At Whitehall Infants we believe that educating our pupils about a variety of religious beliefs and practices will enable them to live in our multi-cultural community and will hopefully equip the whole family with a shared knowledge about the faiths that surround us. As part of Religious Education we show how all the different faiths teach the positive values of truth, justice and respect for all and care of the environment. Our curriculum places specific emphasis on:
- Pupils valuing themselves and others
- The role of the family and the community
- The celebrations in different faiths and the similarities and differences that there are
We are in the process of updating and designing our Religious Education (RE) curriculum to help children not just learn about religious beliefs and practices, but to also develop and value their own beliefs. We want to help children to see how important their own faith can be to them and the positive effect it can bring to their life. RE is a subject that all Goverment schools have a duty to teach. Walsall council have produced their Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education (SACRE) and we, along with most other schools in Walsall, use this as our curriculum for RE. We also make sure when we teach RE that we focus on the children’s Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development as we go through the curriculum as this helps children to see how RE relates to them and others. The 1996 Education Act makes it a legal requirement for our school to teach Christianity and aspects of at least one other faith in KS1 (years 1 and 2). At Whitehall Infants, due to the religious beliefs represented within both staff and pupils, we teach children about Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. However, within individual lessons we make sure that children of different faiths are able to share their beliefs and understandings as well, if they wish.
RE in Nursery and Reception
RE is taught within the area of ‘Understanding the World’ mainly through the theme of ‘People and Communities’, though there are also elements within ‘The World’.
In addition to this, religious values and understandings are also brought up by the children and consequently taught about in other areas of the Foundation Stage Profile such as Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language, Literacy, Creative Development and even Physical Development.
RE in Year 1 and 2
Currently, Children in Years 1 and 2 are taught RE through story sessions and standalone lessons. In accordance with SACRE, we are focusing on the 3 religions of Christianity, Islam and Sikhism.
We feel it is important for children to recognise that beliefs are expressed in a variety of ways and they will begin to understand the importance and value of religion and belief, for themselves, other children and their families. Pupils are encouraged to ask questions so that they develop a greater understanding about their own faith and faiths of others. We want them to develop a sense of wonder about the created world and to develop the skills to be able to share what is important to them in the world and in their faith by talking about and reflecting on their feelings and experiences.
In addition to the formal lessons, RE will also be covered during whole school and class assemblies and during story times where relevant. This will be especially apparent as we approach special celebrations.
During their time at Whitehall Nursery and Infant School pupils will visit many different places of worship and begin to develop an understanding of the principles and practices of each religion. We are lucky to have a variety of places of worship in our local area and many of our pupils are familiar with the landmark buildings. They enjoy these visits very much and we feel that seeing places of worship and religious artefacts in their real setting is much more exciting than seeing them in the classroom or in pictures.
We are also very fortunate to have a range of religions represented within our staff. Therefore, we seek to use the knowledge and skills of those staff and parents to educate children about their own beliefs and practices, why they have faith and what benefits a faith brings to their life. We also try to invite religious leaders from our local area to come into school to speak to the children.
Due to the broad variety of religions represented in our school and local community, we try to join in the celebratory aspects of as many special religious days as possible. We believe that understanding the meaning of the celebration will help the children to think positively about them, whether or not they share those beliefs. At no time during RE or on any visits to places of worship are children involved in any religious activity associated with the faith or place of worship. We just give children the opportunity to see the inside of these local buildings so that they are not a mysterious, unknown place in their community. We know these experiences will support children in growing up without the misunderstandings and misconceptions that other less educated people can have about faiths and cultures different from their own. This can only help to make our community stronger.