In Religious Education (RE) the deepest values of human life are shared and discussed. What do people live by and live for? What is it that makes people happy? At Yew Tree Community School we develop the children’s knowledge and understanding of the major world faiths and predominantly the shared key values by following the Local Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education. This syllabus enables teachers to offer to pupils the key values that have been treasured by all religious traditions. These values which are shared by many who have no religious convictions, have shaped Birmingham’s past and contribute to its present. The City’s future well-being will depend on them.
“It is very easy to concentrate on the differences between the religious faiths and to forget what they have in common – people of different faiths are bound together by the need to help the younger generation to become considerate and active citizens.” Her majesty the Queen, December 25th 2006
“In Religious Education the deepest values of human life are shared and discussed”. Birmingham Agreed Syllabus Conference, 2006
This syllabus for Religious Education aims at spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development and prepares pupils for a future in society by:
1. Learning from faith
2. Learning about religious traditions
The development is focussed on:
In order to develop the whole child as a spiritual, moral, social and cultured being, the pupil needs:
* to be challenged intellectually;
* to have their feelings deepened;
* to acquire relevant skills;
* all in ways that are socially constructive.
In order to develop and build society, the Religious Education curriculum requires an approach in which teachers, pupils and school communities are:
* working in partnership with parents, faith communities and the wider society;
* being responsive to the values freedoms and creative needs of people living in Birmingham elsewhere;
* cultivating social cohesion and solidarity, and creating social capital in the City.
All at Yew Tree Community School should have regard to their responsibility for developing society and consider ways of developing a partnership with parents and religious communities in their educational work. We should ensure that key and agreed social values are realised and that essential social structures are supported.
There is a statutory requirement laid upon schools to provide a basic curriculum. This consists of the National Curriculum and the locally agreed syllabus of Religious Education (RE). It must be taught to all pupils being enrolled in statutory education at five, but is not a requirement of the nursery curriculum. The statutory requirement entitles all pupils in Birmingham, irrespective of social background, culture, race, religion, gender or differences in ability or disabilities, to a programme of teaching and learning in religious education.
From September 2008 the Local Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education is required teaching in all of Birmingham.
Number and content of religious traditions to be taught
The following religious traditions must be used and taught:
1. Christianity must be used and taught at each Key Stage.
2. The religious tradition(s) of children in the classroom must be used and taught.
3. The religious tradition(s) which will broaden and deepen the curriculum, should be used and taught.
The content of each religious tradition is correlated to a disposition and has been agreed and fixed as set out in the following pages and on the website
The rights of parents and those of teachers regarding the subject
(For details see Education Act 1995 and circular 1/94) If parents do exercise their right to withdraw their child from RE they need to understand they have a responsibility to provide an alternative activity and it is not for the school to set additional work. The school’s responsibility is simply for the child’s health and safety. If a member of staff exercises their rights to not teach RE they are contracted to do alternative duties.
Methods of teaching RE
We base our teaching and learning style in RE on the key principle that good teaching allows children both to learn about religious traditions and to reflect on what the religious ideas and concepts mean to them. Our teaching enables children to extend their own sense of values, and promotes their spiritual growth and development. We encourage children to think about their own views and values.
A range of teaching and learning methods should be used. This would include use of discussion via whole class, group and talk partners, group problem solving, use of multimedia and handling religious artefacts. Visits and visitors are also key in the delivery of an effective RE curriculum. Any visits and visitors must be planned via the religious education coordinator in order to ensure consistency and balance of knowledge, skills and values in religious education across the school curriculum.
We recognise the fact that all classes in our school have children of widely differing abilities, so we provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this in a variety of ways, for example, by:
* setting tasks which are open-ended and can have a variety of responses;
* setting tasks of increasing difficulty (we do not expect all children to complete all tasks);
* grouping the children by ability in the room, and setting different tasks for each ability group;
* providing resources of different complexity, adapted to the ability of the child;
* using teaching assistants to support the work of individuals or groups of children.
There is evidence to suggest that young children have an innate sense of transcendence which relates directly to the spiritual and moral dimensions of the child’s development. Attention to these dimensions will fall largely within the area of Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Knowledge and Understanding of the World. These areas of learning have an important bearing on the development of the child’s dispositions and attitudes, a significant concern in this Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education. Religious Education can therefore clearly contribute to these areas of learning and potentially to all the other areas but it must show that it is doing so by explicitly relating Religious Education’s own specific interests to the aims devised for the foundation stage. (Refer to: http://www.birmingham-asc.org.uk/foundation.php)
Contribution of RE to the teaching in other curriculum areas
Religious education contributes significantly to the teaching of English in our school by actively promoting the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Some of the texts that we use in Literacy have religious themes or content, which encourages discussion, and this is RE’s way of promoting the skills of speaking and listening. We also encourage the children to write letters and record information, in order to develop their writing ability.
Personal, social and health education (PSHE) and citizenship
Through our religious education lessons we teach the children about the values and moral beliefs that underpin individual choices of behaviour. We also promote the values and attitudes required for citizenship in a democracy by teaching respect for others and the need for personal responsibility. In general, by promoting tolerance and understanding of other people, we enable children to appreciate what it means to be positive members of our pluralistic society.
Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
Through religious education in our school we provide opportunities for spiritual development. Children consider and respond to questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life. We help them to recognise the difference between right and wrong, through the study of moral and ethical questions. We enhance their social development by helping them to build a sense of identity in a multicultural society. Children explore issues of religious faith and values and, in so doing, they develop their knowledge and understanding of the cultural context of their own lives.
RE and ICT
Information and communication technology enhances religious education, wherever appropriate, in all key stages. The children select and analyse information, using the Internet. They also use ICT to review, modify and evaluate their work, and to improve its presentation. Older children use PowerPoint to help them make presentations on various values. Younger children can take photographs of the class acting out a key value. They can then make a class storybook of it, by adding in speech bubbles and a narrative text. Or, using desktop software, they can create a special book where each pupil has her or his own page; they also make a cover and binding for the book, and draw up a set of rules for its use. A digital video camera can record a visit to a place of worship, and pupils can also find the various artefacts in churches by doing virtual tours on church websites.
RE and Inclusion
At our school we teach religious education to all children, whatever their ability and individual needs. Religious education forms part of the school’s curriculum policy to provide a broad and balanced education to all children. Through our religious education teaching we provide learning opportunities that enable all pupils to make good progress. We strive hard to meet the needs of those pupils with special educational needs, those with disabilities, those with special gifts and talents, and those learning English as an additional language, and we take all reasonable steps to achieve this. For further details see separate policies: Special Educational Needs; Gifted and Talented; English as an Additional Language (EAL).
When progress falls significantly outside the expected range, the child may have special educational needs. Our assessment process looks at a range of factors – classroom organisation, teaching materials, teaching style, differentiation – so that we can take some additional or different action to enable the child to learn more effectively. This ensures that our teaching is matched to the child’s needs.
We enable all pupils to have access to the full range of activities involved in religious education. Where children are to participate in activities outside the classroom (a visit to a place of worship, for example, that involves a journey) we carry out a risk assessment prior to the activity, to ensure that the activity is safe and appropriate for all pupils.
Assessment for learning and of learning
Teachers will assess children’s work in religious education by making informal judgements as we observe them during lessons. On completion of a piece of work, the teacher assesses the work and gives the child written or verbal feedback to help guide progress. Older children are encouraged to make judgements about how they might improve their work in the future. The teacher will record the attainment at the end of a unit of work on the school’s assessment sheets in accordance with the school’s assessment policy. This information is used to assess the progress of each child, for setting new goals, and for passing information on to the next teacher at the end of the year.
Recording will also be in the children’s Religious Education books or through annotation of the teacher’s planning sheets.
Schools must report to parents on pupils’ progress in religious education.
We have sufficient resources in our school to be able to teach all our religious education teaching units. We keep resources for religious education in a central store where there is a box of equipment for each unit of work. There is a collection of religious artefacts which we use to enrich teaching in religious education. The school has a good supply of RE topic books and computer software to support the children’s individual research.
Monitoring and review
The RE subject leader is responsible for monitoring the standards of the children’s work and the quality of the teaching in religious education. They are also responsible for supporting colleagues in their teaching, for being informed about current developments in the subject, and for providing a strategic lead and direction for RE in the school. The subject leader reports on and evaluates strengths and weaknesses in the subject and indicates areas for further improvement. They have specially-allocated time for carrying out the vital task of reviewing samples of the children’s work and visiting classes to observe teaching in the subject .