At Hook Junior School we follow the Living Difference III as the legal requirement for teaching Religious Education (RE) within schools. In line with legal requirements and our policy RE is taught for 45 hours a year (1 hour a week).
The Living Difference documents purpose is to
‘Introduce children and young people to what a religious way of looking at and existing in the world may offer in leading one’s life, individually and collectively. It recognises and acknowledges that the question as to what it means to lead one’s life with such an orientation can be answered in a number of qualitatively different ways. These include the idea that to live a religious life means to subscribe to certain propositional beliefs (religion as truth); the idea that to live a religious life means to adhere to certain practices (religion as practice); and the idea that to live a religious life is characterised by a particular way of being in and with the world: with a particular kind of awareness of and faith in the world and in other human beings (religion as existence).’
We teach to the specifications of this document and also create lessons to develop children’s curiosity, mutual respect, understanding and empathy of people’s values and beliefs from around the world.
RE learning at Hook Junior School aims for children to develop their understanding of different values and beliefs from different religions held by people around the world. Each unit of work will be linked to at least one religion and within the unit develop children’s understanding of an aspect of this religion. The learning is all about people, what is important to them, how different concepts effect their lives and how they respond to them.
Additionally, each unit will be underpinned by a concept where children can understand what this means to the people who follow a particular religion, as well as how it links to non-religious ways of living and consider what it means to themselves and how it fits into their own lives whilst gaining the views of their peers. We aim for children to be able share, discuss and challenge the thoughts of their peers, and questions posed by their teachers, in a safe and respectful environment.
Concepts chosen are progressive throughout the school and are selected from 3 different categories.
- C Type – Specific to a particular religion – Resurrection and Umma
- B Type – Common to many religions – God, ritual, and symbolism
- A Type – Common to all people – celebration, specialness
RE is taught for the required statutory time of 45 hours over the course of an academic year and is covered by either a weekly session of learning or if deemed appropriate a unit can be blocked by teachers in order to achieve desired outcomes. Class teachers/Year teams can take this decision to block if they deem most appropriate for the learning.
RE is taught using the Enquiry Cycle from the Living Difference III document. This cycle has 5 stages of Enquire, Communicate, Contextualise, Apply and Evaluate. Class teachers may decide that certain stages of the cycle may need to be taught over more than one lesson.
Living Difference III says:
‘This approach to enquiry has five key steps where the teacher brings the child: At the Communicate and Apply steps to attend to their own and others’ experience. At the Enquire and Contextualise steps to engage intellectually. At the Evaluate step to discern value for others and themselves in a way dependent on the context of the enquiry.’
Enquire – Here material is new to the learner. Children may see different ways of looking at concepts and ideas. In Y5/6 where C concepts may be being studied, these may also be introduced here.
Contextualise - Children learn about the concept in specific context, for example within a specific religion or religions.
Evaluate –Children reflect on the concept from viewpoint of someone within a particular religion and how it may impact them in particular circumstances. This is also an opportunity for children to reflect on how the concept may impact themselves.
Communicate – This is where children share their own experiences of the concept and gather views of other people.
Apply – Children and young people become even more aware of others’ responses and might give examples from their own experience of the concept in different situations.
Learning in Religious Education needs to allow time for children to consider the concept in different ways and how it can be important to different people at different times. The learning can take place through discussions, debates, role plays, art work and written outcomes such as diary entries, poems and reflections. Where needed, resources such as artefacts can be found in the resources cupboard and visitors invited in to school (Priest etc). When written outcomes are used, teachers need to ensure key religious vocabulary is clear for children and correct these spellings when marking, if incorrect.
Outcomes for children should be a mixed throughout a unit and allow children to express themselves and their responses in a variety of ways. Where needed, tasks must be adapted and scaffolds provided to support children working at a lower ability or with special needs. Adaptations can be made using the progression of skills document to outline skills for each year group. Challenge tasks should be included to extend learning and allow children to deepen their understanding of concepts.
Parental right of withdrawal
In accordance with the Education Act 1996, School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and Education Act 2002, parents should have the right to withdraw their children from the teaching of Religious Education, without influence from the school, although the school will ensure parents or carers are informed of this right and are aware of the educational objectives and content of the Religious Education syllabus. In this way, parents can make an informed decision. Where parents have requested that their child is withdrawn, their right must be respected, and where Religious Education is integrated in the curriculum, the school will discuss the arrangements with the parents or carers to explore how the child’s withdrawal can be best accommodated. In order to avoid misunderstandings, any parent wishing to withdraw their child may arrange a meeting with the Head Teacher in order to discuss:
- The religious issues about which the parent would object to his/her child being taught.
- The practical implications of withdrawal e.g. supervision and alternative activities.
- The circumstances in which the school can reasonably be expected to accommodate parental wishes.
- Any advance notice required of such Religious Education.