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Faith & Belief

‘Religion is so fundamental to this country’s history, culture and language, as well as to the daily lives of many of its inhabitants. Non-denominational schools should teach about religion with respect and understanding, but they should also explore other beliefs, including those questioning the validity of religion itself.’ Cambridge Primary Review

Intent

The Faith & Belief Curriculum should engage and challenge pupils through an exploration of core concepts and questions providing meaningful and informed dialogue with a range of religions and world views. There should be opportunities for pupils to understand the role of foundational texts, beliefs, rituals, and practices and how they help form identity in a range of religions and worldviews. Pupils should explore how these may change in different times, places and cultures.

It is our intent that children learn about religion and worldviews by:

  • Acquiring and developing knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other principal religions and worldviews represented in Britain, and the diversity within and between them as well as the commonalities they may share.
  • Developing an understanding of the influence of beliefs, values and traditions on individuals, communities, societies and cultures.

Pupils will learn from:

  • Developing a positive attitude towards other people, respecting their right to hold beliefs different from their own and towards living in a society of diverse religions and beliefs.
  • Developing the ability to make reasoned and informed judgements about religious and moral issues with reference to the teachings of the principal religions and beliefs represented in Great Britain
  • Enhancing their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development by:
  • Developing awareness of the fundamental questions of life raised by human experiences, and how religious teachings can relate to them.
  • Responding to such questions with reference to the teachings and practices of religions and other belief systems and to their understanding and experience
  • Reflecting on their own beliefs, values and experiences in the light of their study.

Through this approach, we intend for children to:

  • Know about and understand a range of religions and world views.
  • Express ideas and insights about the nature, significance and impact of religions and worldviews.
  • Gain and deploy the skills needed to engage seriously with religions and worldviews.

Implementation

The Faith and Belief curriculum is delivered through specific units, which are taught discretely, following the Pan Berkshire Agreed Syllabus and the enquiry-based model Discovery R.E.  Discovery RE advocates an enquiry model with a 4-step approach as the basis for implementation. Each enquiry is based around key questions, which necessitate children using their subject knowledge. Focused learning is built on over the 7 years, through alternating religions every second term. This allows children to learn about faiths in sufficient depth so that they remember what they have learnt, repetition is key to retaining knowledge, covering all key questions by the end of KS2. The school’s Faith and Belief Skills Progression and Curriculum Overview ensure detailed planning and accurate subject knowledge builds on prior learning. It also encourages teachers to include memorable activities such as visitors or visits to places of worship. In addition, if cross-curricular links can be exploited, they are. For example, the linking to Citizenship & Ethics to religious teaching makes imminent sense like making and following rules, respecting others and sharing responsibilities in community.

The main focus of KS1 is to learn about Christianity and Judaism. As well as Judaism and Christianity, KS2 also learn about other world religions, including Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.

Progression in Faith and Belief depends upon the development of the following generic learning skills applied to RE. These skills should be used in developing a range of activities for pupils to demonstrate their capabilities in RE. They ensure that teachers will move pupils on from knowledge accumulation and work that is merely descriptive to higher level thinking and more sophisticated skills.

  • Reflection – this includes:
    • Reflecting on feelings, relationships, experience, ultimate questions, beliefs and practices
  • Empathy – this includes:
    • Considering the thoughts, feelings, experiences, attitudes, beliefs and values of others
    • Developing the ability to identify feelings such as love, wonder, forgiveness and sorrow
    • Seeing the world through the eyes of others, and seeing issues from their point of view
  • Investigation – this includes:
    • Asking relevant questions
    • Knowing how to gather information from a variety of sources
    • Knowing what may constitute evidence for justifying beliefs in religion
  • Interpretation – this includes:
    • Drawing meaning from artefacts, works of art, music, poetry and symbolism
    • Interpreting religious language
    • Suggesting meanings of religious texts
  • Evaluation – this includes:
    • Debating issues of religious significance with reference to evidence and argument
  • Analysis – this includes:
    • Distinguishing between opinion and fact
    • Distinguishing between the features of different religions
  • Synthesis – this includes:
    • Linking significant features of religion together in a coherent pattern
    • Connecting different aspects of life into a meaningful whole
  • Application – this includes:
    • Making the association between religion and individual, community, national and international life
  • Expression – this includes:
    • Explaining concepts, rituals and practices
    • Expressing religious views, and responding to religious questions through a variety of media

Information, taught at an age-appropriate level, will gradually build to allow a deeper, richer understanding to grow. For example, children in Year 1 talk about Christians celebrating Jesus’ birth at Christmas. They use words like ‘special’ or ‘unique’ to describe Jesus. They make a ‘present’ card and draw a baby Jesus inside. By Year 4 pupils learn words like ‘Incarnation’, breaking down the word to understand its meaning. By Year 5 pupils learn some of the historical context of Jesus’ life: his cultural, religious and political influences. Understanding builds systematically and pupils are empowered to think at increasing levels of challenge and at greater depth.

The aim of the 2014 National Curriculum is question based and includes much discussion as well as research and enquiry. This approach takes very seriously the philosophy that children are free to make their own choices and decisions concerning religion and belief.

The progression in Faith and Belief is a well-defined enquiry-based model, which allows children’s critical thinking skills to continuously be developed. Increasing motivation, knowledge, understanding and empathy with people and their beliefs, religious or otherwise. A document has been produced outlining the progression of skills across the year groups and skills have been repeated to maximise the likelihood that children will remember prior learning and continue to build on maximising their knowledge throughout each year group. Each enquiry/religion demands the equivalent of 6 lessons in order to enhance learning.

Faith and Belief does not try to persuade, but rather to inform and develop the skills with which evaluation can take place. The school currently undertakes a daily act of worship in class and during assemblies.

The development of skills and knowledge are mapped through the curriculum overviews and progression matrices. In using the Discovery RE scheme of learning and the Pan Berkshire Syllabus, teachers are able to take ownership of how they deliver each lesson/enquiry. Furthermore, children are offered opportunities to further develop their Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural experiences, these are identified in each enquiry and are mapped on the overview grid for each year group. Christianity is taught in every year group, with Christmas and Easter given new treatment each year, developing the learning in a progressive way. Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism are also covered. For example: Children are taught about Islam in both Year 2 and Year 6 in order to build on their former knowledge, ensuring curriculum progression. Some religious festivals are revisited in each year group ensuring that children’s knowledge can be built upon and levels of understanding deepened. Standalone lessons celebrating religious festivals/observances are also planned in, to celebrate religious festivals in real time

Later, Year 6 will cover Christianity over a period of 3 terms and three terms will cover Islam. Incorporating key questions and end of term assessments allows teachers to make formative assessments and revisit topic areas if required.

The school teaches through the distinct domain of Faith and Belief and cross-curricular links are made between, Citizenship & Ethics, Place & Time and newly introduced Philosophy Circles.

Lowbrook’s Faith and Belief curriculum is planned creatively and follows the 4 step teaching learning/process:

In delivering the curriculum, in line with our Teaching and Learning Policy, it is crucial for staff to generate curiosity in the pupils through their teaching of the subject and develop in them a sense of respect and appreciation for other religions and cultures. Creating a sense of awe and wonder is important in delivering the curriculum so the children acquire an understanding of how the subject is fundamental in encompassing some of humanity’s most searching questions and its deepest hopes.

It is the intention that Philosophy Circles, recently introduced to the school curriculum, will complement the delivery of many Faith & Belief units of study. This domain lends itself perfectly to exploring concepts through debate so with a greater awareness of what constructive discussion looks like, Faith & Belief lessons will become increasingly purposeful. As Faith & Belief is a subject that demands discussion, evidence of these taking place will be found in class P4C scrap books, updated on a weekly basis. If opportunities for debate on a Faith & Belief theme, for instance ‘What is a Religion?’ or questions like ‘Does the existence of evil mean God doesn’t love us?’ arise beyond the defined topics, staff are encouraged to give time to dialogue. Thus Faith & Belief and P4C sessions may combine.

Children are encouraged to have enquiring mind and high-level Blooms Taxonomy questioning is evident in day-to-day teaching.

Supporting Documents

Pan Berkshire Syllabus

Discovery RE