At Oaklands Junior School, we recognise the significant role the RE curriculum has to play in developing pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Discovery RE, as our adopted scheme of work, promotes respect and open-mindedness towards others with different faiths and beliefs (values taught through our Philosophy for Children curriculum) and encourages pupils to develop their sense of identity and belonging through self-awareness and reflection.
The intent of our RE curriculum is to engage pupils in an enquiry-based approach, in line with Oaklands as a Thinking School, where they can develop an understanding and appreciation of principle religions and worldviews in the local, national and wider global community, thus incorporating British Values.
Discovery RE states:
“Our belief is that, using an enquiry-based model well, children’s critical thinking skills can be developed, their motivation to learn increased, and their knowledge and understanding of, and empathy with people and their beliefs, religious or otherwise, will be enhanced. This approach takes very seriously the philosophy that children are free to make their own choices and decisions concerning religion and belief. RE does not try to persuade but rather to inform and develop the skills with which evaluation can take place.”
By the time pupils leave Oaklands the aim is to provide all children with high quality teaching that will help them reach their potential and fulfil all the aspects of the Oakland’s Mindset (ambition, independence, friendship, enjoyment, challenge, communication).
A lot of work was done on RE between 2015 and 2017 by the subject leader and the school. The subject leader feels satisfied that we are able to teach good and solid Subject Knowledge in the curriculum given within the Scheme, Discovery RE. The work we put in between 2015 and 2017 was concentrated and helped with the implementation and impact of RE in the school.
The R.E. curriculum in each class is taught in half hours lessons, once a week for 6 weeks, and over the year covers three Christianity units and three units from one other religion. Year 3, Sikhism; Year 4, Judaism; Year 5 Hinduism and Year 6 Islam. We aim to incorporate other religions and non-religious world views within these lessons as it comes up in discussions, and by giving pupils time to think about and apply their own thoughts and beliefs as part of Personal Knowledge and Ways of Knowing.
Taken each morning for 15 minutes, with a half hour singing assembly on Friday. Up until July 2019 we had a music specialist who took the children for singing assembly and instilled in them a love of singing. For the last two years, Year group teachers take the singing assemblies, bringing to them a variety of music from all genres.
Our Christian based assemblies are mainly brought to us from outside connections. We are fortunate to have the vicar and children’s workers from St Sebastians church who come in and deliver assemblies on a half termly basis. We have also had the pastor from Crowthorne Baptist visit half termly, until he left the position, moving away. We hope in the future to have the new pastor offer the same assemblies. The RE lead often takes assemblies based on teaching the children popular bible stories as on the whole, it has been found that children do not know these.
Harvest assembly in the Autumn term, taken by Rev. Andrew Marsden from St Sebastians Church.
Carol service at St John’s Church led by one of the vicars from the church.
RE Special Projects
- 2015 whole school morning project. Based on the musical, The Passion, by Adrian Snell. Each class took a different song which depicts a different part of the Easter story. They spent the morning doing a variety of activities based on the song.
- 2016 Christmas Thinking Families Day. Each classroom was set up to look at a different part of the Christmas story. Children moved round rooms in their thinking family groups and did the activities based round that part of the story. In the afternoon they worked on individual creations of their choice to reflect on their understanding of the Christmas story. As a staff we then moderated these creations, assessing the pupils understanding into 1, 2, and 3.
- 2017 whole school write – ‘In the Upper Room’ Waiting to hear news after Jesus’ death. Based on the song, ‘He’s Alive’ by Don Fransico. The children wrote in the role of Peter. This was used as basis for a staff meeting moderating the children’s work and understanding.
- 2020 The Christmas story frieze. Each class made a painting of a part of the Christmas story. These were strapped to the gates of the school to create a frieze of the story. This was for the parents to see as, due to Covid restrictions, they were not allowed on site.
Staff Development 2017
- As a staff we have looked at the Christianity units particularly in relation to the difference between them and other religions, primarily:
- Title questions seem to ask for analysis and questioning of the religion itself. Eg. ‘Is the Christmas story true?’ Or, ‘Is Christianity still a strong religion 2000 years after Jesus was on Earth?’
- Other religions present basic facts.
Reasons for this:
- Difficulty in starting with a question
- Assumes basic knowledge in a Christian society
- This came to a head during Whole School Write on theme of Easter.
- Lack of knowledge of basic stories by children and teachers
- Staff meeting held – action points:
- Staff meeting to add a new layer to plans to include starter of teaching basic bible story (Christmas and Easter) each year.
- Resource bank of bible stories for lower and upper school, to include cartoon video clips of story.
- This was presented to the Governors as part of a Governor’s Curriculum meeting that I ran informing them about RE in general at Oaklands.
- A staff meeting was held to update staff on 2017 changes to Discovery RE.
- In a staff meeting whole school projects on Christmas and Easter were modified and adapted to fit to our school experience.
Oaklands Junior school children:
- will develop an understanding and appreciation of principle religions and worldviews
- will be able to think critically.
- Have an enhanced knowledge and understanding of, and empathy with people and their beliefs, religious or otherwise,
- Will have respect and open-mindedness towards others with different faiths and beliefs
- Have a sense of identity and belonging through self-awareness and reflection.
By the end of Year 6, Oaklands Junior school children can:
- recall facts about religions and explain differences in practice and interpretation within and between religions / belief systems.
Ways of Knowing
- weigh up evidence and different arguments / aspects relevant to the enquiry question and express my answer, supported with evidence / rationale.
- explain how the concept / belief resonates in their own lives and can also see this might be different for other people because of their religion/beliefs
- express their own thoughts having reflected on them in relation to other people’s.
Children with educational needs are supported as needed with help from staff or with differentiated work and make good progress. Parents have a right to withdraw children from RE lessons and assemblies and if this should happen those children are given appropriate work which will result in them learning values associated with the topic without the religious aspect.
Monitoring and Evidence
The impact of our implementation of the RE curriculum can be monitored in a number of ways: through learning walks and lesson observations; planning scrutiny; book study; pupil voice and teacher assessments.
The impact of wider events such as church service at Christmas can be shown by the number of children willing to take part in choir, bible readings and presenting a musical item; and the Harvest service by the rich quality of the work presented. In both these services and in assemblies in general the children show a love of singing that is unique to Oaklands School.
Next Steps for monitoring progress
- RE lead to be present at special day events such as Diwali festival in Year 5.
- To collaborate photos of these events.
- To review curriculum continuity and progression for Christianity units.
- To review assessment methods in line with the concept map to ensure the intent is being met.
- To conduct another whole school RE experience, (see Implementation – Special projects 2016), for moderation purposes across the school.