Why we Teach Religious Education (RE) Frequently Asked Questions?
Do all schools teach RE?
Yes. It is a statutory requirement that all state funded schools (including academies and free schools) must teach a full RE curriculum that prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life in modern Britain.
Why is RE teaching important in this day and age?
Britain today is a diverse nation and it is important that we develop a mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith in order to be able to live in peace and harmony with one another (and therefore flourish).
All children need to acquire core knowledge and understanding of the beliefs and practices of the religions and worldviews which not only shape their history and culture but which guide their own development. The modern world needs young people who are sufficiently confident in their own beliefs and values that they can respect the religious and cultural differences of others, and contribute to a cohesive and compassionate society.’ Secretary of State for Education 2013.
RE helps pupils to gain knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and worldviews and helps pupils to appreciate diversity, difference, continuity and change within the religions and worldviews studied.
RE is concerned with the deep meaning that individuals and groups make of their experiences and how this helps them give purpose to their lives. It provides pupils with opportunities to explore, make and respond to the meanings of those experiences in relation to the beliefs and experiences of others as well as to one's own experiences.
RE is not about being religious, it’s about establishing yourself as a person. It’s about knowing what you think and why you think it and it’s about being aware of what others think.
RE provides pupils with a safe space to consider ‘Big Questions’ about life.
So what does RE contribute to the curriculum?
It provides opportunities for all pupils to learn and to achieve.
Religious Education makes a distinctive contribution to the school curriculum by developing pupils' knowledge and understanding of religion, religious beliefs, practices, language and traditions and their influence on individuals, communities, societies and cultures.
It enables pupils to consider and respond to a range of important questions related to their own spiritual development, the development of values and attitudes and fundamental questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life."
So, in a Church of England school will pupils only study Christianity?
No, not at all. Church schools are inclusive communities and teach a wide variety of religions and worldviews. However, in a church school RE teaching is considered a core subject; it will have a high profile and will be intrinsic to the development of the school’s Christian vision in enabling all pupils to flourish.
So, is it fair to say there is more of a major focus on Christianity in church schools?
Yes. Although church schools teach a variety of religions and world views, it is true that the study of Christianity as a living and diverse faith does take a central position in RE teaching in church schools. However, it is important to note that church schools do not teach about Christianity to convert pupils to Christianity or ‘make more Christians’ but rather to gain knowledge and understanding of Christianity. Thus, the key phrase in the sentence is ‘learning about’. RE teaching is learning about a range of different religions and worldviews to develop knowledge and understanding. IT IS NOT ‘learning to be’ any of the religions or worldviews taught.
The language used in RE lessons will be formulated around words such as ‘Christians believe’ or ‘Muslim people believe’ rather than ‘we believe’.
So, what is a worldview?
The term ‘worldviews’ is used to refer to a person’s way of understanding, experiencing and responding to the world. It can be described as a philosophy of life or an approach to life.
Further information can be found in the Church of England’s Statement of Entitlement for Religious Education February 2019.
RE Themed Weeks
At Packington RE is taught in themed weeks in line with our philosophy to deliver a memorable and creative curriculum. Themes are taken from the new Leicestershire Agreed Syllabus, Understanding Christianity and Festival Matters.
Our RE curriculum does not seek to convert or urge a particular religion or belief on pupils. The principal aim of RE is to engage pupils in exploring big questions about life, to find out what people believe and what difference this makes to how they live, so that pupils can make sense of religion and reflect on their own ideas and ways of living.
We use a cross curricular approach during our RE themed weeks and make links with other subjects such as literacy, art and maths to explore big questions and encourage deeper thinking. During our weeks we will learn about Anglican traditions and different times of the church calendar, for example Christmas, Easter, Epiphany, Pentecost, Baptism, and the Eucharist. We also explore ‘tricky’ concepts such as ‘What do Christians believe God is like?’, ‘What do Christians learn from the Creation Story?’, ‘What is the Trinity?’ and ‘What did Jesus do to save human beings?’.
Learning about the Eucharist as part of a themed week on Salvation
Rev’ Lesley and Mrs Mugglestone came to help the Eagles explore the meaning of the Last Supper.
During the day the pupils looked at art work, considered items on the ‘feast table’ and made their own bread. At the end of the day they thought about the meaning of the ‘body and blood of Christ’ during Eucharist by sharing their bread and drinking Ribena or Shloer. This helped them understand the sacrifice that Jesus made.
We used our art skills to re-tell the Creation Story from Genesis
Pupils visited church to participate in a God of Light Experience and thought about the Holy Spirit
Rev’Vivien came into school to help us learn about Pentecost