As a Catholic school, religion is not just another subject in the curriculum, but it is a way of life. It permeates everything we do. Placing RE at the core of the curriculum in St Ethelbert's helps the school to fulfil its mission to educate the whole person.
In addition to Collective Worships and learning about Christ through the Catholic ethos of the school, children are taught RE every Wednesday morning in all year groups. We use the scheme The Way, The Truth and The Life from Foundation Stage to Year 6 as a basis for our teaching which uses the Gospel stories to teach children about the life and lessons of Jesus.
We ensure that this programme of study is enriched with a variety of activities that include history, geography and art. Giving an historical perspective of the time in which Jesus lived, and the traditions followed, allows us to give the children a greater and deeper understanding of the stories we study in the Bible. The children will also examine famous paintings that can give a fresh insight into Jesus' time and teachings. We study maps, for example of Egypt and Israel, to gain a better insight into where these stories took place.
Having the whole of Wednesday morning to focus on the teaching of RE, allows the children to go into greater depth with their learning and think about some 'Big Questions' in RE. Discussion is an important part of the lesson and it is during this time that the children's understanding is really evident. Adults within the class often record the children's questions and responses, which are then transferred into the Class Reflection Book.
Big Questions are the ones that don’t have an easy answer. They are often open and difficult; they may even be unanswerable or there may be more than one answer. The aim is to encourage deep and long conversations, rather than finding easy answers.
These questions encourage children to offer theories, work collaboratively, use reason and think critically. Big Questions should be ones that encourage research, debate and critical thinking. Big Questions aren’t just about getting the ‘right’ answers, but about learning the methods and skills needed to find the answers.
Why do we ask Big Questions?
- To encourage children to think beyond the obvious.
- To encourage children to think of as many possibilities as they can, before deciding upon the best or most appropriate answer.
- To increase their understanding of a topic
- To encourage children to articulate their thoughts