RE, Citizenship and Psychology
RE, Citizenship and Psychology
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW NORFOLK AGREED SYLLABUS AT SEWELL PARK ACADEMY
Aims & Vision
Our aim has always been to produce learners with a tolerance, appreciation, and respect for both religious beliefs/practices, and religious/cultural differences. The new Norfolk agreed syllabus now gives us the opportunity to put religious literacy at the heart of this, which emphasises the ability of the student to hold balanced and well-informed conversations about religions and worldviews. The added academic rigour allowed by a multidisciplinary approach, and the use of core questions, means that students can be assessed on the basis of their level of religious literacy.
The RE/PSHE Department at SPA has traditionally planned lessons around core questions, the use of which are a key tool for the teacher to measure student progress in relation to religious literacy. In the remodelled KS3 scheme of learning, core questions have been appended which are both rooted in the different disciplinary approaches, are age appropriate, and help to facilitate learning enquiries, the development of understanding, and the fostering of religious literacy. The class teacher is at liberty to devise further core questions, but the ones provided are intended to provide the basis for assessment. Formative assessment will be crucial as this will allow the teacher to gauge the standard of religious literacy, particularly in the form of questioning and class discussion/debates. Summative assessment will be used where appropriate in order to assess the key components of religious literacy - knowledge, ideas/insights, and skills. The research methods (skills) used by the students to validate their knowledge are central to the multidisciplinary approach. For example, Y8 students complete an assessment about the validity of the resurrection, which has philosophy as its disciplinary focus. In terms of skills, the teacher would be seeking to assess the use of logic, reason, evidence and sources. This is facilitated through the main task, in which students create a report which considers the evidence and competing theories.
The number of religions studied, and the weighting given to each, has been adjusted in accordance with the new guidance. This is also to take account of increased curriculum time for RE/PSHE, and the necessity of delivering the new statutory elements of PSHE to all year groups. Christianity has been expanded to cover the whole of the Spring Term in Y8, which fulfils the requirement for spending more time on this religion than any other religion/worldview; also, the timing coincides with the Y8 Options Process which allows the students to directly experience RE as they consider further study; and it is one of the two religions which is studied at GCSE RE (AQA). There is a requirement to cover two other principle religions. Previously, three Dharmic religions were included in the programme of study, which has been reduced to two, with the removal of Hinduism. It was felt that many of the key concepts, necessary to develop religious literacy, can be taught and explored through Buddhism and Sikhism. In the light of the rise of antisemitism, Judaism will continue to be taught in order to ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge and confidence to challenge prejudice; it also means that all of the Abrahamic religions are covered at some point (Islam at KS4). The reduced weightings, in terms of curriculum time, of religions other than Christianity have been planned in broad accordance with the requirements of the new syllabus. It should be noted that the scheme of learning still includes one more religion than is necessitated - It is felt that that the school context justifies this, in that the value to students of broader coverage and further opportunities to make connections between religions will provide greater scope for the development of religious literacy. The existing Humanism unit remains in place in order to satisfy the requirement to study another worldview.
It is intended that planning for individual lessons, or sequences of lessons, will follow the learning enquiries route, which has core knowledge and core questions at its heart. This will allow teachers to develop religious literacy more easily, and to assess how far students have made progress. It also facilitates summative lessons/assessment as the core questions can be returned to, and compared to baseline tests/knowledge.
The requirements for KS4 teaching of RE is explained in the syllabus as follows:
“In Years 10 and 11 a core course must be provided for all students to meet their entitlement to RE. Whilst there is no legal requirement to sit public examinations, students deserve the opportunity, as far as possible, to have their learning in RE accredited. External accreditation of the subject in this key stage improves student achievement and enhances the status of the subject. Therefore, this syllabus requires pupils to follow an accredited course in RE which is provided by a recognised exam board, and which builds on the multi-disciplinary approach advocated in EYFS to Key Stage 3.”
Whilst there will be one lesson per week for all year groups from September 2020, the new statutory requirements for PSHE and RSHE mean that there would not be sufficient time to run and accredited course for KS4, unless students have chosen RE as an option (these students will follow the full course and be entered for the examination). A learning map has been produced which combines all of the statutory coverage for PSHE and RSHE with relevant units/topics from the AQA Religious Studies Course. Whilst the RE content will not be delivered in enough depth and breadth across the key stage to allow for examination entry, it does allow core students to study key religious, moral, and social issues from the point of view of Christianity and Islam. For example, the AQA syllabus offers different themes for study, one of which is “Relationships and Family Life”, which perfectly complements the RSHE dimension of the Scheme of Learning, allowing for considerable cross-pollination and the examination of different perspectives. This process will further help to develop religious literacy.