The Basis for Planning Quality Religious Education:

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3.1 The Four Aims of RE
  1. To understand the nature, role and influence of religion and worldviews, locally, nationally, and globally.
  2. To reflect on questions of meaning, purpose and value.
  3. To formulate reasoned opinion and argument.
  4. To enter into meaningful dialogue with people of different beliefs and backgrounds, appreciating and celebrating diversity, recognising what we hold in common, and respecting a shared humanity that can be experienced, expressed, and responded to in diverse ways.

These are developed in the following ways, which can be seen as ‘steps’ to achieve each aim:

1. To understand the nature, role and influence of religion and worldviews, locally, nationally, and globally by:

  • Developing knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other faiths, and worldviews (KS1 onwards).
  • Exploring similarities and differences between the religions and worldviews (KS1 onwards).
  • Considering the nature and interpretation of sources of authority in Christianity, other faiths and worldviews (Lower KS2 onwards).
  • Exploring similarities and differences within religions and worldviews (Lower KS2 onwards).
  • Understanding what it means to belong to a religious community and the influence religious faith has on individuals and communities (Upper KS2 onwards).
  • Considering the way religious teaching and practice relate to ultimate questions (Upper KS2 onwards).
  • Evaluating the benefits and challenges of living in a multi-faith and diverse society; (KS3 onwards).
  • Developing the ability to analyse and think critically about religious and other beliefs and practices and different interpretations of these (KS3 onwards).
  • Analysing and evaluating the significance of religion and worldviews in the modern world (KS4 onwards).

2. To reflect on questions of meaning, purpose, and value by:

  • Reflecting on the significance of their own and others’ personal experience and emotion (KS1 onwards).
  • Thinking about what influences our beliefs and lifestyle and the way we see things (Lower KS2 onwards).
  • Exploring different religious and non-religious beliefs about meaning, purpose and value (Upper KS2 onwards).
  • Raising and exploring the ultimate questions which arise from these (Upper KS2 onwards).
  • Reflecting on and expressing their own responses to ultimate questions in the light of their own and others experiences and beliefs (KS3 onwards)
  • Analysing and evaluating the impact these responses can have in the world (KS4 onwards)

3. To formulate reasoned opinion/argument by:

  • Gaining the necessary knowledge and understanding to give informed opinions with reasons (KS1 onwards).
  • Developing the skills of questioning (KS1 onwards) and reasoning (Lower KS2 onwards).
  • Developing the ability to see things from other peoples’ perspective (Upper KS2 onwards).
  • Evaluating the influence of beliefs on attitudes and behaviour (KS3 onwards).
  • Developing skills of interpretation, argumentation, and justification (KS3 onwards).
  • Developing the ability to analyse and evaluate strengths and weaknesses in arguments/ stances (KS4 onwards).

4. In achieving these three aims, pupils will be better able to enter into meaningful dialogue with people of different beliefs and ways of living.

Note - General skills such as enquiry, analysis, reasoning are developed age-appropriately at all key stages.

3.2 The Learning Process for ‘Challenging RE’
classroom picture

This Agreed Syllabus is built around a vision of education in which the core purpose is our development as human beings. This learning process enables schools to plan learning that meets many of the recommendations for teaching ‘Religion and Worldviews’ found in the Commission on Religious Education (CoRE) report (2018).

These include the aims and purposes where it states that religion and worldviews “is more than learning facts… it is about understanding the human quest for meaning, being prepared for life in a diverse world and having space to reflect on one’s own worldview” (CoRE report page 73).

It also places emphasis on developing skills that enable young people to:

  • Reflect on their own personal responses to the fundamental human questions to which worldviews respond,
  • Learn to articulate these responses clearly and cogently while respecting the right of others to differ,
  • Develop skills relevant to various disciplinary approaches,
  • Develop wider transferable skills and dispositions.

(CoRE report page 77)

The following learning process lies at the heart of Challenging RE. Learning in RE involves helping pupils make sense of life. Learning about religions, beliefs and ways of living is the vehicle through which they develop their understanding of themselves, others and the world.

The learning process involves a journey with three possible starting points (see diagram on page 16):

  1. What does it mean to be me?   Pupils’ own experience and self-concept,
  2. What does it mean to be you?   Religious/worldview experience, concepts and content,
  3. What does it mean to be human?   Universal human experience and concepts.

The teacher can decide which aspect is the best entry-point to the enquiry for the pupils and/or what they will be learning. The model incorporates skills-development and progression. The skills running along the outside of the arrows are described for each Key Stage, thus providing a means of progression. Teachers use these to plan challenging learning. Thus, at KS1 the process will be basic and will become more complex and challenging as pupils progress through school.

Pupils will grow to recognise how we are all different, yet we share our humanity in common (what we refer to as ‘identity-in-difference’), so that through their exploration of religious and non-religious worldviews, they will develop their own understanding of what it means to be human and their own sense of meaning, purpose and value in relation to others.

The Learning Process within Challenging RE

Learning and growing through Challenging RE (academic rigour and personal development)

Learning can start from any of the three questions:learning process

  • What does it mean to be human? - Universal human experience and concepts
  • What does it mean to be me? - Pupils experience and self concept
  • What does it mean to be you? - Religious / world views, content, experience and concepts
3.3 Concepts in RE

Concepts are key ideas that shape our understanding. In RE, these relate to how we understand or make sense of life – for example, identity; purpose; value. So in RE, concepts relate to experience – to the lives of children, young people and communities and involve our attitudes to life as well as ideas and beliefs.

Concepts are complex, expressing deeply held feelings, beliefs, convictions, dispositions, and identities and these can be expressed in different ways, which include some or all of:

  • Language 
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Ritual
  • Dance
  • Symbol

These are outward expressions of deeper experience and meaning and can be explored through the use of key questions and through an exploration of key concepts. This approach, which we refer to as conceptual creativity provides a method for looking more deeply at concepts that are contained in ritual, belief, identity, and experience.

In order to help map concepts in RE, they are often divided into three categories.

Recently, there has been much interest in and research into disciplinary approaches to RE. These form a fourth category of ‘disciplinary concepts’ that can be seen as ways into exploring religions and worldviews. (See Appendix 3)

  1. Universal human concepts.
  2. General religious concepts.
  3. Religion-specific concepts.
  4. Disciplinary concepts.
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