"Religious education in a Church school should enable every child to flourish and to live life in all its fullness. (John 10:10). It will help educate for dignity and respect, encouraging all to live well together."
Church of England's Statement of Entitlement for Religious Education
As a Church of England school, the main focus of Religious Education (RE) at St Mary’s is the Christian faith that underpins the ethos and values of our school community. However, we also take time to learn about other religions and worldviews, fostering understanding and respect for them.
At St Mary's, we make regular references to our four core values when learning about the religions of the world:
Hope gives us energy and supports us through difficult times.
"Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time.’’ Romans 12:12
To act with hope is to aspire to greater things, to promote positivity and courageous advocacy.
In learning about different religions, we can see evidence of faith being driven by hope, as people from all backgrounds seek guidance and reassurance when navigating the highs and lows of human existence.
We know that together we are stronger and can achieve more.
"Live together in peace with each other. Don’t be proud, but be willing to be friends with people who are not important to others. Don’t think of yourself as smarter than everyone else.’’ Romans 12:16
All human beings need family, companionship, belonging. In our lessons, we examine the religious structures, celebrations and traditions that have developed over time to allow people to feel valued, needed and part of a community.
We believe through wisdom good choices are made, that it encourages us to learn from our mistakes and encourages us to live our lives wisely for the benefit of all.
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’’ John 8:32
In learning about different religions, we can identify how people across the world articulate and subsequently go on to lead 'a good life'. We identify both similarities and differences between them and marvel at the importance of commonality between human beings.
We believe that all life is precious within the image of God and deserves to be valued. "Do to others as you would have them do unto you." Luke 6:31
Our Christian value of respect means living up to the image of God with our school, our community and ourselves.
In learning about a range of religious beliefs, we broaden our understanding and tolerance of others. We can respect their views and traditions and celebrate the colour and diversity that this brings to our world.
Through RE, we seek to give our children a rich variety of experiences from which they can develop knowledge, understanding and awareness of all faiths. RE also has a significant role in the development of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding. It promotes respect and open-mindedness towards others with different faiths and beliefs. We encourage pupils to develop their sense of identity and belonging through self-awareness and reflection.
In line with the Church of England’s Statement of Entitlement (2019), we aim for all pupils:
· to know about and understand Christianity as a diverse global living faith through the exploration of core beliefs using an approach that critically engages with biblical text
· to gain knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and world views appreciating diversity, continuity and change within the religions and worldviews being studied
· to engage with challenging questions of meaning and purpose raised by human existence and experience
· to recognise the concept of religion and its continuing influence on Britain’s cultural heritage and in the lives of individuals and societies in different times, cultures and places
· to explore their own religious, spiritual and philosophical ways of living, believing and thinking.
We believe that it is vital for children to learn both from and about religion, so that they can understand the world around them. We encourage children at St Mary’s to ask questions about the world and to reflect on their own beliefs, values and experiences.
RE is an academic subject that has a high profile in our school curriculum. It is a priority for senior leaders who ensure that the teaching, learning and resourcing of RE is comparable with other core subjects.
We use the Guildford Diocesan Guidelines for Religious Education as the foundations of our curriculum. Within the context of the entire school curriculum, 5%-10% of time is dedicated to explicitly studying RE objectives in each year group.
We implement an enquiry model of learning, which helps pupils to deepen their understanding in RE and make secure connections as well as utilising higher-level thinking skills. Our enquiry planning in RE follows the format Engage/ Enquire & Explore/ Evaluate/ Express. This format:
- starts by engaging the pupils in their learning
- they are given opportunities to explore, wonder, respond, make links with their personal experiences, and build upon previous learning
- allows pupils time to gather information and draw conclusions before asking them to reflect and apply their learning
- enables pupils to reconsider and extend their initial thinking as they begin to see new levels of possibility
- allows pupils to use and express their creativity and imagination.
Our Religious Education curriculum is enhanced further with trips to places of worship in our local area and visits to the school by experts who support the learning experience. In addition, we have a close relationship with locally-based charity, Wintershall Education, which hosts high quality learning days and performances including ‘The Life of Christ’.
Experiences and enrichment opportunities include:
- handling artefacts
- exploring sacred texts and critically engaging with texts
- using imaginative play or drama to express feelings and ideas
- responding to images, games, stories, art, music and dance
- fostering close links with our local St Mary’s Church community
- making visits to religious places of worship
- taking part in school events- (Black History Month, Harvest Festival, school performances at Christmas and Easter, Remembrance Service at the memorial locally)
- participating in moments of quiet reflection using prayer stations and reflection areas (especially during dedicated Pause Days)
- participating in Open the Book assemblies, Class Reflection times,
- comparing religions and world views through discussion.
Our Religious Education Curriculum is well thought-out and is planned to demonstrate progression. Teachers assess against success criteria learning about and from religion by capturing pupil discussions about their learning, reflecting on standards achieved against the planned outcomes and celebrating learning as a project using the mediums of art, dance or drama. Our Religious Education Lead monitors the teaching, learning and progression of RE each term.
We also use tools provided by the Diocese of Guildford to assist with progression, including a Ladder of Progression and a table outlining the end of phase expectations with skills.
The children at St Mary’s Church of England Primary School enjoy learning about Christianity and other faiths and have a good knowledge and understanding of the importance of religion in people’s lives. Through RE, our children are developing an understanding of other people’s cultures and ways of life and worship, making connections and critically engaging with texts to help them to understand the big questions of life.