Religious Education at Whiteheath Infant and Nursery School
“Every child deserves an RE curriculum that is academically challenging and personally inspiring” (Nat. Curric. Framework For RE)
Religious Education (RE) gives children valuable insights into the diverse beliefs & opinions held by people today. It helps with their own personal development and supports an understanding of the spiritual, moral, social & cultural questions that surface again & again in their lives.
Religious Education is both learning about and from religion. Our RE curriculum is knowledge based; designed to help children increase their understanding of religious concepts but it also helps them to explore their own personal beliefs and values.
Children are taught what it means to have faith; they acquire and develop knowledge about different faiths and learn to respect and value people’s right to their own faith.
Children learn about what people believe about God, how people show their beliefs in their daily lives and how people explain what they believe & understand using symbols and stories. This helps children to make sense of who they are, start to consider big life questions and develop their sense of right & wrong.
RE helps to develop skills such as questioning, investigation, communication, evaluation and the ability to make reasoned and informed judgments. RE lessons are an opportunity for children to have their views challenged and to develop their critical view. They learn to weigh up the value of wisdom from different sources, to develop and express their insights in response, and to agree or disagree respectfully.
Schools are obliged by law to teach RE. Our RE curriculum is informed by the Hillingdon SACRE Syllabus which is based upon the National Curriculum Framework for RE and reflects the religious profile of our local school community. This is largely Christian, as well as a significant number of Hindu and Muslim families. Teaching endorses the school’s values of respect, tolerance, rules, choice and individuality, which in turn reflect British Values.
Our Whiteheath RE Road Map demonstrates how children progress in knowledge and skills from year to year.
RE in EYFS
In the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception), children explore their own thoughts, feelings and beliefs and are introduced to those of other people. The children’s own experiences are the starting point for learning; children ask and answer questions about religion and culture as they occur naturally within their everyday experiences. They reflect on their own feelings and experiences and share them with others, such as how they celebrate Diwali, Eid, Christmas, or a family wedding.
Children begin to explore the world of religion in terms of special people, books, times, places and objects and by visiting places of worship. They explore faith through stories, pictures, role play and discussion. They handle real artefacts and respond creatively through dance, drama, art and music.
Children are introduced to religious words where appropriate and use their senses in exploring religions and beliefs, practices and forms of expression. Children are encouraged use their imagination and curiosity in order to develop their appreciation and wonder of the world in which they live. They talk about some of the ways that people show love and concern for others and why this is important. They think about issues of right and wrong and how people help one another.
RE in Key Stage 1
In Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), RE is taught for is 5% of school curriculum time. This equates, on average, to 45-60 minutes per week, although it may sometimes be taught in blocked units. Each half term has a different theme, using a question as a starting point. The key questions for each unit of learning are shown in the chart below. Lessons develop ideas sequentially related to the theme, encouraging children to develop their thinking, explore and express their ideas about that particular question.
Opportunities to revisit prior learning, and to embed long term knowledge and understanding, are built into the RE programme and are particularly drawn together at the end of KS1 in a final reflective unit. Making links between religions is encouraged, using themes and broad questions to explore similarities and differences in a spiralling and interleaved curriculum model. Key religious festivals are taught according to their calendar occurrence where possible.
To embed learning in a broader context, cross curricular links are sought. For example, in Y2 Hinduism is used as a topic driver for the half term focus on India. Or the Easter story in Y2 and Parables in Y1 are incorporated into opportunities for literacy teaching.
In addition to building knowledge, skills and personal values, teachers also use experiential and creative opportunities to enrich RE learning. For example, writing poems about the experience of candlelight, using drama to make stories come alive or using music/art to enhance an appreciation of the gift of the natural world and to express how they feel.
We use local community resources where possible – including visits to local places of worship (such as St Martin’s Church and the local Mandir). Visitors are invited to come to school to talk about their faith, values and way of life, including parents and religious community leaders/youth workers.
As a Thinking School, we use metacognition techniques such as talking about different “Habits of Mind “(e.g. thinking flexibly or posing questions) to help children be more independent learners. We use “Thinking Maps” and “Thinking Hats” to help children organise their learning and develop their skills. We also use community based philosophical enquiry (P4C) as a means of encouraging wider thinking and exploring concepts in RE, working together to build understanding.
RE at Whiteheath helps children to build a positive sense of self. It increases awareness, tolerance and respect of religious and cultural diversity and helps children to form their own ideas about belonging, meaning and truth. In short, preparing them for future citizenship in a modern diverse society.