Religion and Worldviews
“Religion cannot be understood simply from the outside. It is like stained glass windows in the cathedrals and churches. You can see them from the outside and they are nothing, grey and colourless. You can see them from the inside and they are wonderful, full of life and colour. Unless they are understood as seen from the inside, religious dogmas and rituals seem grey and shapeless, if not absurd”.
(School’s Curriculum Council Working Paper 36)
At Scissett CE Academy, Religion & Worldviews is centered in our Vision of “Excellence for the whole child; a place where all succeed.” It is a core subject wherein each child can discover their own value and spiritual beliefs, as well as those of the diverse world around them, exploring the concept that all are created in the image of God, and therefore worthy of respect. We aim to enable pupils to hold balanced and informed conversations about religion and belief. This incorporates:
- helping children to grow and develop their knowledge and understanding of religion, faith and non-religious worldviews
- ensuring children can give a theologically informed and thoughtful account of Christianity as a living and diverse faith, promoting Christian values and ethos.
- enabling our children to have an informed and respectful attitude to religions and non-religious worldviews in their search for God and meaning, and to engage in meaningful and informed dialogue with those of other faiths and none.
- enabling our children to relate their life experience to their study of religion, reflecting critically and responsibly on their own spiritual, philosophical and ethical convictions.
Religion & Worldviews is available to all children in school. The 1998 and 1993 Education acts establish parents’ rights to withdraw their children from R&W lessons (and Collective Worship) provided they give written notification to the Headteacher. However, by the fact parents have opted to send their children to a Church of England school, it is hoped that this will not be necessary and parents feel happy with their child being taught Religion and Worldviews.
Our R&W curriculum is based on the ‘Diocesan Syllabus for RE in the Dioceses of Leeds and York’, and careful consideration is given to progression and continuity throughout the age ranges. It also includes exploration of our Academy’s key Christian values of Honesty, Kindness, Respect, Love, Koinonia and Trust. The Church calendar is also used to support and inform the timetable for the teaching of R&W. Presentation of work can be through writing, factual or imaginative, art work, dance and drama; we value opportunities to use R&W to enhance and support other curricular areas. The value of discussion, debate, and the giving and receiving of opinions is a key aspect of the subject. We foster active links with the wider community especially St. Augustine’s Church, the parish and other church schools.
At Scissett CE Academy, Religion & Worldviews is broadly of a Christian nature. However, other faiths are explored (specifically Islam, Hinduism and Judaism) as well as non-religious worldviews such as Humanism. Teaching within any belief area is always approached with respect, sensitivity, care and integrity. All children at Scissett CE Academy have equal access to the R&W curriculum irrespective of race, ability and gender. Cultural diversity is welcomed and we actively encourage pupils to share their own experiences of faith and worship.
The R&W curriculum is based upon three strands:
- Making sense of beliefs
- identifying and making sense of core religious and non-religious concepts and beliefs
- understanding what these beliefs mean within their traditions
- recognising how and why sources of authority are used, expressed and interpreted in different ways, and developing skills of interpretation
- Understanding the impact
- examining how and why people put their beliefs into action in diverse ways, within their everyday lives, within their communities and in the wider world
- Making connections
- reasoning about, reflecting on, evaluating and connecting the concepts, beliefs and practices studied
- allowing pupils to challenge ideas and the ideas to challenge pupils’ thinking
- discerning possible connections between these ideas and pupils’ own lives and ways of understanding the world
“These elements set the context for open exploration of religions and beliefs. They offer a structure through which pupils can encounter diverse religious traditions, alongside non-religious worldviews, presenting a broad and flexible strategy that allows for different traditions to be treated with integrity. These elements offer a route through each unit while also allowing for a range of questions reflecting approaches from religious studies, theology, ethics, sociology and philosophy.”
The Diocesan Syllabus for Religion & Worldviews in the Diocese of Leeds and York
In Early Years, Key themes translate R&W principles into practice:
A unique child:
- developing a sense of identity and belonging
- providing opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development
- encouraging children to use their imagination and inquisitiveness to develop their appreciation and wonder of the world.
- developing sensitivity to others, particularly those of different cultures and religions.
The environment provides opportunities to nurture and extend children’s emotional and spiritual wellbeing through:
- exemplifying positive attitudes to difference
- providing resources that combat prejudice and opportunities to encounter the unfamiliar
- encountering different places of worship
- exploring books and visual displays of special times and festivals
- interacting with sacred artefacts and people of faith
- providing a place that encourages quiet times for reflection.
Learning and development:
R&W supports this by helping children develop:
- an understanding of right and wrong
- an awareness of different beliefs about God
- an awareness of different religious practices, traditions and celebrations
- a religious vocabulary.
Throughout the school, units from The Diocesan Syllabus for Religion & Worldviews in the Diocese of Leeds and York have been carefully mapped across all year groups, and linked where appropriate to our key Christian values (i.e. “Respect” in the term where KS1 & 2 are studying other world faiths; “Love” in the Easter half-term and “Koinonia” linked to units on belonging):
Religion and Worldviews - Overview
Each teacher ensures that units are carefully planned and matched to the ability and level of understanding of the children. R&W lessons should be exciting and stimulating experiences, which present the child with opportunities for debate, challenge and reflection.
In addition to the core R&W curriculum, we provide a variety of additional experiences for children to explore and enrich their own beliefs and values.
- Prayer corners/Reflection areas – Each class has a prayer corner which can be used for inner reflection or quiet prayer. These often provide interactive experiences on different topics linked to our Christian values or units taught. There are also reflective spaces in the school hall and around school, where children may pause to think about worries or concerns or have some quiet reflection time.
- Trips and Visitors – where possible, staff enrich their classes’ R&W experiences by arranging relevant trips to places of worship or inviting visitors into school or online for presentations and discussions.
- Prayer Journeys & Godly-play – each class has at least two opportunities each year to experience a Godly-play session, lesson or a reflective Prayer Journey delivered by a visiting agency. These experiences are carefully mapped into a 2-year plan, designed to link with year groups’ R&W topics or key Christian values wherever possible:
Religion and Worldviews is not religious instruction, but a valued academic subject that encourages children to develop religious and theological literacy. We believe that, through regular, well planned Religion and Worldviews lessons, children will understand and respect a variety of religious and non-religious beliefs, practices and values, and be aware that there is diversity within the same religions as well as between different religions. They will have considered life’s “big questions” and the broader role of religion in society.
It is our intention that our children will have confidence in who they are and what they believe, and will have the ability to engage in respectful, meaningful and informed conversations with those of different faiths and beliefs, essential for living in a diverse and ever-changing world. They will have been encouraged to be curious and ask increasingly challenging questions about religion, belief, values and human life, as well as reflecting on concepts beyond the natural world, and to develop their own spiritual/philosophical convictions.