Schools are required by law to provide all registered pupils with Religious Education. In Norfolk this includes the Reception Year of the Foundation Stage who should follow the Programme of study for Foundation.
At White House Farm Primary School (WHF), we meet the legal requirements for Religious Education by following the EYFS, KS1 and KS2 breadth of study as outlined in the Norfolk Agreed Syllabus 2012.
As a school we use the Discover RE Scheme of work to ensure that the requirements outlined in the Norfolk Agree Syllabus are met.
By following Discovery RE at school we intend that Religious Education will:
- Adopt an enquiry- based approach as recommended by Ofsted, beginning with the children’s own life experience before moving into learning about and from religion. Provoke challenging questions about the meaning and purpose of life, beliefs, the self, and issues of right and wrong, commitment and belonging. It develops pupils’ knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other principal religions, and religious traditions that examine these questions, fostering personal reflection and spiritual development.
- Encourage pupils to explore their own beliefs (religious or nonreligious), in the light of what they learn, as they examine issues of religious belief and faith and how these impact on personal, institutional and social ethics; and to express their responses.
- Enable pupils to build their sense of identity and belonging, which helps them flourish within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society.
- Teach pupils to develop respect for others, including people with different faiths and beliefs, and helps to challenge prejudice.
- Prompt pupils to consider their responsibilities to themselves and to others, and to explore how they might contribute to their communities and to wider society. It encourages empathy, generosity and compassion.
- Develop a sense of awe, wonder and mystery.
- Nurture children’s own spiritual development.
Discovery RE covers all areas of RE for the primary phase, Christianity plus one other religion in each group forms the pattern. The grid below shows specific enquiries for each year group. Where a choice is indicated, please see each year groups curriculum overview document to see the options we have selected from this scheme.
Discovery RE brings together learning about and from religion, questioning and spiritual development in a comprehensive scheme of learning. Teaching strategies are varied and are mindful of preferred learning styles and the need for differentiation. Each enquiry starts from the children’s own life experiences using these as a bridge into the investigation of the religion being studied. Learning is assessed and children have opportunity to express their own thoughts and beliefs and empathise with believers of that religion or belief position.
Teachers at WHF use a range of pedagogies and teaching strategies, whilst following the Discover RE scheme of work, in order to fulfil the requirements of the Norfolk Agreed syllabus. An ‘enquiry based approach’ is applied to the teaching and learning of with each enquiry focuses on a concept or question taken from one of the areas of study and is rooted in both learning about and learning from religion and belief.
Learning about - Pupils enquire into:
- the beliefs, teachings and practices of Christianity and other principal religions
- other religious beliefs and world views
- the influence of beliefs, values and traditions on individuals, communities, society and the world
- the nature and demands of ultimate questions relating to religious and moral issues
Learning from religion and belief - In the light of their studies, pupils respond to, analyse and evaluate:
- the fundamental questions of life raised by human experiences, and how religions, beliefs and world views may provide answers to them
- the truth claims, beliefs and practices of different religions and world views, and the nature of religion itself
- their own beliefs, values and experiences
Teachers create a climate for effective learning in RE with enquiry at the heart The enquiry process is to be set within a climate for effective learning in RE where:
- the learning is set in a real and authentic context, with a clear purpose, meaning and relevance
- a safe environment is created where all pupils are valued, so that they can confidently agree to disagree and express themselves freely
- an appropriate level of challenge is provided for all pupils
- all pupils know they can achieve and there is an expectation of success
- pupils have a sense of ownership over what is being learned and how they are learning it
- there is a clear learning journey and identifiable outcomes
- there is space and time for reflection and spiritual development
- assessment for learning is at the heart of teacher planning.
Teachers follow the Discover RE ‘4-step enquiry’ plan which outlines the key principles in the Norfolk Agreed Syllabus’ - Framework for Enquiry
A key question for the enquiry requires children to find an answer that weighs up ‘evidence’ and reaches a conclusion based on this. This necessitates children using their subject knowledge and applying it to the enquiry question, rather than this knowledge being an end in itself. Sequences of lessons focuses on critical thinking skills, require children to personally reflect on their own thoughts and feelings.
Step 1 - Engagement (1 lesson) The key question is explored here within the children’s own experience, whether that includes religion or not. If they can relate to the human experience they will be better able to understand the world of religion into which the enquiry takes them. Their personal resonance with this underpinning human experience acts as the bridge into the world of religion (which may be very much outside of their experience).
Step 2 - Investigation (3 lessons) The teacher guides the children through the enquiry, studying subject knowledge (the factual base about the religion), carefully selected to assist their thinking about the key question. Some of the enquiries have a lot of relevant content so teachers do need to be selective and not try to cover too much. Depth is more important.
Step 3 - Evaluation (1 lesson) This lesson draws together the children’s learning and their conclusions about the key question of that enquiry. This is an assessment task which the teacher can assess by using the Level descriptors at the end of each enquiry. The levels are exemplified and tracking and record sheets are included, as are pupil self-assessment sheets.
Step 4 – Expression (1 lesson) Children are taken back to Step 1, their own experience, to reflect on how this enquiry might have influenced their own starting point/beliefs, etc.
Experiences and Opportunities
Teachers also aim to ensure that children encounter religion and world views through:
- planning visits to places of worship, where possible, and where not, making use of video, Internet and e-mail
- meeting, in action and dialogue, people who are religious believers and considering a range of human and religious experiences and feelings
- encouraging children to express and communicate their own and others’ insights through art and design, music, dance, drama and ICT
- developing ICT use, particularly in enhancing pupils’ awareness of religions and beliefs globally
Teachers ensure children are making progress with their learning throughout their RE using the built-in assessment for each line of enquiry. This task is the formal opportunity for teacher assessment of the children’s knowledge of that religion, depth of critical thinking, and ability to answer the enquiry question. This stand-alone evidence is used in conjunction with other evidence such as records of discussions and annotations from other lessons within the enquiry to assist the teacher in reaching a best-fit level.
The RE leader monitors delivery of the programme through observation and discussion with teaching staff, as well as discussions with children and scrutiny of their written work to ensure consistent and coherent curriculum provision. Evaluation of the programme’s effectiveness is conducted based on:
- Pupil and teacher evaluation of the content and learning processes
- Staff meetings to review and share experience
- Monitoring of assessment to ensure progression throughout the school
Discovery RE is written as a universal core curriculum provision for all children. Inclusivity is part of its philosophy. Teachers will tailor each enquiry to meet the needs of the children in their classes. To support this differentiation, many enquiries suggest creative learning activities that allow children to choose the media with which they work and give them scope to work to their full potential. To further help teachers differentiate for children in KS1 and 2 classes with special educational needs, each enquiry has level exemplars for the full range likely for that age group, allowing children to evidence levels from L1 to L5.
For further information regarding the teaching of RE at White House Farm Primary School, please follow the link to the schools RE Policy.