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Reading, writing, arithmetic and Religious Education

RELIGIOUS Education is regularly in the news. National reports have highlighted the difficulties with RE and religious literacy in wider society writes ANNE ANDREWS.

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Bishop Steven answers pupils Reinspired Big Questions

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BISHOP Steven was given a place in the Mastermind chair at a recent REinspired session for primary school children at Lower Early Baptist Church in Reading.

“We have been working with the Year 6 children of Hawkedon Primary School since they were in Foundation,” says Julia Jones, Project Director of REinspired.  “All of our sessions meet the needs of the RE syllabus. But this session is different as it is the children who set the questions and we then design the session and activities accordingly.”

Some of the pupil’s asked questions about when we die. Leaders introduced the topic using the story of Water bugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney which led to deeper discussions in their small groups.  The pupils were given an opportunity to respond by using art and craft.

Pupils gathered together as one group and Bishop Steven settled himself down into the big ‘Mastermind’ chair.  With two minutes on the clock, how many questions did the bishop answer?  He managed to answer 11 fully and successfully before the bell went.  Some of the questions included:

“What do you do when you wake up?”

With a smile he answered, “I get out of bed, have a coffee and I pray.”

“Will Jesus always be with you?”

The Bishop firmly said, “Yes, including in death and beyond death.”

“If God is real why is He not helping people in need?”

Thoughtfully, the Bishop answered, “I think God is helping people in need a lot.  God calls us to help these people and has given all we need to do so.”

The pupils then had the opportunity of questioning the Bishop directly.  They eagerly put their hands up.  One of the questions was:

“If you could change anything in the world what would it be?”

Bishop Steven answered, “It would be war and conflict.  It’s terrible when it happens to people but when its caused by other people I think it’s the worst.”

As always, our teachers are invited to feedback their comments on every session.  Today the Hawkedon teachers reflected, “REinspired have organised this session well with a good pace.  We were happy with the delivery, setup and safety of the session.  It covered useful aspects of PSMSC (Personal, Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural). The children were engaged and thoroughly enjoyed questioning the Bishop.”

REinspired based at St Nicolas Church, Earley, is an ecumenical group of Christians in Earley and East Reading delivering RE sessions to schools. We started 15 years ago when one of our primary schools asked a local minister for help with their RE.  The Churches Together in Earley and East Reading team embraced the opportunity and REinspired was born.  Our aim is to meet the need of the locally agreed RE syllabus and bring RE to life. Having started with one class in one school, REinspired now supports every class in all 11 primary schools as well as two secondary schools.  When we started we had dreams of meeting and working with ‘every child, every year, every school’.  15 years later that dream is a reality.

 

Big Questions at Chesterton

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CHIDamascusLDREN faced big questions during investigative RE lessons at Chesterton CE Primary School.

Diocesan RE Adviser, Jo Fageant, met teachers to formulate a new, cross curricular project, exploring in Key Stage 1 whether Jesus has the power to change people’s lives, using biblical texts including the Road to Damascus. In Key Stage 2, they explored the burning bush and were given a commission from God: “Looking down on the world I feel dispirited to see so much sadness in the world that I created. It was not meant to be like this. I see my people suffering at the hands of nature but also at the hands of man.” God asked the children to report back to him their findings.

Years Three and Four explored religion in Britain in the time of the Tudors and then through investigation of the conflict in Northern Ireland. Years 5 and 6 found out about religion in the Holy Land learning about the Crusades and the modern Arab/Israeli conflict.

The children came up with thoughtful responses. Adam said: “This has been one of the best topics we’ve worked on because it was exploring a big question that linked together subjects I like, history, geography and RE. We learned about Greek gods when we were in Year 3 but this project has helped me to understand more about Greek history and conflicts in the Holy Land involving Romans and Jews. We also learned about the Crusades and compared all this history with the modern situation in Syria.”

Emma said: “I most enjoyed learning about the Arab/Israeli conflict. I’ve seen things about it on the news but never really knew what it was about. Finding out about it was so interesting and how people’s different religious beliefs were not making them behave well towards one another.”

Lottie in Year 4 said: “‘Protestants’ and ‘Catholics’ are just labels. The charities that try to help want people to know that Jesus didn’t want that, he said faith was important.”

 

Events

RE and Collective Worship

Delegates will consider their roles and responsibilities as governors. We will focus on curriculum, monitoring and evaluation of Religious Education, including the current requirements of RE syllabuses. This will include:

  • Brief overview of the current RE syllabus, including aims and teaching methods
  • Legal responsibilities of governors towards RE syllabuses in different types of schools
  • Monitoring & evaluation of RE
  • Position of RE in respect of SIAMS & OFSTED
  • Links between RE, SMSC, Personal Development and British Values

We will also look at the governors’ role in regard to Collective Worship, taking account of the relationship with parish practice. This will include:

  • Brief overview of Worship in the context of the current debate of the place of faith in schools
  • Legal responsibilities for governors in Worship
  • Monitoring & evaluation of Worship
  • Position of Worship in respect of SIAMS & OFSTED
  • Links between Worship, SMSC, Personal Development and British Values

The course will enable participants to develop a deeper understanding of the impact of RE and Worship in pupil’s development. Governors will be better placed to exercise their role in developing strategy and providing critical support for developments in school

Course Leaders: Anne Andrews/Robin Sharples

Cost: SLA schools: £45, or as part of Excellence in Governance package: £499 (10 modules over 2 years, 3 Gov.s per module)

For more information: To book: 01865 208272 or e-mail: training@oxford.anglican.org