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William Patten Primary School
Stoke Newington Church Street
London N16 0NX

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RE Curriculum Policy

Intent
The school follows the Hackney Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in accordance with Hackney’s ‘Standing Advisory Council of Religious Education’ (SACRE).  In accordance with the agreed syllabus, Religious Education at William Patten:

  • Is open and objective. It does not seek to urge religious beliefs on young people, nor compromise the integrity of their own religious position by promoting one tradition over another.
  • Endeavours to promote a positive attitude toward people, respecting their right to hold different beliefs from their own.
  • Promotes the values and attitudes necessary for citizenship in a multi-faith and multi-racial society through developing understanding of, respect for, and dialogue with people of different beliefs, practices, races and cultures.
  • Recognises similarities and differences in commitment, self-understanding and the search for truth. Respecting and valuing these for the common good.
  • Is not the same as collective worship, which has its own place in the educational life of the school, contributing to an informed, reflective, compassionate and caring school community.
  • Promotes community cohesion through linking with partner schools through involvement with the Faith & Belief Forum.
  • Recognises and celebrates the range of cultures and diversity of the school through workshops, assemblies and shared experiences of staff, children and people from the local community.

The RE curriculum at William Patten is organised to support the development of children’s knowledge of religious and non-religious beliefs and worldviews, practices and ways of life and enable children to make links between these.  It also develops children’s knowledge and understanding of the different members of our rich and diverse community.  Knowledge and skills are supported by first-hand experiences, including visits to local places of worship and visits from faith communities.  Knowledge and skills are mapped to support children’s understanding of religion and faith.  The RE curriculum is also designed to support positive attitudes and values, and encourage children to reflect and relate learning to their own experience.  Children learn that there are those who do not hold religious beliefs and have their own philosophical perspectives, as part of its commitment to ensure mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths.

The syllabus recommends that any themes or ‘Big Questions’ are explored by investigating and reflecting on the responses of more than one religion or belief system.  All the Hackney units therefore include an exploration of these themes or big questions through different perspectives. For example, the Big Question of ‘How Did the World Begin?’ in the year 6 unit is investigated through a variety of religious responses, including the Humanist response.  Each unit encourages and promotes the contemplation of key concepts or themes within religions and comparing these with responses in other faiths, religions and belief systems.

The syllabus has been created in a cyclical format to enable children to revisit and build on prior knowledge of the different beliefs and practices taught across the school.

Hackney SACRE promote RE and Collective Worship in the Borough, develop the good teaching of Religious Education in schools and support community cohesion. At William Patten, we are committed to providing our children with an exciting and positive learning environment, in which they have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of religions to support their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Implementation
RE is taught in a weekly topic block each half term (autumn 1 – summer 1).  Coverage is planned to link with key dates and religious festivals to provide opportunities to celebrate festivals and religions with greater consistency and contextual relevance.  Work is recorded in topic books and is evidenced with a variety of outcomes, including written pieces, artwork and photographs.

Some units in the scheme of work are colour coded to indicate explicit cross-curricular links within each topic (blue – history, green – geography, yellow – science, pink – festivals).  In addition to this, teachers identify, plan for and utilise further cross-curricular links which are stated on the school’s ‘RE Knowledge and Skills Progression Map’.  As children progress through the programme of study, they are able to look deeper into spiritual, ethical, moral and social issues and with increasing breadth across different religions and worldviews through time and around the world.  Learning is planned and sequenced to support pupils in building an ever-increasing picture over time, constantly building their knowledge and understanding of key subject knowledge and specialist vocabulary around concepts focusing on Believing, Living and Thinking.  This ensures that the investigation, exploration and reflection of their own and others’ responses to ‘Big Questions’ can continuously increase in depth, breadth and complexity.  As pupils move through the Religious Education curriculum and the ‘Big Questions’ increase in complexity, depth and breadth, the expectations of pupils to explain ‘what’ the beliefs, practices and values are and the relationships between them, as well as explaining ‘why’ these are important and may make a difference to people, and ‘how’ they relate, change or impact on a wider world view also increases.

‘Big Questions’ relate to: What people believe and do (Believing), how people respond to big questions and issues (Thinking) and how beliefs and values make a difference to lives (Living).

Therefore, the enquiry learning continuously builds to enable achievement the stated skills end points for each year.   These are based on the SACRE ‘Religious Education Skills Spectrum’ which itself reflects studies not only in pupils’ development in mental capacity (including Bloom’s Taxonomy and Maslow’s “progression of needs”) and also uses models for behavioural and moral development (C Graves), as well as research into spiritual development.  Using these models, the skills end points can be divided into four key developmental stages, beginning with ‘concrete’ and ‘fundamental’ understanding, progressing to ‘cognitive’ and ‘creative’ thinking, moving towards ‘critical’ reflection and analysis and thinking with ‘synergy’.  The teaching of RE and the formation of the enquiry questions based on the Believing, Thinking and Living strands of the units are pitched to match these developmental stages, so that pupils can achieve the learning outcomes specified in this Spectrum appropriate for their age expectation.

Each new unit of work begins with a recap of the previous related knowledge from previous years.  This helps children to retrieve what they have learnt in the earlier sequence of the programme of study, and ensures that new knowledge is taught in the context of previous learning to promote a shift in long term memory.  Key vocabulary for the new topic is also introduced as part of this ‘unit introduction’ and children are shown the ‘Topic Vocabulary (TV) Mat.  This provides definitions and accompanying visuals for each word to ensure accessibility to all.  This approach also means that children are able to understand the new vocabulary when it is used in teaching and learning activities and apply it themselves when they approach their work.

The KWL process is used throughout each unit of work. Once children know the new vocabulary for the unit and how it relates to previous learning, the children are asked what they already know specifically about the new topic.  This provides the teacher with an insight into the children’s ‘starting points’ for the topic, to enable the use of assessment to inform planning.  The children are then also asked what they would like to know and class responses are collated and used to inform the programme of study to ensure an aspect of ‘focussed interest planning’.  A record of this process kept in children’s topic books. At the end of the topic, children take part in a review of what they now know.  This involves a review of the key knowledge, with reference to the TV (knowledge) mat.  The teacher is then able consolidate any of the key knowledge which is identified at this part of the process as not yet being secure.

Within all lessons, teachers plan a phase of progressive questioning which extends to and promotes the higher order thinking of all learners.  Questions initially focus on the recall or retrieval of knowledge.  Questions then extend to promote application of the knowledge in a new situation and are designed to promote analytical thinking, such as examining something specific.  In design and technology, an example of this level of questioning might ask children to consider how a mechanical system (such as gears and pulleys) might speed up, slow down or change the direction of movement.  The questions that teachers ask within the same lesson phase, then focus on the children’s own work and how they might change or create an outcome and justify a choice they have made which is based on their evaluation.

Hackney SACRE continues to work with teachers in improving the quality of teaching and learning of RE by providing training, and publishing updated schemes of work and materials and guidance to develop and support SMSC, Assessment for Learning and effective teaching and learning strategies.  The school is also involved with the Faith & Belief Forum as a means to enable link days between the children of William Patten and a local faith school to ensure that children develop a mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith. The classes involved in the link later disseminate their work across the school to ensure the promotion of this fundamental value.

Impact
Alongside a whole school approach to celebrating different religious and cultural celebrations, the RE curriculum provides the means to celebrate the diversity of the school community and promote positive images of people in the wider community, including their beliefs, traditions, culture, language and history.  It ensures that children develop spiritually, academically, emotionally and morally to promote and realise a better understanding of themselves and others and to equip with the opportunities, challenges and responsibilities of living in a rapidly changing, multicultural world.  As well as outcomes of work in children’s books, children’s understanding of religion and the ability to respond creatively to religious themes is also evidenced during the annual calendar competition.  The printed outcome features a wide range of work from the children of William Patten and supports in raising the profile of religious education both across the school and borough.

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