Religious Education Curriculum Rationale
At Hillcrest Primary we are theologists! We want our children to love religious education. We want them to have no limits to what their ambitions are and grow up wanting to be anthropologists, lecturers or social workers! We want them to embody our core values. We all believe that: “All children learn and discover together to create a better world”. The RE curriculum has been carefully crafted so that our children develop their SMSC capital. We want our children to remember their RE lessons in our school, to cherish these memories and embrace the opportunities they are presented with! For example some of our Year 3 children took a trip to the Synagogue in Bristol. They learnt all about the symbol of the Star of David and the Menorah candles. The children were shown some slides explaining about some parts of Judaism and shown a special area where the special Torah scrolls are kept. They had a close look at one of the scrolls: it takes 18 months to write out by hand using ink and a quill. There are so many activities that go on in the synagogue. Just before we finished our visit, our hosts shared some of their special Sabbath bread and grape juice with us. Everybody had a great time. Bringing RE alive is important at Hillcrest Primary School.
The religious education curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas.
We want to equip them with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the religious education National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. For example, our children took part in a live debate between leaders of different faiths and non-faiths, including a humanist, an Imam, who leads Muslim worshippers in prayer at our local mosque and a Buddhist religious leader. The children were fascinated to hear how these influential members of our community expressed their believes and were genuinely interested in each other’s points of view. We are committed to putting religious education on the map here at Hillcrest Primary.
We want our children to use the vibrancy of our great city to learn from other cultures, respect diversity, co-operate with one another and appreciate what they have. We achieve this by providing a strong SMSC curriculum, with British Values and our core values placed at the heart of everything we do. This often feeds into the religious education curriculum. For example, in the autumn term Reception, Year 1, 2 and 3 took part in ‘Christmas in a Box’ as part of Bristol Schools Connection and led by one of our parents who is a church volunteer. The children thought about the question, What do Christians believe about the characters in the Christmas story? Learning from the Christmas story provided a simple, spiritual development and learning opportunity for our children of all faiths and none as they were invited to make their own meaning from the story and apply it to their own lives. The workshop was hands-on and it enriched the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development of the children by encouraging reflection, understanding and celebrating differences and respect for people who are different to them. What a great way to celebrate Christmas!
We enrich their time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities which are normally out of reach – this piques their interests and passions. For example, we were fortunate to have a virtual talk from a Baptist Minister, Elder Spencer. His principal role is the spiritual oversight of he church. He spoke to the children about pray and discussed issues such as the church’s teaching, it’s values and spiritual direction. He also highlighted the important of teamwork and that by working in this way everyone achieves more. This echoed one of our own values which is ‘partnership’.
We firmly believe that it is not just about what happens in the classroom, it is about the added value we offer to really inspire our children.
The religious education curriculum has been carefully built and the learning opportunities and assessment milestones for each year group crafted to ensure progression and repetition in terms of embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. At Hillcrest Primary School we follow SACRE, the agreed syllabus for Bristol. Children are taught to understand and respect the importance of religious beliefs in the world around them. The syllabus aims to allow pupils to explore themes and concepts within religion drawing on beliefs from a range of different faiths and world views. We aim to ensure that the RE curriculum is challenging, dynamic and relevant to pupils of all ages. – that is why an enquiry approach was implemented, encouraging higher-order thinking and allowing our children to explore in a way that is meaningful to them.
Religious education subject specific characteristics, which we expect the children to demonstrate, have been developed and shared with all stakeholders. These characteristics underpin all work in RE and form a focal point for display areas and provide a common subject specific vocabulary for staff and pupils.
Staff develop year group specific long-term curriculum maps which identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. The vast majority of subjects are taught discretely but staff make meaningful links across subjects. They link prior knowledge to new learning to deepen children’s learning. For example, our RE curriculum and SMSC curriculum are interlinked. Later this year the school will be celebrating a whole-school themed ‘World Religions’ week where the children will participate in a festival of activities based around the six main world religions. Our children are taught the right, connected knowledge.
Our short-term plans are produced on a weekly and daily basis. We use these to set out the learning objectives for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them.
We encourage staff to teach a weekly religious education lesson. This helps to ensure sufficient time is allocated to religious education and that the subject matter can be revisited frequently. We believe that by crafting our curriculum this way, we improve the potential for our children to retain what they have been taught, to alter their long-term memory and thus improve the rates of progress they make.
We use both formative and summative assessment information in order to inform our short-term planning. Our low stakes quizzes are efficient, effective and motivating for the pupils, whilst providing teachers with vital information about what the pupils have misunderstood or are struggling to remember. These questions can easily be recycled, utilising the spacing effect to ensure content is retained for the long term instead of being forgotten soon after the lesson. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our pupils, including the more able. The assessment milestones for each phase have been carefully mapped out and further broken down for each year group. This means that skills in religious education are progressive and build year on year.
Our staff use religious education formative assessment grids to systematically assess what the children know as the topic progresses and inform their future planning. These formative assessment grids then inform summative assessment judgements for each enquiry.
Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in religious education. A comprehensive monitoring cycle is developed at the beginning of each academic year. This identifies when monitoring is undertaken. Monitoring in religious education includes: pupil book, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil/parent and/or staff voice.
All of this information is gathered and reviewed. It is used to inform further curriculum developments and provision is adapted accordingly.
At Hillcrest Primary School, we are THEOLOGISTS!