Religious Education

We are currently in the process of reviewing our Religious Education curriculum, having worked closely alongside local faith leaders, and using the Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus of Religious Education framework to inform our planning. The Hertfordshire syllabus encourages pupils to reflect upon and develop their own beliefs and ways of living whilst developing positive and respectful attitudes towards those of different faiths, beliefs and ways of living. The Agreed Syllabus reflects the views of Hertfordshire teachers and representatives of local faith and belief communities.

The statutory requirements have evolved from the previous established Syllabus, taking into account national changes and developments, both in R.E. and in education in general. In particular, it reflects the emphasis now placed on the ‘worldviews approach’ to R.E. arising out of the Commission on RE Report of 2018, ‘Religion and Worldviews: The way forward, a national plan for RE.

The Agreed Syllabus also supports the Vision of the Herts CC Corporate Plan (2022-25) . By developing children and young people who flourish in a diverse society, respecting difference whilst being able to reflect on and articulate what they believe to be important in life we are meeting the plan’s commitments to give every child the best possible start in life, and the opportunity to live life well. We are educating young citizens so that they can contribute positively to inclusive and safe communities in which everyone is valued, kept safe from harm and which embrace and celebrate diversity.

Religious Education is the open exploration of what people believe, their way of life and the impact of beliefs, values and ways of living in local, national and global communities. It engages pupils in the process of understanding what others believe, what is important to them, how they live their lives and what influences them. In doing this, pupils also reflect on their own beliefs and values and their main influences.

This process is rigorously academic, developing in pupils such skills as:

*critical, creative and reflective thinking about philosophical argument, theological (multi-faith) concepts and life issues.

*questioning and interpreting ‘Truth’ claims.

* ways of conveying meaning.

*different approaches of investigating the subject-matter, including a range of academic disciplines and approaches.

*listening with understanding and compassion.

*engaging positively with diversity.

This aspect of RE reflects the first two ‘types of knowing’ in the Ofsted research review (May 2021), substantive knowledge and ways of knowing. However, it is also deeply personal, encouraging pupils to reflect on their own experience and raise challenging questions of meaning, purpose and value directly for themselves. RE enables pupils to engage in critical dialogue, with their peers and with people of different faiths, beliefs and backgrounds, about issues that really matter in people’s lives. It is in this respect that RE contributes significantly to aspects of personal development. These more personal dimensions are an integral part of pupils’ education and are central to the nature of RE. This aspect of RE reflects and deepens the third way of knowing identified by Ofsted: ‘Personal Knowledge.’

High quality RE will be open to pupils of all religious traditions and none, and will engage pupils, challenging them to reflect on the big questions life throws at us and some of the different responses to these from around the world and throughout history. It will help pupils to understand the world and to find their place within it. It will contribute significantly to building stronger communities in and around the school.

The Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus of Religious Education sets out eight key areas of learning: Beliefs and Practices, Sources of Wisdom, Symbols and Actions, Prayer, Worship and Reflection, Identity and Belonging, Ultimate Questions, Human Responsibility and Values, and Justice and Fairness. These eight areas inform our planning to ensure an appropriate, ambitious, sequential and coherent RE curriculum for our pupils. Our Religious Education curriculum at Skyswood Primary and Nursery School reflects a progressive, enquiry-based model which identifies the religions and world views covered through each Key Stage. We have opted to deliver our Religious Education curriculum through a thematic approach, where concepts are explored across two or three different religions/worldviews. Our curriculum ensures that all pupils develop knowledge and understanding of sources of wisdom and their impact whilst exploring personal and critical responses. Our curriculum considers the background of our own pupils, whilst ensuring a broad and balanced coverage that reflects the diversity within as well as between religions and worldviews. 

In September 2023, Hertfordshire revised their agreed syllabus with greater emphasis on how to develop a worldviews approach in planning. The key areas of learning remain the same, but the enquiry questions that underpin each unit have been significantly updated through the revised Hertfordshire curriculum; (Exploring Religion and Worldviews: non-statutory guidance supporting the Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus of Religious Education in Primary Schools 2023-2028). This document, alongside the National Content Standard for Religious Education (July 202 First Edition) offer a refreshed vision for the subject, based on a religion and world views approach. The transition to our own revised curriculum for Religious Education has required a number of adaptions to our current plans, taking due account of the Hertfordshire guidance on how to develop a worldviews approach within our planning. This approach includes agreeing a big enquiry question to underpin each unit of study, developing a three-stage structure to the enquiry as the ‘corner stones’ of each enquiry, selecting the key information for pupils to engage with and learn, and familiarising ourselves with the guidance and support materials in line with our own school context. Our target for the full implementation of the new Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus in Religious Education is September 2024. In the interim period, as we work towards the full implementation of the new syllabus, our Religious Education Curriculum remains driven by the eight key areas of learning (as agreed in the Hertfordshire Syllabus) and a thematic approach to learning.

Our aim is to provide a rich, progressive and innovative curriculum where children learn about different faiths alongside each other rather than in isolation. Our Religious Education curriculum focuses on key themes and identifies clear and specific learning goals for the end of each key phase.

Our statement of intent, implementation and impact is based very much on our ‘work in progress’, centred around the Religion and Worldviews approach as outlined in the revised Hertfordshire Syllabus. We recognise that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principle religions represented in Great Britain. The school will continue to enrich our Religious Education curriculum with appropriate visits, visitors and cross-curricular opportunities.

INTENT

At Skyswood, we aim to provide children with a curriculum where they will learn from and about religion and diversity, enabling our children to develop a greater understanding of the world around them. Our curriculum ensures that, by the end of Year 6, our children will have learnt about the six major world religions and other world views, and their roles in the local community and on a global scale. Our Religious Education curriculum reinforces our key school values; kindness, curiosity, respect and resilience. Our curriculum drivers are central to our planning. We aim to prepare children for life in a multicultural and diverse world. We encourage children to ask questions and to think carefully, curiously and deeply about questions that may not have an answer, or where people may have a difference of opinion. The design of our R.E. curriculum ensures that children are regularly exploring the different beliefs and practices of one religion alongside at least one other, comparing similarities and not just differences, and developing empathy and acceptance of each faith, or non-faith. The religion and worldviews approach ensure that our curriculum is relevant and accessible to all pupils, regardless of their faith or non-faith. It contributes positively and significantly to a whole-school approach to anti-racist education.

IMPLEMENTATION

Religious Education is taught at Skyswood for, on average, an hour per week. Units of study are planned in a way to maximise the impact of learning and take advantage of specific festivals and religious celebrations. We have developed our curriculum based on the eight key areas of learning and the agreed framework of the Herts for Learning syllabus (2023-2028). These themes permeate each key stage, with specific end point outcomes identified for each key stage. Medium term plans include a three-stage structure to exploring the key question within each unit. Children learn through a model where they identify the key questions and learning points, explore and investigate these questions further and respond to and reflect upon their learning, contextualise  their learning, and ultimately synthesize and apply their learning to deeper questions. The eight ‘Key Areas of Learning’ (KAL) are as follows;

  • Sources of wisdom
  • Identity and belonging
  • Beliefs and practices
  • Symbols and actions
  • Human responsibility and values
  • Justice and fairness
  • Prayer, worship and reflection
  • Ultimate questions

Within our early years, the children have a broad programme where they find out about religious festivals from a range of faiths. Children encounter Christianity and religions and beliefs represented in the class, school and local community. RE supports a growing sense of the child’s awareness of self, their own community and their place within this. The key religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are then studied within Key Stage 1, with Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism introduced alongside these religions in Key Stage 2.

The curriculum is enriched through a wide range of visits and visitors who share their own experiences and faiths, along with presentations from children and families within our own school community. Throughout their time at Skyswood, children will experience a number of off-site visits to different places of worship where they discover first hand, enriching their previous and subsequent learning within the classroom. Visits include St Mary’s Church, Marshalswick, in reception, St Albans Abbey, local churches and a mosque/the St Albans Islamic Centre in Key Stage 1, along with Bhaktivedanta Manor (a Hindu temple) and a Gudwara and Synagogue in Key Stage 2. Our themed approach to Religious Education and identified focus on key festivals is further enriched through school assemblies and whole school celebrations of religious festivals.

IMPACT

Our Religious Education curriculum enables our children to fully engage with others in a multi-cultural and ever-changing world, where individuals and communities may differ, but ultimately aim to live together in harmony, showing tolerance and respect for one another. Our Religious Education curriculum ensures that our children are well informed and are able to learn in a safe, non-bias learning environment. Children are able to openly express their own views and beliefs whilst also feeling empowered to develop these as they grow. It is our aim that children leave Year 6 with a strong understanding of the values that contribute towards positive and inclusive communities and a strong knowledge of the six major world faiths, along with an understanding and acceptance that many people make positive contributions to our communities and society whilst not necessarily following a particular faith. Our children have a clear understanding of why it is important and necessary to study Religious Education in order to develop a deeper understanding of each other and the world in which we live.

By the end of the EYFS pupils should:

Share their family traditions and the joy of celebrations, beginning to explore those of other belief communities.

Respond, through talk, gesture and play about religious stories, objects, people and practices.

Use some basic religious vocabulary and use their imagination and curiosity to develop their interest in the world around them.

Ask questions about the meaning and importance of what they are learning.

By the end of Key Stage 1 pupils should:

Notice and respond sensitively to some similarities between different religions.

Explore and develop their knowledge and understanding of religions and worldviews, recognising their local, national and global contexts.

Use appropriate vocabulary to think, talk, ask and answer big questions about religion and belief.

Begin to articulate key beliefs, practices and experiences at the heart of the religions and between communities.

Reflect on and respond to some of the big questions about life, such as ‘why do we celebrate certain things?’

By the end of Lower Key Stage 2 pupils should:

Reflect upon and make connections between their knowledge and understanding of some religions and worldviews, developing religious vocabulary.

Examine the different views and shared ideas about religious experience in religions and worldviews.

Understand the impact of faith on believers within local, national and global contexts.

Demonstrate respect and compassion, recognising a range of viewpoints about identity and belonging.

Explore shared human responsibility through enquiry and experience and express personal reflections and curiosity about ultimate questions.

Consider and discuss important issues and moral choices.

By the end of Upper Key Stage 2 pupils should:

Connect their knowledge and understanding of some religions and worldviews, reflecting on these, using specific religious vocabulary.

Analyse different viewpoints within and between religions and beliefs.

Understand the impact of faith on believers within local, national and global contexts.

Demonstrate respect and compassion responding to diverse viewpoints about belonging, meaning and truth.

Explore shared human responsibility and values through enquiry and experience, and express personal reflections with increasing curiosity.

Identify the importance of moral choices, selecting examples and giving reasons to support their ideas.