Religious Education (RE)
RE Leader & Deputy Head
The curriculum we use at St Catherine’s is the ‘God Matters’ programme. Each year group explores ten units, which are linked to the liturgical year of the Church and include teaching of other faiths. The programme offers a clear approach to teaching and learning. This is characterised by engaging, exploring and expressing and it is structured in a way which allows for deep learning and real engagement with the RE content.
God Matters is designed to ensure that pupils make progress in RE from reception to year 6. The theological content and principles are linked to the National Curriculum Directory. It is supported by a clear approach to teaching and learning. This clear approach is characterised by the 3 E’s: Engage, Explore, Express. (See separate notes below.) It is structured in a way which allows for deep learning and real engagement with the RE content.
Explicit R.E. takes place during timetabled lessons (10% of curriculum time) supported by assemblies, liturgies and community worship. This means 2 hours of RE per week in KS1 and 2.5 hours of RE per week in KS2.
Prayers, Saints and Feasts,
Pentecost & Mission
Engage, Explore, Express
Engage is the means by which pupils can initially interrogate the learning. By using art, role-play, or devising questions for themselves, pupils are enabled to visualise the story. They can identify who is involved, what is happening and can speculate what might happen. Engage activities seek to identify an answer to the question: “What is the story?”
There are many other approaches to engaging pupils, other than those identified in the scheme, which can be used. These include:
• Matching Scripture to a song or music;
• Scenario based approaches, e.g. Imagine if, What if?
• Extensive art and drama activities.
All of the activities are characterised by:
• Plenty of talk and use of talk partners;
• Probing and open-ended questioning;
• Opportunities for pupils to devise their own questions;
• Clear links between the stimuli and the learning intentions.
Explore activities are designed both to answer the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ questions and to enable pupils to organise their thinking. Teaching enables connections to be made, as well as allowing pupils to evaluate, analyse and explore different points of view, compare, contrast and reach conclusions.
There are many tools which enable such exploration, apart from those included in the scheme. These include:
• Pie charts, bar charts;
• ICT spreadsheets.
Again, explore activities are characterised by dialogue and by examining ideas and content from different perspectives.
Express activities are organised in a way which allows pupils to express their understanding of particular concepts and Scripture passages, using approaches from other curriculum areas. In seeking to be like Jesus or his followers, express tasks enable pupils to demonstrate that they know what Jesus was like, what he did and what he thought in different circumstances.
Express activities provide purpose and context to lessons. They also provide opportunities to demonstrate understanding in many different ways. Express activities can be given meaning, when pupils are allocated a particular role, such as dancer, journalist, editor, illustrator, expedition leader etc.
There are many different types of express activities used in different curriculum areas. Each unit includes at least one extended writing task, when planning for express activities.
Why is Religious Education important in Catholic Schools?
Religious Education is the "core of the core curriculum" in a Catholic school (Pope St John Paul II). Placing RE at the core of the curriculum in Catholic schools helps the school to fulfill its mission to educate the whole person in discerning the meaning of their existence, since "Religious Education is concerned not only with intellectual knowledge but also includes emotional and affective learning. It is in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of what it is to be human truly becomes clear. Without religious education, pupils would be deprived of an essential element of their formation and personal development, which helps them attain a vital harmony between faith and culture." (Religious Education curriculum Directory p4). Furthermore, religiously literate children and young people are able to engage in a fully informed critique of all knowledge, "leading, for example, to an understanding of the relationship between science and religion or history, and between theology, sport and the human body." (Religious Education Curriculum Directory p4).
What is the purpose of Religious Education in Catholic schools?
Catholic schools, with RE at their core, exist in order to "help parents, priests and teachers to hand on the Deposit of Faith in its fullness to a new generation of young people so that they may come to understand the richness of the Catholic faith, and thereby be drawn into a deeper communion with Christ in his Church." (Religious Education Curriculum Directory pvii). With this as their primary aim, Catholic schools serve diverse populations of pupils and within this context the Religious Education Curriculum Directory (RECD) makes the aims of Religious Education explicit:
- To present engagingly a comprehensive content which is the basis of knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils continually to deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively;
- To present an authentic vision of the Church's moral and social teaching so that pupils can make a critique of the underlying trends in contemporary culture and society;
- To raise pupils' awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to respect and understand them;
- To develop the critical faculties of pupils so that they can relate their Catholic faith to daily life;
- To stimulate pupils' imagination and provoke a desire for personal meaning as revealed in the truth of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils to relate the knowledge gained through Religious Education to their understanding of other subjects in the curriculum;
- To bring clarity to the relationship between faith and life, and between faith and culture.
The outcome of excellent Religious Education is religiously literate and engaged young people who have the knowledge, understanding and skills – appropriate to their age and capacity – to reflect spiritually, and think ethically and theologically, and who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life (Religious Education Curriculum Directory p6).