At Alsager Highfields Primary School we provide a nurturing environment where every child can believe in themselves and achieve. Through teaching RE at Alsager Highfields we aim to give children the knowledge, critical thinking skills, open minded and respectful attitudes with which to investigate the world of religion and beliefs. We encourage children to explore their own beliefs in light of what they learn, whilst empathising with what it means to those who hold particular beliefs. To do this we aim to provoke challenging questions which will develop children’s knowledge and understanding of Christianity and other principle religions. We enable pupils to build their sense of identity and belonging, which helps them flourish within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society.
At Alsager Highfields we follow the Cheshire East agreed syllabus for Religious Education using Discovery RE. Discovery RE is an enquiry-based scheme of work, covering the 6 principal world faiths in a progressive way from reception through to Year 6. In reception, the learning is closely matched to Development Matters to contribute meaningfully to children’s holistic development. Throughout all the enquiries, the children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural education is carefully considered. Across KS1 and KS2, each enquiry lasts for half a term and begins with an enquiry question. The children then start discussing the theme of the enquiry in this case, commitment from their own experience.
There are 4 steps to each enquiry which are as follows:
Step 1: Engagement: the children’s own human experience is explored to act as bridge from their world (which may or may not include religion) into the world of the religion being studied.
Step 2: Investigation: over approximately 3 lessons the teacher will guide the children to explore and investigate appropriate subject knowledge relevant to that question of enquiry.
Step 3: Evaluation: An assessment activity enables each child to show their thinking and the depth of critical evaluation.
Step 4: Expression: This refers the children back to the starting point of their own experience and allows them to reflect on whether their findings have influenced their own thinking.
Only when the children fully understand the concept they are considering, do they then move on to investigating what the people following the studied religion believe about it. They will spend approximately 3 lessons on this, learning in a variety of ways, so they can adapt their responses and come to a measured conclusion. In week 5 they will complete an activity which can assess their learning, by answering their enquiry question. The assessment activities are child friendly and can be answered in a variety of ways, as long as the child can justify their view with the knowledge they have gained throughout the enquiry. This demonstrates the level of critical thinking that the children can apply – a valuable skill for them throughout the school curriculum.
The final week in every enquiry gives the children time to reflect on what they have learnt about the concept and apply to it their own lives, thus allowing them to form their own beliefs and identity. These lessons are often very creative and children have opportunities to make items to express themselves in ways other than just writing.
By the time they leave Alsager Highfields, the majority of pupils will have developed a personal resonance or reflection on the concept or belief underlying the subject matter of the enquiry. They will be able to communicate their own thoughts, opinions and beliefs and respond with empathy. Children will be able to make connections in their own lives and see how this is different for other people because of their beliefs. Children’s subject knowledge will be developed so that they are able to recall facts about religions and explain differences in practice and interpretation within and between religions and belief systems. Children will have developed the skills of evaluation and critical thinking in relation to enquiry questions. They will be able to weigh up evidence and different arguments or aspects relevant to enquiry questions and express their answers, supported with evidence and rationale.