Thornhill’s Key Principles for the Teaching of RE:
Given the rich diversity in Thornhill’s community and the ever-increasing sources of information and identity for young people, it is very important for our pupils to engage with significant human questions and develop the skills needed to understand and consider other viewpoints critically. Placing the child at the centre, each pupil should learn to develop their own responses to the questions which religion and worldviews address. Thornhill aims to teach a RE curriculum led by these principles:
- Knowing about and understanding a range of religions and worldviews: pupils are taught to describe, explain, and synthesise beliefs and practices, recognising the diversity between communities and individuals. They are taught to investigate the questions posed by the sources of wisdom found in religions and worldviews.
- Being able to express ideas and insights about the nature, significance and impact of religions and worldviews: Pupils are taught to apply their knowledge and analyse how different religions influence individuals and communities. They are taught to express with increasing sensitivity their own critical responses to questions and beliefs about identity, diversity, meaning and ethical issues.
- Gaining and deploying the skills needed to engage seriously and personally with religions and worldviews: Pupils are taught to find out about and investigate key concepts and questions, enquiring into what allows diverse communities to live together respectfully. They are taught to articulate their own beliefs and values clearly and to explain why they are important in their own and other people’s lives.
The principal aim of RE at Thornhill is to engage pupils in systematic enquiry into these significant human questions that religion and worldviews address. With sufficient subject knowledge, we want them to develop their interpersonal skills through reflection, discussion, and analysis. We understand that this is essential for developing confident people who are empathetic, self-aware, and positive participants in society.
Skills - Children should be provided with the opportunity to learn, refine, and improve their skills of explaining, synthesising, analysing, applying, empathising, and reflecting.
Subject knowledge - Children should develop knowledge about the features and rituals of different religions, understanding technical vocabulary and symbols. Progressing through KS1 and 2, they should be able synthesise their understanding and make links.
Reflection and Empathy - Teaching pupils to empathise with different ways of life and respond thoughtfully in discussion is fundamental to RE teaching at Thornhill. The school has a RE assembly every week that showcases the diversity in the community and promotes considerate questioning of diverse beliefs.
RE in the world - Children should develop an understanding of how religion and worldview makes a difference in all aspects of an individual’s life- at home, at school, at work and in the community, as well as considering the impact religion has had on society over the years.
Discussion: Teachers select a key question that leads the termly topic. This is the basis for class discussion informed by subject knowledge and individual experience. Pupils are expected to discuss with their partners and present their ideas to a group or in writing.
Connection and Collaboration: Pupils are exposed to visitors from different faiths or religious groups, such as the local Rabbi, Vicar, or Imam either in the weekly assemblies or in class. Alongside this, teachers should organise visits to different religious buildings. Pupils are encouraged to share their own faiths and rituals in the assemblies or class. Teachers at Thornhill encourage pupils to ask questions, share ideas, and use as many different sources of knowledge to inform their responses to key questions.
Skills Practice: Teachers provide pupils at Thornhill with opportunities to develop the aforementioned skills throughout their school career, using the skills progression document to lead their planning. Each lesson has a set of success criteria with skills-based statements to help direct the learning. The SACRE scheme is structured to allow for revisiting material and development at each stage.
Application: Application of skills can be shown in many ways: presentations during RE lessons; weekly assemblies; and through cross-curricular links - religion and worldview are prevalent themes in History, Geography, and PSHE as well as in many works of literature.
Assessment: The SACRE scheme contains clear differentiated statements about where the learners are expected to be after each topic. These inform the skills-based success criteria selected by the teacher for each lesson. The marking policy involves the teacher assessing each child’s work against these criteria. Pupils are also assessed through self-assessment and peer assessment, along with teacher observation.