As a Church of England school with a strong Christian distinctiveness, our vision “I can, you can, together we can grow to be the best that God has created us to be (rooted in John 13:34 Love one another as God loves us.)” encompasses abundantly The Church of England ‘Statement of Entitlement’ that “Religious education in a Church school should enable every child to flourish and to live life in all its fullness. (John 10:10). It will help educate for dignity and respect encouraging all to live well together.” Our RE lessons, cross-curricular learning and daily acts of Collective Worship form part of fulfilling our vision along with the ethos of our school and our vision values.
We encourage all to learn about the Christian faith, through providing a unique commitment to nurturing and valuing all God’s children in our community.
We follow the aims of the Nottinghamshire Agreed Syllabus (NAS) for Religious Education that children should: know about and understand a range of religions and world views, express and communicate ideas and insights about the nature, significance and impact of religions and world views and gain and deploy the skills needed to engage seriously with religions and world views. Our discreet subject lessons have an intention of providing a high quality, coherent and progressive experience of RE, highlighting the relevance of RE in today’s modern world and how it affects our lives. A significant part of our RE lessons is the study of Christianity as a living and diverse faith, focused on the teaching of Jesus and the Church as well as learning about Judaism. As an inclusive community, we also learn about other religions and world views through for example, curriculum days or activities led by visitors in order to foster respect for all and help prepare our pupils for life in all its diversity in modern Britain. Our intent is that the pupils at Holy Trinity will reflect on and relate their own learning in RE to their own experiences in order to grow in tolerance, respect and understanding of others.
The RE curriculum is taught in a logical progression, systematically and explicitly and we are clear about the intended knowledge and skills for our pupils at the end of each key stage. In Foundation Stage, RE is experiential, creative and reflective. Pupils are given time to think, talk about and consider the world around them and the beliefs of others within their community. Through creative opportunities, independent and teacher led tasks, they are able to find out about places of worship and believers. Pupils are encouraged to use technical vocabulary to share their understanding with their peers and adults working within the classroom. As the pupils move through Key Stage One, the depth of these opportunities increase, building on the knowledge acquired in the Foundation Stage.
We use ‘Understanding Christianity’ which is a strongly structured and progressively staged resource to teach the Christianity element of the NAS ‘RE for All’ 2021- 2026 and we use the NAS units to teach the Jewish faith. In the EYFS, links are also made with other areas of the EYFS framework.
‘Understanding Christianity’ aims to support pupils ‘in developing their own thinking and their understanding of Christianity, as a contribution to their understanding of the world and their own experience within it.’ Key questions in the teaching of Christianity and Judaism are explored through a multidisciplinary approach, including Thinking Skills, Philosophy4Children (P4C) and What If? Learning. The three strands of ‘Understanding Christianity’: Making Sense of the Text, Making Connections and Understanding the Impact are given equal focus in each unit of learning in both Christianity and Judaism. We explore core Bible texts and discuss what the Bible says to Christians and Jews. We look at how these impact on how Christians and Jews live and how they put their beliefs into action in diverse ways within the Christian and Jewish community and in the world.
Then we encourage the pupils to make connections, thinking about how they feel about these ideas and values and how they link to their own lives and ways of understanding the world. The spiral curriculum of ‘Understanding Christianity’ ensures that pupils deepen their understanding of the key concepts of God, Creation, Incarnation and Salvation each year with the addition of the Gospel core concept in Key Stage 1.
Although not spiral, the NSA Judaism units also enable the pupils to revisit and build upon previous learning, allowing for depth of understanding as well as breadth. As the pupils make connections between their existing knowledge and new knowledge, the themes are embedded. Initial assessments at the start of each term enable teachers to determine what the children already know and understand, in order to focus on what they need to do next.
Other world faith celebrations such as Diwali and Chinese New Year are explored through special themed days at the relevant times of year and are often led by visitors from the relevant faiths. These may vary from year to year depending upon the faiths of the pupils within school in order to show respect for everyone in our school family. KS1 pupils visit the Nottingham Liberal Synagogue to learn more about worship in the Jewish faith and worship indifferent churches within the Christian faith in Southwell are also learnt about.
We have whole class RE ‘big books’ so that each pupil can record something simple from a lesson to create a whole class contribution and pupils enjoy re-reading these and sharing them with visitors. Both RE and Collective Worship make links to Understanding Christianity’s ‘Big Frieze’ by Emma Yarlett which depicts the big picture of the Bible through the following sections: Creation, Fall, People of God, Incarnation, Gospel, Salvation and the Kingdom of God.
Our RE curriculum impacts across the whole curriculum. ‘RE plays a central part in the life of the school.’ ‘The creative curriculum, with an emphasis on awe and wonder to enhance the spiritual dimension, is tailored to meet the needs of all children.’ (SIAMS 2019) Our RE curriculum promotes inquisitive minds, respect, tolerance and understanding for all those around them including themselves. It contributes to establishing British values, (based on loving one another as God loves us and respecting each other as equals) In our discussions, democracy, individual liberty and mutual respect are promoted as the pupils are encouraged to express opinions and listen to those of others. It also promotes courageous advocacy. Our Play and Learning groups are named after Christians who made a significant difference to others due to their faith in action: Dr Barnardo, Florence Nightingale, William Booth, Mary Booth and William Tyndale. ‘Pupils speak with confidence about the Christians their groups are named after and show an age-appropriate understanding of courageous advocacy. A pupil commented, 'those Christian people had a difficult time when they tried to make the world a better place. They didn't give up so we shouldn't give up'. (SIAMS 2019) Pupils experience the impact of faith in their local community through strong links with Holy Trinity Church in particular their home group for older members of the community called ‘Signpost’. Our pupils join in with their craft activity monthly, join together with them for Collective Worship half termly and lead a Collective Worship for at least once each term. We have twinned toilets in collaboration with the church as part of their Eco Church status and as a school we are working towards the Global Neighbours award. We also support ‘The Mustard Seed Project’, a charity supporting the building and development of Miche Bora Primary School in Kenya, founded by a former staff member. Pupils are encouraged to live out the parable of the Mustard Seed, recognising that their small deeds can make a huge difference to someone else. ‘Pupils are developing a deep and genuine concern for others.’ (SIAMS 2019)
Our RE curriculum contributes to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the pupils. Opportunities for spiritual development come from thinking and talking about big questions and from reflecting on what is awesome and wonderful. Our RE curriculum encourages pupils to discuss ideas such as people's responsibility towards the world and generations to come. Pupils are encouraged to make a personal response to right and wrong and to consider a range of responses to moral issues. Social education in our RE curriculum involves exploring the similarities and differences in religions and cultures though which pupils make links between faith and personal action in everyday life. This is reflected in their relations with others through activities such as discussion and debate, and in their ability to work cooperatively with others. Cultural education in our RE curriculum includes learning about a range of different religious traditions, giving pupils an opportunity to learn what it means to belong, to become confident in themselves and be able to respond positively to similarities and differences in our changing multi-ethnic and multi-faith society. ‘Awe and wonder are the focus for the spiritual development within the school. Curiosity and questioning are actively encouraged by staff, who confidently engage with pupils, utilising their knowledge of Philosophy for Children. Pupils are able to ask questions, give their opinions and speak openly in a safe and supportive Christian environment, whilst respecting the feelings of others.’ (SIAMS 2019)
The benefits of using a resource with annually recurring concepts means that the pupils develop confidence and a deeper understanding of these core areas of Christianity and Judaism. They can make links and build on what they already know and then be able to relate what they have learned to themselves. Evidence of vocabulary, knowledge, expression and skills learned is gained from writing and other individual work, contributions towards class big books, P4C discussions, Godly Play and questioning. Evidence of specific individual response is collated in a pupil’s RE book which they use throughout their time at our school allowing progression to be seen clearly. The use of the NAS ‘three pyramids’ enable us to show the stepped progression and achievement made in the areas of knowledge, expression and skills. Our assessment materials were developed by one of our subject co-ordinators as part of a Diocesan workgroup on assessment in RE and are available on the Diocesan website for other schools to use. As a small school, we are able to regularly discuss learning in RE across the school and learning walks in RE follow the school’s monitoring cycle.