What we say about RE at Dean Bank Primary School
Amealia – We get to learn about different beliefs and cultures.
Tyler – I like to look at videos and pictures to learn more about religions.
At Dean Bank Primary School we provide a curriculum where children will develop an understanding of the beliefs, practices and teachings of a range of religious and non-religious world views. We believe that this is crucial in developing their self-awareness, open-mindedness and appreciation of the world in which we live.
The monoculturalism in our setting means some children begin school with little or no experience of religions beyond the beliefs within their own family. We celebrate and explore diversity in a positive manner, so that children will learn respect and tolerance for others. As a result, we hope that our children will gain the confidence to challenge stereotypes of religions, cultures, beliefs and values of others that may be different to those that they have themselves.
Religious Education is studied throughout our school, following the Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in Durham. Topics cover the main world religions of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. The children engage in well-resourced and differentiated lessons, developing their knowledge and understanding, critical thinking and personal reflection.
The syllabus encourages enquiry-based learning and provides a developmental approach to RE which is coherent and systematic. Every lesson we teach is driven by a key question which provides our children with opportunities to engage, explore and evaluate their learning. We endeavour to enhance our curriculum further by enabling the children to gain first-hand experiences of the religions they are taught through visiting places of religious significance and welcoming visitors from different religions into our school. Through our carefully planned Religious Education curriculum children will move through school with a progression and depth of knowledge on religious and non-religious world views.
The impact of our Religious Education curriculum will be apparent in the children’s engagement, enjoyment and enthusiasm towards RE, as well as the progress evidenced in their books and through their discussions. This will demonstrate the children’s wide knowledge and understanding of different religions and cultures. They will be able to ask and answer challenging questions and understand that not all questions will have answers. Our children will be respectful of all faiths and beliefs and be able to reflect upon other’s beliefs in relation to their own. Children are assessed at the end of each topic against statements based on planned outcomes. These assessments are then used to inform a teacher judgement for each child to identify if they are working below, at or exceeding expectations for their age.
The Right of Withdrawal
The parent of a pupil at a community, foundation or voluntary school (or pupils themselves if they are aged 18 or over) may request that they be excused from all or part of the religious education (RE) provided. Religion and belief have become more visible in public life in recent years, making it important that all pupils should have an opportunity to engage in RE.
Dean Bank Primary School will ensure that parents who wish to withdraw their children from RE are aware of its aims and what is covered in the RE curriculum and that they are given the opportunity to discuss this if they wish. It should be made clear whether the withdrawal is from the whole RE curriculum or specific parts of it. No reasons need be given.
Whilst parents or carers have a right to withdraw children from RE, they should note that children may also encounter religions and beliefs in other areas of the curriculum from which there is no right of withdrawal. On occasion, spontaneous questions about religious matters are raised by pupils or issues related to religion arise in other subjects such as history or citizenship. For example, our school promotes community cohesion and help pupils to understand ideas about identity and diversity within both religious and non-religious contexts.
Managing the Right of Withdrawal
Parents have the right to choose whether or not to withdraw their child from RE without influence from the school; at Dean Bank Primary we ensure parents and carers are informed of this right, through the school website and prospectus. Where parents have requested that their child be withdrawn, their right will be respected, and where RE is integrated in the curriculum, we will need to discuss the arrangements with the parents or carers to explore how the child’s withdrawal can be best accommodated. If pupils are withdrawn from RE, we have a duty to supervise them, though not to provide additional teaching or to incur extra cost.
We will ensure that parents who want to withdraw their children from RE are aware of the educational objectives and content of the RE syllabus and that the agreed syllabus is relevant to all pupils, respecting their personal beliefs. They will be made aware of its learning outcomes and what is covered and will be given the opportunity to discuss these. In this way, parents can make an informed decision; we may wish review their request in discussion with parents each year.
Where a request for withdrawal is made, we will comply and excuse the pupil until the request is rescinded. Though not legally required, we will follow good practice and invite parents to discuss their written request.
RE in Action at Dean Bank
To continue to develop our understanding of other religions, we enjoy learning about the ways they celebrate important religious festivals. This year we explored why Diwali is important for Hindus. We then tried some typical foods eaten on Diwali, learnt some traditional dances and did some arts and crafts activities.
Why do we learn about different religions in RE?
“So we can understand different views” – Rebecca, Year 5
“It helps us to understand people better” – Astrid, Year 3
Do you think it is important RE is taught in school?
“Yes, we need to be educated about people around us” – Kieran, Year 3
“Yes because we meet new people or go to new places we can have an understanding of them and uplift them” – Bailey, Year 5
What do you enjoy most about RE?
“Going to church, it had colourful windows” – Orani, Year 1
“I enjoy going out to churches and talking to the vicars. I am a Christian and I learnt new things too” – Astrid, Year 3
“When we went to the grand mosque and got to ask people all the questions we had” – Thomas, Year 6
In Year 6 we have brought all our knowledge together to answer the enquiry question, ‘So what do we know about Christianity?’. We have looked at the key religious beliefs about God and Jesus, the importance of the Bible as well as Christian worship within different denominations.
Other core religions
In Year 6 we have begun to look at our local Muslim community. We began by exploring what Islam is through the Qu’ran before visiting Newcastle Mosque where we developed our understanding further.
As part of our enquiry question ‘What do Christians believe about God?’ we explored some of the metaphors some Christians use to understand God. We then created our own metaphors that represented God as the creator.
Other core religions
In Year 5 we have begun to look at Judaism. We have explored Jewish beliefs and how they express their beliefs in the home.
As part of it enquiry question ‘How and why do people show care for others?’ we have been exploring why Christians believe they should care. After we reflected on ways that we show kindness and compassion through caring for other.
Other core religions
Building on our knowledge of how Christians care for others, we explored ways other core religions express care, particularly Sikhs. We learnt that this is a characteristic that is valued by many religious and non-religious people.
As part of our enquiry question ‘What can we learn about Christian symbols and belief by visiting churches’ we got the opportunity to visit some different Christian churches and speak to religious leaders. We explored what Christian worship looks like and what symbols are important to Christians.
Other core religions
In Year 3 we have explored Hinduism in great depth. We began the year by looking at how Hindus worship and we are now exploring what Hindus believe and how this influences their actions.
As part of our enquiry question ‘What does it mean to belong in Christianity?’ we have been exploring how belonging can be expressed through baptism and other services of dedication.
Other core religions
In Year 2 we have continued to build upon our understanding of Buddhism. We have explored some of the ways that Buddhists show their beliefs.
As part of our enquiry question ‘ Why is Jesus special to Christians?’ we have been exploring different bible stories and learning about some the special things that Jesus did.
Other core religions
In Year 1 we have begun to look at Buddhism and understand why Buddha is special. We have explored some of his key character traits and reflected on how we can show some of these important values.
Year 2 – Autumn 21
In Year 2 we have been exploring why the Bible is important to Christians. We looked at ways Christians showed respect towards the Bible and then reflected on ways that we can show respect in our lives.
During our study of the story of St Cuthbert, we explored the importance of what Cuthbert did, this helped us to realise why St Cuthbert was important.
Year 3 – Autumn 21
In Year 3 we have been exploring Hindu worship. We ordered the steps of puja and then looked at why these are important. We created the following video to teach others about puja.
Then we compared Hindu worship at home to worship carried out in a Mandir. We realised that worship wherever it is done, all has the same purpose which is to build a relationship with Brahman.
Year 4 – Autumn 21
In Year 4 we have been exploring what the Bible is and why it is important to Christians. We have looked at a range of parables and what they taught us.
We have learnt that Jesus is known as the light of the world but we wanted to understand why. We explored a painting of Jesus and reflected on what this taught us.
Year 5 – Autumn 21
In Year 5 we have been learning about why Jewish people go to the synagogue. Through this topic we have explored the four stages of life and how the synagogue is involved in these celebrations.
We also looked at the Jewish holy book, the Torah. We explored how to treat this book with respect, how to use it in worship and what it contains.
Inter Faith Week – Nov 21
The focus of this year’s interfaith week was to explore stewardship. Classes were given different religions to study, they had to explore why stewardship was important to their chosen religion and how people from their religion showed stewardship. Children were then asked to reflect on what they had learnt and write a message that their future selves would tell them to do now.
Educational visits are a really important part of the delivery of our RE curriculum. Children thoroughly enjoy their visits and learn so much from them.
This year Year 1 visited some churches in Ferryhill to learn about Christianity. In Year 2 children visited Durham Cathedral to learn about the story of St Cuthbert. In Year 3 children visited different churches in Ferryhill to explore different ways they worship and express their beliefs. In Year 6 children visited Newcastle Mosque to develop their understanding of Islam.