Social, Moral, Spiritual & Cultural
At Westgate Primary School all children throughout the school, including SEN and disadvantaged, learn about the beliefs and themes of several different religions within the framework of the law:
Beliefs and themes
- A knowledge and understanding of the beliefs and practices of Christianity and the other principal religions represented in the United Kingdom.
- An understanding of the way religious beliefs can shape values and traditions for individuals, communities, societies and cultures, from the local to the global.
- The ability to make reasoned and informed judgements about religious and moral issues, with reference to the teachings of the principal religions represented in the UK.
- An awareness of the fundamental questions of life raised by human experiences and how religious teachings and beliefs can relate to them.
- Reflection on their own beliefs, values and experiences in the light of what they learn in RE with a positive attitude of respect towards other people who hold views and beliefs different from their own.
- An understanding of the need for tolerance and the challenging of prejudice towards people of different faiths through providing opportunities to develop an understanding of the value of living in a multicultural, multi-faith and multilingual society
- There are no presumptions made as to the religious backgrounds and beliefs and values of the children and the staff. We value the religious background of all members of the school community and hope that this will encourage individuals to share their own experiences with others freely. All religions and their communities are treated with respect and sensitivity and we value the links, which can be made between home, school, and different faith communities.
We promote teaching in Religious Education that stresses open enquiry and first-hand experiences wherever possible for both staff and children through the following broad themes which are applied to the following religions:
Learning about the beliefs and themes follows an enquiry-based model so that children’s critical thinking skills are developed, their motivation to learn is increased, and their knowledge and understanding of, and empathy with people and their beliefs, religious or otherwise, is enhanced. This takes place through a process of engagement, investigation, evaluation and expression. 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.
Religious education is a key player in engendering knowledge and understanding which can lead to tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs. By connecting our British Values through the teaching of RE, we explore issues that affect us all in our lives and this helps inform decisions that will shape our future for example, ‘rule of law’ where children are encouraged to think about the laws, commandments, expectations within a faith and how those rules would impact on their own lives as well as on the lives of the people within those religions. In Year 2, the enquiry, ‘Does praying at regular intervals every day help a Muslim in his/her daily life?’ gives the opportunity to explore the expectations and ritual surrounding prayer.
The Enquiry-based Approach
The key question for each enquiry demands an answer that weighs up ‘evidence’ and reaches a conclusion based on this. This necessitates children using their subject knowledge and applying it to the enquiry question, rather than this knowledge being an end in itself. The focus is on critical thinking skills, personal reflection into the child’s own thoughts and feelings, growing subject knowledge and nurturing spiritual development. The children then express their views and understanding in age appropriate ways. This will involve children using more sophisticated and deeper understanding when discussing and sharing their ideas. The enquiry and subsequent learning are made within the context of different religions.
The human experience underpinning the key question is explored here within the children’s own experience, whether that includes religion or not. If they can relate to the human experience they will be better able to understand the world of religion into which the enquiry takes them. Their personal resonance with this underpinning human experience acts as the BRIDGE into the world of religion (which may be very much outside of their experience).
For example, in a Year 1 unit about Christianity, children begin by exploring the question ‘Does God want Christians to look after the world?’ They can make connections from real life through initially discussing how they look after things and the importance of this before exploring the religious aspect of Christianity. This enables pupils to develop an understanding for when they progress into more abstract learning for example, in Year 3, children explore and discuss ‘Could Jesus really heal people?’
This element of learning is led by the teacher, as they guide the children through the enquiry. Children gain subject knowledge (the factual base about the religion), which is carefully selected to assist their thinking about the key question. Teachers encourage the children to explore their ideas to ensure there is an opportunity for deeper learning.
For example, following on from the engagement session, children would be shown real life images of the natural world and discuss questions such as how did this come about, where did it come from, was it created? This would be followed by a discussion about what Christians believe about the creation of the world.
This draws together the children’s learning and their conclusions about the key question of that enquiry. As part of this section the children would explore the key question again and then discuss their viewpoints.
For our Year 1 example, they would revisit the key question and then explore how Christians think God would feel about how the world is treated and why.
Expression: Children revisit their own experiences or initial feelings, to reflect on how this enquiry might have influenced their own starting point/beliefs, etc. They will develop their speaking and listening skills to give their own opinions and use examples form the learning to justify and support their opinions at an age appropriate stage.
For example, the Year 1 pupils would revisit and discuss how the world is precious and that we all need to look after it. The children would then express how they will now treat the world and how they think people should treat the world.