Why is RE important?
All primary schools need to “raise the status of RE” (Ofsted) and provide an RE curriculum which promotes respect and empathy. RE is considered to be an important part of a child’s education, especially their early education, because it allows young people to develop their beliefs and values. It helps children understand the place of religion and belief in the world. The teaching of RE is also important because it contributes educationally to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all pupils, whether or not they are from a religious tradition.
Which world religions do we study?
From Year 1 through to Year 6, our children are taught a variety of the world religions. These include Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism and Humanism. Over the course of the academic year, each year group in both Key Stage One and Key Stage Two covers at least four of the religions. Within this, they study a particular topic, theme or festival associated with that religion. During the following years, children will revisit the religions but will unpick another aspect of it. For example, in Year 4 children study Islam and focus on ‘The Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad’. These children will then revisit Islam in Year 5 studying ‘The Mosque and Islam Community’ before covering Islam, ‘Hajj and Id-Ul-Adha’, for the final time in Year 6. Throughout both Key Stages children are given the opportunity to not only learn about the individual religions but are encouraged to discuss and think about their similarities and differences with other religions at the same time.
How do we make cross-curricular links?
When planning lessons, teachers at Shoreditch Park consider other subjects and endeavour to make cross-curricular links. For example, long writing tasks are often incorporated into lessons so that children have an opportunity to write down their ideas, opinion and views in a structured task (diary entries, letters or even stories). Teachers also encourage drama work to reinforce teaching points and to allow children to express themselves about a particular topic. These drama activities can increase pupil confidence, allow ‘pupil voice’ and provide valuable opportunities for personal and spiritual exploration.
What is special about RE at Shoreditch Park?
We aim for our RE curriculum to provide children with challenging questions about the meaning of life, including global issues. We do this by promoting civilised debate and in-depth discussions.
Teachers have access to a range of religious artefacts to support their lessons for each religion. We organise regular RE trips to different places of worship within our local area but also elsewhere in London (e.g. the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden). All of these opportunities are examples of how we provide our children with hands-on authentic experiences of the diversity of religion and how we value experiential learning and aim to enrich RE.
At Shoreditch Park we benefit from a very diverse faith school community. During our RE lessons, teachers offer opportunities for pupils to encounter an authentic voice of faith and belief. This means that we encourage dialogue between pupils and praise those who want to share their own unique and personal religious experiences. This is particularly beneficial when pupils teach their classmates about particular religious traditions or festivals. Here, our pupils become the “experts” and we believe that this can not only raise self-esteem but also give a positive image of each faith and enhance the quality of learning in RE. We can also welcome members of our school community, including parents and relatives, to come and speak to our classes about a particular RE topic.
How does RE help prepare the children for Secondary School?
It enables pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own. It thus helps our children to prepare for adult life, employment and lifelong learning