What is Religious Education?
"The evolution of society’s religious and non-religious landscape highlights that it is all the more important for pupils to build up accurate knowledge of the complexity and diversity of global religion and non-religion."
Ofsted Research review series: religious education,
Religious Education at Little Sutton is taught in accordance with the Birmingham Agreed Syllabus of 2022 and takes account of the Education Reform Act of 1988
(ref. p9 on the Agreed Syllabus). It also takes account of the Birmingham Curriculum Statement and the Birmingham Equal Opportunities policy.
The Agreed Syllabus has to ‘reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are, in the main, Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain.’ The Birmingham approach is designed to be inclusive for all children across our super-diverse city enabling each one to be respected and understood. The intent of Birmingham’s character-driven approach is to encourage the development of 24 dispositions, or values. The dispositions were created and agreed unanimously by the conference members, sixty people from the locality of Birmingham who were appointed by Birmingham City Council at an Agreed Syllabus Conference. Meeting for tens of hours over an extended period, this conference undertook the sensitive task of reviewing the Religious Education Syllabus for the children and young people of our Birmingham. Working towards unanimous agreement, debate ensued between the diverse representatives, the composition of conference being determined by Law. The dispositions derive from a number of sources including the Cardinal Virtues from the Classical tradition, Theological Virtues and Religious Practice. They are equally applicable to, and inclusive of, the religious, those who have an established non-religious world view and those classing themselves as ‘nones’. Importantly the dispositions were created by conference members representing all these groups and are therefore ‘religious and non-religious’.
Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, September 2022
Our intention for delivering Religious Education are those identified in the Agreed Syllabus taking into account the appropriate aims and ethos of the school, i.e. to provide a stimulating, challenging, caring environment in which children will flourish by acquiring knowledge, developing skills and understanding with an ability to apply these acquisitions to a wide range of situations.
The dispositions both define and promote a flourishing personal, spiritual and moral character. Examples of the dispositions include, ‘Living By Rules’ and ‘Creating Unity And Harmony’. Such dispositions are the starting point for all study in Religious Education, the order and complexity in which they are presented being influenced by child development. A universal perspective is adopted as the starting point for understanding each disposition, gradually exposing pupils to a growing number of Religious Traditions and Non-Religious Worldviews as pupils engage with
the dispositions. The dispositions encourage pupils to think about, and act upon, a growing understanding of their own faith or viewpoint, whilst acknowledging their neighbour’s perspective.
The Birmingham Agreed Syllabus is particularly appropriate for a twenty-first century education where quality is defined in terms of an education which is cohesive rather than fragmented, developing children holistically to become happy, confident and ambitious. Understanding and living out the dispositions has positive effects on children’s wellbeing and mental health.
During pupils’ first few years in school, they are progressively introduced to the dispositions. Subsequently, they re-visit all 24 with increasing depth, enabling a growing sophistication of spiritual and moral character, disposition by disposition, and a growing knowledge of religious traditions and non-religious worldviews. Each time a disposition is encountered, the traditions of one faith or a number of faiths and non-religious worldviews are used to resource the learning. A sacred scripture, religious practice, rite of passage, an institution, piece of literature, art or music can equally trigger learning.
Rather than starting studies from the perspective of a religion or worldview, in Birmingham the dispositions are the starting point, enabling a universal viewpoint to be shared and understood before extending study to points of agreement, and distinctiveness, through four dimensions of learning.
These dimensions are;
Learning from Experience,
Learning about Religious Traditions and Non-Religious Worldviews,
Learning from Faith and Non-Religious Worldviews and
Learning to Discern.
The dimensions will assist pupils in developing skills to consider issues, not only from their own perspective but also from an analytical viewpoint.
The syllabus includes the nine religious traditions recorded to have significant representation within Birmingham: Bahá’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Rastafari and Sikhism, and established non-religious worldviews such as Atheism, Humanism and Secularism. It responds to the experience of the growing number of pupils whose families identify as ‘nones’.
The syllabus acknowledges this complete spectrum of beliefs and views and all are accorded equal respect. The use of the syllabus will ensure a Religious Education that complies with the legal requirements.
The 24 Dispositions Pupils’ learn in this syllabus is guided by encouraging 24 dispositions, values or facets of character. Taken together, the dispositions constitute a person’s spiritual and moral character.
The origins of the 24 Dispositions include:
• The Cardinal Virtues from the Classical tradition of wisdom, justice, courage and temperance.
• The so-called Theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.
• Religious practice, theological considerations and philosophical practice.
‘Appreciating Beauty’ is inspired by the beauty of Holiness in addition to Plato’s concept of the One that embraces Truth, Beauty and The Good.
‘Living by Rules’ is inspired by The Noahide Laws, viewed by scholars throughout the ages as a link between Judaism and Christianity, but agreed by the non-religious to espouse universal norms for ethical conduct- these are the basis of both British and International law.
Equally, ‘Sharing and Being Generous’, particularly within Islam as one of the five pillars, can be found in many other religious and non-religious traditions as a response on a spiritual and human level to supporting others in need, encapsulating fundamental human rights for all.
The study of the dispositions is centered on continuing reference to our represented religions and non-religious worldviews. Such study evolves over time, respecting a pupil’s own stage of development.
Following the Birmingham approach to Religious Education, pupils will develop:
Intellectually (or cognitively):
• Through developing knowledge and understanding of religious traditions and non-religious worldviews;
• by evaluating and reflecting on these in the light of their own experiences; • by developing informed judgment. Emotionally (or affectively): • through having their feelings deepened;
• by acknowledging, and responding to, shared human experiences, such as joy, grief, thankfulness, care;
• by expressing any personal reflection, which could include the spiritual or religious in words, or through other media.
Behaviourally (or conatively):
• through being encouraged to act responsibly;
• by cultivating widely recognised values and virtues such as honesty and integrity;
• by being motivated to act upon their new-found understanding.
The nine religious traditions identified as being those with the greatest number of adherents in Birmingham at the last census available at the time of writing are represented in the syllabus.
They are in alphabetical order:
The syllabus also exemplifies the dispositions through reference to a range of established non-religious worldviews. Regularly used examples, alphabetically listed, include:
The time given to the teaching of R.E. is: -
20 hours per year KS1
20 hours per year KS2
Ambitious End Points
Children will leave Little Sutton with both the religious knowledge and understanding of the dispositions they need for further study and later life. They will be equipped to ask questions, be curious and empathetic about the wider world. This will be demonstrated by children being assessed as meeting at least age related expectations and being able to read, write and discuss the complete spectrum of beliefs and views using relevant vocabulary and demonstrate that all are accorded equal respect.
RECORDING, ASSESSMENT AND REPORTING
The assessment process uses the formative assessment through discussion, written response and observations.
End of Key Stage descriptors will be used for reporting. Progress in Religious Education is reported to parents as is legally required.
Resources for teaching Religious Education at Little Sutton are identified on the lesson plans from SACRE. Additional physical resources are stored within the Key Stage 1 hall.
Most teachers undertake the teaching of R.E. to their own class. However it may occur that in a particular year group, one teacher may undertake the teaching of R.E. If this occurs the Headteacher and the R.E. lead are informed.
Parents are invited into school to talk to the children about their faith and experiences in conjunction with R.E. topics within year groups.
The Religious Education curriculum is designed to be accessible to all pupils. We are ambitious for all our SEND pupils and will make any reasonable adjustments to support pupils overcoming barriers by having a clear understanding of their needs. Pupils will be given careful individual and/or group support to secure the knowledge they need to continue to access content. Activities will be broken down into smaller steps to support pupils of lower ability in Religious Education. Resources are modified and used imaginatively to support learning.
The computing curriculum at Little Sutton is accessible to all pupils, regardless of race, gender, class, culture or disability. All pupils will be given equal opportunities to develop their historical learning capabilities to their full potential. Where visits or workshops are planned, consideration will be given to the accessibility of the activities for all children, to prevent any discrimination as laid down by the Disability Act.
It is the role of the Religious Education lead to monitor and evaluate the R.E. curriculum throughout the school as well as provide a strategic lead for the continual development and promotion within school.
Monitoring and evaluating of the curriculum is conducted in the following ways:
ensuring purposeful staff training is delivered and staff have access to CPD
supporting teachers via co-planning, team teaching, observing / giving feedback
In addition to the core curriculum, we have outside links with local religious groups including our local churches; Canwell, St. James’ Hill and Grange Lane Baptist.
Visits to places of worship are planned across the school to give a variety of experiences for pupils at different places of worship.
Outside speakers visit the school to present collective worship along the themes covered in the Birmingham Agreed Syllabus.