at Eaton Park
Subject leader: Mrs Whitmore
Subject coach: Mrs Bell
Link governor: Mrs Gething
The principle aim of RE is to engage all pupils in systematic enquiry into significant human questions which religion and worldviews address, so that they can develop the understanding and skills needed to appreciate and appraise varied responses to these questions, as well as develop responses of their own. Here at Eaton Park, our dedicated staff work tirelessly to ensure that our children leave us as well-rounded individuals who will be prepared for the next stage of their journey, and considering the diverse and multi-cultural society we live in, it is more important than ever for young people to have a good understanding of the world around them, different religions and cultures and feel comfortable to discuss global tensions and challenge stereotypes. Our MASTER values work hand in hand with this as they encourage our children to become respectful, thoughtful and enthusiastic learners. Our children, particularly in Upper Key Stage Two, will be encouraged to explore and debate philosophical questions, and in previous years, our writing evidence has even seen exploration of whether the afterlife is a driving force for people living a moral life.
In order for our children to make the best possible progress in RE, it is important that relevant links are made between subjects, where necessary, to ensure that children are able to build on and deepen their learning (see curriculum links below). We follow the Stoke-on-Trent Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education 2016. This syllabus offers increased flexibility and extra support for planning as well as providing practical strategies, guidance and resources for teachers. The ‘Love to Celebrate’ scheme from the Cornerstones curriculum is a vehicle that our staff use to provide lessons for our children, and by having all year bands exploring the same religion at the same time, allows us to track the clear progression within the subject and makes staff explicitly aware of the knowledge the children have gained previously. We are on a journey with our development of techniques to ensure that our children can retain their learning and become confident with their own subject knowledge; therefore, we have adopted a range of strategies for this such as weekly learning recalls, knowledge journeys which are added to throughout the year and knowledge maps at the start of a new unit to recap key information for each of the six main religions.
We are lucky enough to provide many fascinating experiences for our children with regards to RE other than their learning inside the classroom. Collective worship and class assemblies are frequently used to explore religious themes, practises and celebrations as well as giving the children the opportunity to reflect. Secure and vital links with the local clergy are very important to our |Academy, and our children thrive on fortnightly assemblies delivered by the team at St Mary’s Church in addition to regular visits to them, particularly at the end of terms and to support learning in Christianity. We try, where possible, to arrange whole school visits to religious buildings to provide our children with a breadth of experience, and again, to see their learning in a real-life context. Our 4D room also quite literally provides another dimension for our children: staff can create inspiring content to support the children with their RE learning. In our eyes, allowing the children to explore the sights and sounds of a religion will only help to build on the knowledge and skills that they already have. Religious Education heavily features in our annual celebration of ‘Cultural Week’ where children explore the history, languages, religious beliefs and geography surrounding different cultures and countries. Each year band, inclusive of EYFS, are allocated a country of focus, and the week will be an amazing amalgamation of visitors sharing snippets of culture, parents being invited in to share expertise across the school and planned learning sessions.
The Subject Leader:
I am Mrs Whitmore, class teacher and Religious Education curriculum leader at Eaton Park Academy. In my role, it is my responsibility to oversee the effective planning and delivery of this subject, ensuring our children are provided with diverse experiences. With a degree in Primary Education and specialism in RE, it is my passion to expose children to the wonders different religions and cultures during their time with us. We, as a school, believe in using the wealth of knowledge and expertise of our growing percentage of religious children and parents to provide the very best opportunities: we have had parents in to share their religious beliefs and encourage staff to invite children to teach during lessons. As a curriculum leader, I have taken great care in mapping the appropriate skills for each year band to ensure that RE is planned and sequenced effectively so that new knowledge and skills build on prior learning, ensuring that progressive skills are covered through each of the six main religions across the year.
It is essential that as a subject leader, I strive to keep up to date with any curriculum changes by attending Primary RE Network meetings and feed this back to staff. It is important for me to have a clear picture of religious education at Eaton Park; therefore, learning walks to observe classroom practise along with work scrutinies are a common feature of tracking how teaching and learning impacts on the progression towards end points. Ensuring staff have high-quality resources to aid their teaching also falls under my remit as well as tracking assessment of the subject and conducting pupil surveys to gain an understanding of the children’s ideas of strengths and weaknesses in RE. Feedback will always be provided in order to maintain the high expectations and very best provision for our children, ideas to improve retaining subject knowledge are shared, and advice will always be offered to raise confidence of our staff. All of this information provides the basis of a termly subject report, which will be shared with appropriate leaders and link governors.
I believe that our children learn best when they have ample opportunities for learn both about and from religion: it is important that they are able to compare their learning to their own experiences and beliefs, and this seems to be one of the main things that children enjoy from feedback I have received.
The curriculum for RE aims to ensure that all pupils:
1. Know about and understand a range of religions and worldviews, so that they can:
– describe, explain and analyse beliefs and practices, recognising the diversity which exists within and between communities and amongst individuals
– identify, investigate and respond to questions posed, and responses offered by some of the sources of wisdom found in religions and worldviews
– Appreciate and appraise the nature, significance and impact of different ways of life and ways of expressing meaning.
2. Express ideas and insights about the nature, significance and impact of religions and worldviews, so that they can:
– explain reasonably their ideas about how beliefs, practices and forms of expression influence individuals and communities
– express with increasing discernment their personal reflections and critical responses to questions and teachings about identity, diversity, meaning and value, including ethical issues
– Appreciate and appraise varied dimensions of religion.
3. Gain and deploy the skills needed to engage seriously with religions and worldviews, so that they can:
– find out about and investigate key concepts and questions of belonging, meaning, purpose and truth, responding creatively
– enquire into what enables different individuals and communities to live together respectfully for the wellbeing of all
– Articulate beliefs, values and commitments clearly in order to explain why they may be important in their own and other people’s lives.
Early Years Foundation Stage:
As part of the ‘Understanding the World’ strand of EYFS, the children will explore basic religious stories and acts of prayer. A lot of their learning will surround Christianity; however, key festivals will be an integral part of how religious education is shared with their children. Work linked to Diwali, Chinese New |Year and many other celebrations will teach the children about diversity. They plan opportunities for their children to explore cultures and the traditions, for example looking at African dancing. PSHE and circle time will be a main factor for EYFS children and where they will learn about showing mutual respect and how to behave in places of worship. Religious songs and music will be a focus, particularly around the time that we attend church as a whole school.
Assessment for learning:
The learning outcomes in the Stoke on Trent Agreed Syllabus support our teachers in assessing whether pupils are on track to meet end of key stage expectations by assessing knowledge by using strategies such as weekly learning recalls, reading answers in weekly news activities and knowledge maps. Teachers track the success of learning objectives using our online assessment tool, OTrack. Their understanding of each key outcome will be monitored as emerging, securing or exceeding. An SMSC books allows teachers to keep track of evidence towards learning objectives and make judgements about the children’s achievements and progress in RE.
RE within other curriculum subjects:
SMSC & PSHE – Spiritual, moral, social and cultural learning underpins all content within RE at Eaton Park, working alongside our MASTER Values. RE is a flagship subject for championing and promoting the teaching of thinking skills, British Values and links to PSHE. It provides opportunities for pupils to ask questions, seek answers and develop ideas in a quest to discover more about their own identity and that of others. Within their learning in RE, pupils develop specific attitudes that are open, reflective, and critical and a skill base which allows them to be curious, play with ideas, empathise, listen, imagine, question, make links and reason. Asking children philosophical questions gives them to opportunity to explore and develop their moral compass.
History – Most religions have a huge focus on history as this forms the basis of their beliefs. Links can be made to history when exploring historical timelines, the origins and history of religions and remembering important dates in religions.
English – The opportunities for children to explore religious stories within RE is plentiful, and this gives them a much better grasp of the key morals hidden within them. We promote using stories to compare religions during lessons. This approach will also benefit the children’s understanding of language, giving them an enriched vocabulary. Even children lower down the school will be able to improve their basic inference of feelings during festivals by looking at pictures of religious followers. The use of Eaton Park Speakers, drama and speaking and listening skills to retell key religious stories helps our children to show their learning in a variety of ways.
Maths – The teaching of R.E. can contribute to children’s mathematical understanding in a variety of ways: most commonly, the children can find the difference between key dates, tracking how many years the religion has been recognised for. When on religious visits, the children have the opportunity to spot patterns and tessellations around religious buildings. Skills such as religious timelines, counting in twos for animals in the ark and working out distances people travel for pilgrimage are other examples of links between the two subjects.
Computing – Computing forms part of RE mostly when conducting research and presenting information. Another link comes when the children look at how technology fits into the modern world in religions.
Art & D&T – Art is a subject which works well when teaching religious education: the obvious link of stained-glass windows will be clear for the children when visiting St Mary’s Church. Exploring how religions use art to express meaning and beliefs; the use of light in portraits help the children to see the importance of religious figures. It is also important for our children to learn about how art reflects religious celebrations and the use of colour as a representation.
Geography – Map work has been a feature of teaching religious education where children explore the religious beliefs of specific areas, most recently for their knowledge maps at the start of a new unit. Children higher up in the school have also looked at the percentages of religions in different areas of the world and compared these to their assumptions. Atlases can be used to track the journeys that believers would take when travelling to pilgrimage.
The children have the opportunity to visit different religious buildings to witness their learning first-hand as well as parents and outside agencies being invited in to share their expertise and culture with the children. Religious leaders and visitors are invited into the school to supplement the children’s learning, and each year, a group of pupils attended the annual R.E. conference. The aim of the annual conference is for the pupils to learn from one another through shared experience and dialogue. A variety of themes are explored on this day and the children feed back to the rest of the school. Each term, the children are invited to take part in a service at St Mary’s Church, where they will contribute to Easter, Christmas and end of year services. At Christmas time, children in each key stage will create a performance linked to the key Christmas messages.
‘I have particularly enjoyed learning about Buddhism. I enjoy learning about different beliefs – I know that there are a lot of people with different beliefs, and I respect and like learning how they live their lives because it’s so different to how we live.’ Laci
‘I like RE because I learn about new and different beliefs that are different to mine. We should treat them nicely and equally.’ Emmanuel
‘I enjoyed mixing learning about RE with art. It was interesting to see similar celebrations in my religion and Hinduism.’ Adam
‘I likes learning about the tray that Hindus have to represent the different Gods.’ Ronnie