Our Curriculum - Intent
Our RE curriculum is taught to ensure that all pupils develop knowledge and understanding of sources of wisdom and their impact whilst exploring personal and critical responses. Our RE curriculum is a reflective one and strives to continually adapt provision based on the new Agreed Syllabus 2017-2022. This is to ensure that pupils recall information and develop a long-term memory of knowledge and skills taught at the school. Each year pupils will build upon previous knowledge, like bricks and building a house. They will further develop and widen their knowledge at each level.
The RE curriculum is in alignment with the school vision: Aim High, Have Courage, Be Kind - aiming high to be the best version of ourself that we can be; having courage to ask the impossible questions about other faiths and showing kindness and respect for the views and beliefs of others. Our curriculum gives children the courage to take risks and to work collaboratively together no matter what the differences are.
In Nursery and EYFS, pupils are encouraged to use an ethnographic approach to help relate stories, celebrations, artefacts and events to children from another faith community. The ethnographic approach allows the children to identify with the life of a child who is both the same as them, but also has different cultural experiences, faith stories and practices. This will avoid confusion later in learning.
In Key Stage 1 and 2, teaching and learning follows the long term plans from the Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus. This aims to ensure that all pupils develop knowledge and understanding of sources of wisdom and their impact whilst exploring personal and critical responses. It draws on pupils' existing knowledge then actively engages them in learning about (and from) religion not just through direct teaching, but also encouraging enquiry, exploration and discussion, asking and answering questions, viewing artefacts, going on school visits and meeting faith visitors.
Our RE curriculum is based on the core values that we believe the children in our school need in order best to flourish in later life and also the wider world. It is an inclusive and creative curriculum, that encourages and provides children with opportunities to explore the ‘big questions’ that life brings up with regards to believing in religious/non-religious concepts of moralistic, social and economic matters. The curriculum is broad and expands on the National Curriculum objectives, while also incorporating relevant skills we believe our children need to extend their cultural capital. The units are planned to build upon prior learning to develop future learning. Deep learning is promoted with the RE curriculum, making cross-curricular links with other subjects wherever possible. It gives children opportunities to apply these developing skills and concepts in their work and reach a high standard.
Our Curriculum - Implementation
Our curriculum clearly lays out what pupils will achieve by the end of the year. It maps out the knowledge and key skills that each pupil will gain over the year, which aim to enhance children’s progress in RE. The RE curriculum now offers eight key areas of religion for study. Key questions are raised throughout each topic and are integral to building on existing knowledge. As a school we have the flexibility to devise our own key questions and design our own units and choose when to teach them. This enables us to spend a proportion of our time allocation for RE reflecting on the religious make-up of our school and our cultural capital.
The whole school curriculum was reviewed in 2018 to build in links to outdoor learning and writing at length across all subject areas, as well as identifying and showing cross-curricular links. The order of topics was reviewed to promote deeper pupil learning, both by making links across subjects taught at the same time and also responding to learning from previous years. We believe that showing links to children makes all learning meaningful. We use outdoor learning not loosely for no reason but effectively through planned activities and lessons which capture the objectives we are trying to achieve and linking what we do in class to the world outside.
Our RE curriculum has been developed to enhance the cultural capital of the children; this helps them leave our school with skills that are valued by society and can be used to advance their pathway to understanding and respect of others in the wider community. In our school we encourage a positive growth mindset, teaching children to be respectful of themselves and others. We actively encourage visitors to the school, helping to promote the school ethos.
RE allows all children to feel they belong and their voice and experience matters. The focal point is not on results but on a wider understanding of why and how we all make our mark in the world and how we have an effect on it. RE, like all other subjects, is valued and provides children with opportunities, skills and knowledge that can be gained nowhere else. We ensure that all pupils, regardless of ability or background, are offered new experiences and a wide range of learning opportunities. This includes visiting local places of worship or inviting religious figures into school to help broaden the curriculum.
Through extended writing we encourage children to express themselves and the ideas of others. This is achieved through retelling and recording:
- religious events
- special celebrations
- major life milestones
RE encourages improved listening and discussion skills (links with PSHE and Jigsaw scheme) whilst providing a more positive and balanced mental state of well-being. In RE, we want to promote the positive school ethos of always doing our best, showing courage and 'having a go' and not giving up. This message is one of hope and perseverance and promoted in many of the stories used in the RE curriculum.
The curriculum is taught with respect, compassion and without prejudice. RE is taught in discrete weekly lessons (1 hour per week in Key Stage 1 and 1 hour 15 mins per week in Key Stage 2). Lessons are structured around each half term's Key Question (from the Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus).
Lessons involve high quality teaching, differentiated activities, opportunities for class discussions and questions and answers. Use of whiteboards, talk partners and small group work (of mixed abilities and faiths) encourage children to do their best, promoting confidence to ask the questions that they find difficult.
We actively encourage visitors of all the faiths to come into school and share their experiences. We use a local Christian church, St Andrew’s, the Watford Trust and links with Northwood Hills Orthodox Synagogue to help build and support the learning of the children at The Russell School. We also encourage children, parents and visitors to share their own religious experiences.
Our Curriculum - Impact
Informal assessment of the curriculum takes place in every lesson, helping to inform the next steps. Working with the new Agreed Syllabus removes levels of assessment through expected learning outcomes and offers a flexible model of assessment through expected learning outcomes.
Evidence gained from monitoring and learning walks demonstrates that children achieve very well and are highly engaged in their RE learning. Book work and photographic evidence shows that children thrive when given more challenging questions that inspire more ‘awe and wonder’ within their learning. Pupil Voice has been instrumental in finding out what children think about the subject and how they enjoy what they do in RE.