Skip to content

We are an Operation Encompass School

Call us: 01274 874 550

“Let Your Light Shine!” - Matthew 5:16

Shirley Avenue

Gomersal

Cleckheaton

Bradford

BD19 4NA

Menu

Religious Education (RE) Policy


Aims and purposes of Religious Education at Gomersal St. Mary’s CE Primary School

At Gomersal St. Mary’s our vision statement underpins everything we do and is central to our school ethos.

By being the best we can be, we all shine brightly making our world a better place.

We respect and celebrate everyone’s uniqueness, supporting each other so that we can reach our full potential.

We show love for each other through acts of friendship and forgiveness.

We show resilience so that we feel confident to face any challenge.

‘Let your light shine’ Matthew 5:16

We believe that our purpose as a school community is to nurture each other spiritually, intellectually and emotionally so that we can each be the best that we can be, and can go forth and shine a positive light in the world. This is why we believe that the quality teaching of Religious Education is fundamental to fulfilling this vision. We believe that by delivering high-quality, engaging and challenging Religious Education, we can not only prepare our pupils to flourish within the modern world, but equip them with the understanding and skills to enhance it.

Human beings have two polar instincts: a hard-wired fear of difference, perceiving the ‘other’ as a threat, fuelling resentment, hatred and division; and its antithesis, a profound emotional capacity for empathy, sensing the hurts, hopes and joys of other individuals and communities. In this paradox lies hope. If RE can support the nurture of empathy, it will also help young people to celebrate common humanity, rather than being lured into a cul-de-sac of hatred, anger and division. Well-prepared and challenging RE will help to inspire young people to learn from others and discover the value of empathy.

Believing and Belonging- Locally Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in Kirklees, Calderdale and Leeds- 2019

RE ‘should explore the important role that religious and non-religious worldviews play in all human life. This is an essential area of study if pupils are to be well prepared for life in a world where controversy over such matters is pervasive and where many people lack the knowledge to make their own informed decisions. It is a subject for all pupils, whatever their own family background and personal beliefs and practices.’

Commission on RE, September 2018

This policy is also underpinned by the school’s Steps to Success, the core Christian Values lived throughout school:

  • Resilience – Through RE lessons, we support our children and staff to develop and flourish as confident and curious individuals who have the skills necessary to lead happy, fulfilling lives able to participate fully and positively in the modern world.
  • Friendship – Through RE lessons, we create a community where everyone is valued and where all individuals are cherished for their uniqueness and diversity is celebrated.
  • Love – Through RE lessons, we foster an atmosphere of acceptance and love where individuals are valued and ‘love thy neighbour’ is lived through our approach to others.
  • Respect – Through RE lessons, we encourage all members of our school community to show tolerance and understanding to others and to respect themselves for their own uniqueness.
  • Forgiveness – Through RE lessons, we teach that forgiveness is a skill essential to building strong relationships with others and, for those of faith, with God.

Rationale

At Gomersal St. Mary’s we use the Kirklees, Calderdale and Leeds Agreed Syllabus, Believing and Belonging together with three core themes from Understanding Christianity:  Incarnation, Salvation and God.

The Kirklees, Calderdale and Leeds Agreed Syllabus is called Believing and Belonging because it includes two key elements:

First, it is about beliefs and values. It aims to develop pupils’ understanding of world faiths and other beliefs, exploring their commonality and diversity. A good curriculum will ensure that there is both depth of study (some areas investigated in detail) and breadth (an overall general understanding of the faiths and related philosophical and ethical questions).

Secondly, it is about ‘belonging’. It aims to nurture pupils’ awareness of the treasury of diversity as well as sensitivity to the questions and challenges that different views and cultures can present. Ultimately, we all share a common humanity and we share this patch of the Earth. Human beings are strengthened and empowered by learning from each other. So, through experience and culture, it is possible to explore the opportunities, challenges and purpose of our individual lives and communities. Engaging and stimulating RE helps to nurture informed and resilient responses to misunderstanding, stereotyping and division. It offers a place in the curriculum where difficult or ‘risky’ questions can be tackled within a safe but challenging context.

At Gomersal St. Mary’s Primary, we believe that primarily, RE’s purpose is to give pupils a broad understanding of Christianity, world faiths and nonreligious beliefs; this is sometimes referred to as religious literacy. It is essential that the curriculum ensures that there is both depth of study (some areas investigated in detail) and breadth (an overall general understanding of the faiths and related philosophical and ethical questions). Properly taught, RE is a rigorous academic subject, supporting problem solving and critical thinking skills.

RE Today’s Understanding Christianity is used by teachers to deliver the Christianity focused units within our long-term plan. Three of the core themes have been selected by the school to be explored in greater and greater depth as children move from year group to year group. These themes are: Incarnation, Salvation and God.

Understanding Christianity’s approach to teaching about Christianity builds up pupils’ encounters with these core concepts through biblical texts, placing the texts and concepts within the wider Bible story. Each unit addresses a concept, through some key questions, exploring core Bible texts, their impact for Christians, and possible implications for pupils.

Developing awareness of the fundamental questions raised by human experiences, and of how religious teachings can relate to them;

  • Responding to such questions with reference to the teachings and practices of religions and other belief systems, relating them to their own understanding and experience;
  • Reflecting on their own beliefs, values and experiences in the light of their study;
  • Enabling children to know about and understand Christianity as a living faith that influences the lives of people worldwide and as the religion that has most shaped British culture and heritage.
  • Enabling children to know and understand about other major world religions and non-religious worldviews, their impact on society, culture and the wider world, enabling pupils to express ideas and insights.
  • Contributing to the development of children’s own spiritual/philosophical convictions, exploring and enriching their own beliefs and values.

Curriculum

The school’s long term plan which incorporates units from Believing and Belonging and Understanding Christianity, uses and reflects the Curriculum Framework for RE in England published by the RE Council in 2013 and the Commission on RE report 2018. However, it adapts non-statutory guidance to respond to local needs and experience.

Within the agreed syllabus, Believing and Belonging, there are three broad aims, each subdivided into two areas. A balance of these will be included in any curriculum plan at every key stage. Pupils and students will:

  1. Investigate the beliefs and practices of religions and other world views
    1. Beliefs and authority: core beliefs and concepts; sources of authority including written traditions and leaders;
    2. Worship and Spirituality: how individuals and communities express belief, commitment and emotion.
  2. Investigate how religions and other world views address questions of meaning, purpose & value
    1. The nature of religion and belief and its key concepts;
    2. Ultimate Questions of belonging, meaning, purpose and truth.
  3. Investigate how religions and other world views influence morality, identity and diversity
    1. Moral decisions: teachings of religions and other world views on moral and ethical questions; evaluation, reflection and critical responses;
    2. Identity and Diversity: diversity among and within religions and other world views; individual and community responses to difference and shared human values.

Understanding Christianity’s approach to teaching about Christianity builds up pupils’ encounters with core concepts through biblical texts, placing the texts and concepts within the wider Bible story. Each unit addresses a concept, through some key questions, exploring core Bible texts, their impact for Christians, and possible implications for pupils. Each unit incorporates the three elements below:

  1. Making sense of the text: developing pupils’ skills of reading and interpretation; understanding how Christians interpret, handle and use biblical texts; making sense of the meanings of texts for Christians.
  2. Understanding the impact: examining ways in which Christians respond to biblical texts and teachings, and how they put their beliefs into action in diverse ways within the Christian community and in the world.
  3. Making connections: evaluating, reflecting on and connecting the texts and concepts studied, and discerning possible connections between these and pupils’ own lives and ways of understanding the world.

Teaching and learning is focused around rigorous investigation or enquiry of key questions. Questions for enquiry will be contemporary, relevant and engaging. Study of religious and nonreligious approaches to life will help to equip young people to explore personal questions of meaning and to engage with profound issues and contemporary questions that face our communities now and in the future.

Planning a unit of work

These are the five steps teachers use in planning a unit of work, based on an enquiry method.

  1. Choose a key question- this should be based on one or more of the aims of the syllabus. Look at these aims in the relevant key stage of the syllabus, together with the illustrations provided. How are you going to use these to help pupils to develop the question?
  2. Plan an assessment task- this must match one or more of your key aims.
  3. Compile sub-questions within each part of the enquiry Group these within each of the three elements of enquiry. E.g. What is the question about? What are the relevant beliefs and practices?  What responses can be made?
  4. Write Learning Objectives to fit the questions- these sub-questions will then inform the learning objectives for sections within your scheme of work, building towards the assessment task. It is not necessary for one element of enquiry to follow another in a strict order; they may be woven into the pattern in other ways. The important thing is for the learning to include the three elements overall. Teachers should keep in mind the progression maps provided later in the syllabus to support the progression of key themes/ concepts.
  5. Devise learning activities- these support the learning objectives and the overall aims of the unit. It would be useful to provide an initial stimulus at the beginning of the unit to engage the pupils in the new unit.

Evidencing learning

Children record their learning through contributing to a class floor book or through work they do in their individual RE books over the course of each unit. We believe the use of class floor books is an essential part of the way we teach RE, allowing lessons to be more fluid and reactive and providing pupils with an inclusive method of sharing their ideas. For example:

  • Writing in a thinking and talking floor book explores the shared thinking in a more formal way so that children recall each other’s ideas and record them through writing, drawing and photographs.
  • Many children re-visit the books and learn from another’s experience or indeed their own ideas from a previous session.
  • Thinking and talking floor books create a child centred approach, which records the evidence of the journey of a lesson and the learning that comes from it.
  • Updating the floor book in consultation with children is important because: – It creates closer match between the child and the curriculum they are experiencing – It builds self-esteem and positive attitudes when the learner is involved in the decision making – It increases intrinsic motivation, that stays with a child throughout life. – Children know that they have a right to be treated with respect by valuing their thoughts and opinions.

Features of a floor book include:

  • Children’s ideas and thoughts
  • Open-ended questions – Questions are posed as a part of a conversation and are designed to stimulate thought and not test knowledge.
  • Higher order thinking
  • Depth of learning – Collating children’s ideas in a book form ensures that the group focus on continuity and progression over longer blocks of time.
  • Collaborative learning – floor books are designed to be a large size to allow children to gather around them and engage in a learning dialogue around the content of the pages.
  • A variety of methods to represent thinking – adult scribing the questions and conversations, children’s drawings, photos, adult observations.
  • Collates child centred ideas that are taken forward by staff – the floor book is an integral part of planning.
  • The books are available to children at all times.

Coverage

The schools’ long term plan is designed to focus on specific core religions at each key stage: Christianity and Islam from KS1, adding Sikhism and Judaism at KS2. In addition, other (non-religious) world views must be included as part of the curriculum at each key stage.  Aspects of other faiths and world views will also be incorporated to meet local needs and circumstances. Our RE teaching reflects the huge variety within different religions and the many other faiths and systems of belief beyond the six defined world faiths and aims to challenge stereotypes, not reinforce them.

Within our curriculum, each unit of work focuses around a key question related to the subject content of the syllabus. Enquiry and investigation of the key question should include at least three elements:

  • An analysis of the question: Explore the issues and human experience involved in the question. What do we know? What are the issues? It is vital to start from concepts understood by pupils. For young children this will mean focusing around practical ideas that can be applied to thinking and religious questions. For all pupils it will involve considering practical and meaningful issues around the question.
  • A critical investigation of relevant beliefs, practices and ways of life: Investigate beliefs and values from the chosen faiths and other world views, evaluating different perspectives and responses to the question. Decide the religions or belief systems that will be a focus for learning. Remember there is often variation between beliefs and practices and within particular traditions. What do people believe? Which religious texts, stories or traditions are relevant? What do they do? How do they celebrate? What difference does it all make?
  • A reasoned and critical response: Assemble, evaluate and explain possible conclusions and express a considered personal response to the issue. Pupils investigate different conclusions and consider some of the concepts involved. Are there elements of personal reflection to gain from this? This is critical for all pupils, not only those from a religious tradition. For example, the concept of promise can be applied in a secular or religious way.

Enhancing Learning

At our school, we believe that one of the key roles of RE in schools is to support community cohesion and the development of SMSC and Fundamental British Values. We encourage teachers to take every opportunity to widen the opportunities for all pupils. This could be by:

  • Celebrating a variety of local, national and international festivals e.g. Festivals of light
  • Understanding how different people celebrate both religious and non-religious festivals
  • Charity work including refugee week, children in need, sports relief
  • Remembrance Day
  • Interfaith Week and including diversity of religious belief and faiths e.g. Bahá’í
  • National and international awareness days/ weeks.

Religious Education in Early Years

In EYFS, teachers indicate the opportunities they are providing to integrate RE into children’s learning through planning. Pupils will encounter religions and other world views through special people, books, times, places and objects and by visiting places of worship. They will listen to and talk about stories from a range of different religions and world views. Pupils will be introduced to subject specific words and use all their senses to encounter beliefs and practices. They will be encouraged to ask questions and talk about their own feelings and experiences. Pupils will use their imagination and curiosity to develop appreciation of, and wonder at, the natural world. They will learn to appreciate and value human beings, recognising and encountering diversity.

Religious Education in Key Stage 1

In KS1, pupils will develop their knowledge and understanding of religions and world views, recognising local, national and global contexts. They will use basic subject specific vocabulary. They will raise questions about beliefs and find out about questions of right and wrong and begin to respond with their own views.

Teaching and learning will be focused around Christianity and Islam, alongside understanding of non-religious approaches to life. Aspects of other faiths will be included as appropriate, such as teaching about specific festivals or rituals.

As part of investigating the beliefs and practices of religions and other world views, pupils will be taught to:

  • Recall and name different beliefs and practices, including prayer, worship, festivals, rituals and ways of life, in order to find out about the meanings behind them;
  • Retell and suggest meanings for some religious and moral stories, exploring and discussing sacred writings and sources of wisdom and recognising the traditions from which they come;
  • Recognise some ways that people express beliefs and belonging through prayer, worship, symbols and actions, appreciating some similarities between communities.

As part of investigating how religions and other world views address questions of meaning, purpose and value, pupils will be taught to:

  • Explore questions about beliefs, expressing their own ideas and opinions in response, using words, music, drama, art or poetry;
  • Observe and recount different ways of expressing belief, responding sensitively for themselves.

As part of investigating how religions and other world views influence morality, identity and diversity, pupils will be taught to:

  • Find out about questions of right and wrong and begin to express their ideas and opinions in response;
  • Notice and respond sensitively to some similarities between different religions and other world views in their approach to questions of beliefs and meaning.

Religious Education in Key Stage 2

In KS2, pupils will extend their knowledge and understanding of religions, beliefs and values, recognising personal, local, national and global contexts. They will be introduced to an extended range of sources and subject specific vocabulary. They will be encouraged to be curious and to ask and discuss increasingly challenging questions about beliefs, values and human life, drawing on the insights of religions and other world views. Pupils should respond with their own ideas, identifying relevant information, selecting examples and giving reasons to support their ideas and views.

Teaching and learning will build on the KS1 focus around Christianity and Islam, and be extended to the study of Judaism and Sikhism, alongside developing understanding of nonreligious approaches to life. Aspects of other faiths will be included as appropriate, such as teaching about a specific concept, festival or practice.

As part of investigating the beliefs and practices of religions and other world views, pupils will be taught to:

  • Describe and understand links between stories and other aspects of the communities they are investigating, responding thoughtfully to beliefs and teachings that arise from them
  • Describe and make connections between different features of the religions and other world views, discovering more about prayer, celebrations, worship, pilgrimages and the rituals which mark important points in life.

As part of investigating how religions and other world views address questions of meaning, purpose and value, pupils will be taught to:

  • Observe and understand varied examples of religions and other world views so that they can explain, with reasons, their meanings and significance for the choices made by 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 (e.g.) reasoning, music, art and poetry.

As part of investigating how religions and other world views influence morality, identity and diversity, pupils will be taught to:

  • Discuss and respond to ethical questions, including what is right, wrong, just and fair, and the complexity of these questions;
  • Consider and apply ideas about ways in which diverse communities can live together for the well-being of all, responding thoughtfully to ideas about community, values and respect.

Continued Professional Development

To demonstrate the subject’s comparable status with other core curriculum areas in both staffing and resourcing, it is a priority in our school to build up staff expertise in RE specifically but not exclusively, working towards:

  • At least one member of staff having specialist RE training or qualifications
  • All staff teaching RE having access to appropriate professional development
  • All teaching staff and governors having an understanding of the distinctive role and purpose of RE within Church schools
  • A governing body, which monitors standards in RE effectively.

Assessment

Appropriate to their age at the end of their education in Church schools, the expectation is that all children are religiously literate and, as a minimum, pupils are able to:

  • Give a theologically informed and thoughtful account of Christianity as a living and diverse faith.
  • Show an informed and respectful attitude to religions and non-religious worldviews in their search for God and meaning.
  • Engage in meaningful and informed dialogue with those of other faiths and none.
  • Reflect critically and responsibly on their own spiritual, philosophical and ethical convictions.

Assessment is based on progress towards the end of key stage statements. To help teachers to assess progress, interim expectations for each unit of work are assessed against for each child based on formative assessment judgements made throughout the course of their learning. These assessment methods enable teachers to identify children who are working towards, at or above expected standards in RE and to adapt future teaching to ensure good progress for all learners. At the end of each unit of work, teachers assess pupils against a set of ‘I can’ statements to assess whether pupils are working towards, at or above age-related expectations for that particular unit. This information is shared with SLT and analysed to inform future CPD opportunities and to provide leaders with accurate information on trends in pupil performance.  This information is also regularly shared with governors to help them to support and challenge leaders to continue to improve RE teaching.

RE and Special Educational Needs

All children have the right to a good education and the opportunity to fulfil their potential. All teachers should expect to teach children with special educational needs and all schools should play their part in educating children from the local community, whatever their background or ability.

Removing Barriers to Achievement

In supporting pupils to access RE teaching, our teachers will have regard to three principles essential to developing an inclusive curriculum in order to meet the needs of all pupils:

  • setting suitable learning challenges;
  • responding to pupils’ diverse learning needs;
  •  overcoming potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils.

Teachers employ many strategies to make RE more accessible to pupils with SEN. These adjustments include, but are not limited to:

  • Giving pupils first hand experiences, for example, inviting visitors into school, visits to places of worship and taking part in celebrating festivals;
  • Organising a range of activities to give personal experiences which can include dance, drama and visits to a range of environments;
  • Helping pupils to understand and appreciate their world and its diversity;
  • Using sensory materials and resources through sight, touch, sound, taste or smell. These can include music, use of tactile artefacts or engaging pupils in visiting a sensory garden;
  • Use a range of IT to increase pupils’ knowledge of religions and elements in them

Legal Requirements

RE is for all pupils:

  • Every child has an entitlement to Religious Education.
  • RE is a necessary part of a ‘broad and balanced curriculum’ and must be provided for all registered pupils in state-funded schools in England, including those in the sixth form, unless withdrawn by their parents (or withdrawing themselves if they are aged 18 or over).
  • The ‘basic’ school curriculum includes the National Curriculum, RE and Sex Education. In Church schools RE has the status of a core subject.

Withdrawal

Parents must be advised of their right to withdraw children from RE in all Church schools (including voluntary aided schools). Parents wishing to withdraw their children from RE lessons must make their request in writing to the head teacher. In the event that children are withdrawn, schools retain responsibility for health and safety. Children can be withdrawn from all or part of RE provision.

Entitlement

In order to deliver the aims and expected standards of the syllabus, the Diocesan Boards of Education for Leeds and York strongly recommend a minimum allocation of curriculum time for RE based upon the law and the statement of entitlement from the Church of England Education Office: We aim to be close to 10% of curriculum for teaching RE, but must be no less than 5%.

In practice, this means a starting point of 60 minutes per week for Key Stage 1 and 75 minutes per week for Key Stage 2 RE.

Foundation stage – 36 hours of RE e.g. 50 minutes each week or as part of continuous provision.

Key stage 1 – 36 hours of RE e.g. 60 minutes each week.

Key stage 2 – 45 hours of RE e.g. 75 minutes each week.

RE should be taught in visibly identifiable time. There is clearly a common frontier between RE and such subjects as literacy, citizenship or PSHE. However, the times identified in this policy are explicitly for the clearly identifiable teaching of Religious Education.

We believe RE is different from collective worship. Curriculum time for Religious Education is distinct and separate from the time schools spend on collective worship.

At our school, we believe that it can be helpful to combine some aspects of RE with other subjects for some topics in a cross-curricular pattern. This will suit some topics but other aspects of the syllabus may need to be delivered in discrete time. At times, half or full day blocks may also be used to deliver aspects of the curriculum. This has the advantage of enabling sustained study and a variety of learning opportunities, particularly if linked to visits outside school.

Regardless of our flexible approach to the teaching of RE, the integrity of the curriculum will be maintained. The RE content will be clear, rigorous and identifiable.

Leadership

Good RE depends upon quality subject leadership. RE is a core subject in a Church of England school. As such, we regard it as a priority to build up the expertise of all those who lead and teach RE. We regularly take opportunities to provide access to specialist training and support from the diocese and other subject experts for all involved in RE.

RE should has equal status with other core subjects in staffing, responsibility and resourcing. Cover supervisors and Teaching Assistants (TAs) who are involved in the delivery of RE are supported by the RE subject leader or a member of the senior leadership team and have access to professional development in RE.

The role and responsibilities of governors in the Church of England school

The Statement of Entitlement for Religious Education 2016 states: “A high quality Religious Education (RE) curriculum is essential to meet the statutory requirement for all maintained schools to teach a broad and balanced curriculum. At the heart of RE in church schools is the teaching of Christianity, rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. There is a clear expectation that as inclusive communities, church schools encourage learning about other religions and world views fostering respect for them. Although there is not a National Curriculum for RE, all maintained schools have a statutory duty to teach it. In foundation and voluntary controlled schools with a religious character, RE must be taught according to the Locally Agreed Syllabus unless parents request RE in accordance with the trust deed of the school; and in voluntary aided schools RE must be taught in accordance with the trust deed.”

Therefore, governors in Church schools and academies have a responsibility for holding the school leaders to account for the high quality of RE provided for children. All governors should have an understanding of the place and quality of Religious Education in Church schools and academies; foundation governors bear particular responsibility in this area.

The role and responsibilities of our governors are:

  • To have strategic oversight of Religious Education
  • To ensure that proper provision and resources are available
  • To contribute to and support Religious Education, as a core subject of the school
  • To contribute to and support the formation of a policy and curriculum for Religious Education
  • To ensure that the policy and curriculum prepares children with a religious understanding and sensitivity to take their place in the world
  • To be a ‘critical friend’ in order to ensure the highest possible standards in teaching and learning in Religious Education
  • To ensure a curriculum that is inclusive and reflects breadth and depth
  • To ensure curriculum time and staffing meet the requirements of this syllabus.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the following school policies:

  • Collective worship policy
  • SMSC policy
  • Curriculum policy
  • Equality Policy
  • SEND policy