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RE at the heart of a changing curriculum

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1 RE at the heart of a changing curriculum
Wiltshire Annual Secondary RE Conference 10 June 2010 Linking RE with Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills Dave Francis

2 Independent enquirers Effective participators
Linking RE with the PLaTS Independent enquirers Focus: Young people process and evaluate information in their investigations, planning what to do and how to go about it. They take informed and well-reasoned decisions, recognising that others have different beliefs and attitudes. Creative thinkers Focus: Young people think creatively by generating and exploring ideas, making original connections. They try different ways to tackle a problem, working with others to find imaginative solutions and outcomes that are of value. Team workers Focus: Young people work confidently with others, adapting to different contexts and taking responsibility for their own part. They listen to and take account of different views. They form collaborative relationships, resolving issues to reach agreed outcomes. Self managers Focus: Young people organise themselves, showing personal responsibility, initiative, creativity and enterprise with a commitment to learning and self- improvement. They actively embrace change, responding positively to new priorities, coping with challenges and looking for opportunities. Effective participators Focus: Young people actively engage with issues that affect them and those around them. They play a full part in the life of their school, college, workplace or wider community by taking responsible action to bring improvements for others as well as themselves. Reflective learners Focus: Young people evaluate their strengths and limitations, setting themselves realistic goals with criteria for success. They monitor their own performance and progress, inviting feedback from others and making changes to further their learning.

3 3 Disciplined curriculum innovation
– tools that help tell your story or the impact you are making 3

4 What are our learners like now?
Consider your learners’ predominant attitudes, attributes, skills, knowledge and understanding. How well are they achieving the aims of the curriculum and the five outcomes of Every Child Matters? Are they attaining the highest standards possible?

5 Where could they be? “Your school will have set out its priorities for development in the School self-evaluation form (SEF). The government has also defined national priorities for secondary schools: developing successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens; improving progress and attainment in subjects; improving pupils’ personal, learning and thinking skills and functional skills; increasing participation, enjoyment and engagement; improving behaviour and attendance; the public policy agenda – personalisation, ECM, sustainability, social cohesion, enterprise, narrowing the gap. It is not practical to try to address everything at once. Identify the most important areas for development in your school and focus on those.”

6 Curriculum Models ‘Learning to Learn’ and ‘Competency-based’ models: tendency to give priority to the PLTS over subjects. Linking subjects with the PLTS through the cross-curriculum dimensions: ‘In the very best practice, the whole-curriculum dimensions informed the rationale for developing the curriculum, both across the school and within subjects.’ Ofsted, 2009, Planning for Change. Extended subject-focused lesson time, study days, field trips and study weeks. QCA, 2007, Activities to support design and development. “Many schools plan for developing young people’s PLTS by explicitly mapping PLTS objectives into schemes of work, alongside subject-based objectives.”

7 How do we plan for PLTS? Effective planning for PLTS in religious education needs to ensure that they are embedded into sequences of work, teaching approaches and learning outcomes. The following are some questions we might ask to support the development of PLTS through religious education: Are there planned opportunities for learning and teaching, where the six PLTS can be taught, practised and reinforced in a range of contexts? Are planned experiences sufficiently ‘open’ for learners to draw on personal experiences and set themselves personal challenges? Do activities encourage learners to explore a range of settings, for example collaborative work, individual work, in the classroom, the school and events in the community? Are learners encouraged to communicate in a variety of ways? Are there opportunities to make coherent links to learning in other curriculum areas to effectively connect and enhance learners’ experiences? Are e-technologies used effectively to enable and support such learning?

8 Example 1 The teacher plans for the class to investigate why worship is important to many people and what difference it makes to their lives, and to develop team-working and reflective skills through this context. It is important for the learners to develop the skills to become increasingly independent, to make decisions and take responsibility about the direction and format of their work. Learners work in groups, taking on various roles and responsibilities that reflect individual strengths and ensuring that each group member contributes effectively. They will work over several lessons to a time-frame and will conclude by making group presentations to the whole school, which will be part of a series of special assemblies on culture and diversity. They are supported and encouraged to develop appropriate success criteria and design their own individual and group evaluation forms. They complete the forms at the end of the task to help them reflect on their contributions and identify how their enquiry might have been improved.

9 This activity involves learners in:
planning how to research the importance of worship for their chosen religious groups, including which lines of enquiry and methods to use (independent enquirers, team workers) allocating roles in welcoming and thanking their visiting faith representative and deciding on what questions to ask (team workers, creative thinkers) conducting a survey and organising a visit to a place of worship to gather information on people’s views (team working, effective participators) discussing and evaluating the evidence to agree different ways of presenting the information for maximum effect (team workers, creative thinkers) taking responsibility for the delivery of different aspects of the presentation and giving constructive feedback to each other (effective participators, team workers, reflective learners) evaluating their own performance against criteria, including their perseverance in completing the project on time and identifying targets for improvement (self-managers, reflective learners).

10 Are we achieving our aims?
In planning for progression, it is important to develop a clear picture of how learners demonstrate PLTS in the context of teaching and learning in religious education and how those skills can raise achievement in this subject. For example, learners may demonstrate that they are: making personal choices about their learning and finding ways to improve their work, for example by identifying their own questions and planning their own enquiries transferring understanding, for example of a process from one subject to another increasingly drawing on their own experiences and making connections with key concepts to develop insight, for example considering how their own values and commitments might impact on their life in school and in their community extending their understanding, for example by exploring new ideas, options and points of view, including their own, with more confidence and creativity.

11 See the film at:
Example 2 Our Year 9 students display a wide range of ability. They are used to working on cross-curricular projects which combine different subject areas and can see the relevance of this to life outside school. They enjoy planning work in groups, listen carefully to each others’ ideas and produce work of which they are proud. Our curriculum has, however, provided them with few opportunities to investigate an issue in depth and to present their work to audiences outside the school community. We wanted to devise a project for the summer term that would enable us to enhance our students’ experience of cross-curricular work by drawing on different disciplines. By emphasising key concepts, process and new ideas for content we would be able to identify genuine links between citizenship, history and RE. See the film at:

12 What differences did we want to see in our learners?
Example 3 In Year 7 students undertake a broad Humanities course, where History, Geography and RE have, in principle, two terms each of a six term year. We can mix any of these subjects in a cross-curricular project. Citizenship is taught in one lesson per fortnight, but there are opportunities in a cross-curricular project to incorporate active citizenship and to pick up some issues and activities in lesson time. What differences did we want to see in our learners? Providing compelling learning experiences would help students to develop their confidence to handle a complex range of information from different sources and the resilience to persevere with the task of linking relevant ideas from different subjects. This would nurture the independent, critical thinking skills they need and encourage them to be more proactive learners. Another area lacking in our curriculum is the way in which we create a sense of the spiritual and encourage a spiritual response. Therefore, through use of inspiring mixed media material, we hope to encourage students to reflect more deeply on the world around them and their potential impact on it. Example of St Katherine’s School, North Somerset.

13 Linking RE with the PLaTS
To link RE with the Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLaTS), it is best to start with your RE programmes of study and make connections to the PLaTS. If you do start with the PLaTS, ensure that real RE learning takes place by including assessable tasks related to the statements in your syllabus. Decide on the focus for the RE learning. Many RE syllabuses use the following fields of enquiry: A) beliefs, teachings and sources; B) practices and ways of life; C) expressing meaning; D) identity, diversity and belonging; E) meaning, purpose and truth; F) values and commitments. In order to obtain a balance between the attainment targets (or ‘processes’) of learning about and from religion, try focussing your planning on ONE of A, B or C alongside ONE of D, E or F. In order to ensure that students’ work will be assessable in RE terms, ask the three key questions: 1. What are we trying to achieve? 2. How do we organise the learning? 3. How will we know we have achieved our aims? Design a good ‘key question’ based on such RE Themes as: • ideas and questions of meaning; • authority; • religion and science; • expressing spirituality; • ethics and relationships; • rights and responsibilities; • global issues; • interfaith dialogue. RE syllabuses are arranged in different ways but may well make use of the suggested themes of the non-statutory framework for religious education. Ensure at least ONE of these is present in your plan.

14 PLaTS GO HERE! A cross-curricular planning sequence
Which cross-curricular dimension(s) will connect our subjects? What key processes or skills will this learning develop or rehearse? What key concepts in each subject will this learning enrich? PLaTS GO HERE! Issue handout: ‘The Concepts & Processes’. If you are planning a cross-curricular sequence of learning, use this planning model to include the PLaTS. If your school is organising a PLaTS-centred activity day, remember to include the other aspects of the planning process in the overall scheme. Remind delegates of the cross-curricular dimensions: • Identity and cultural diversity; • Healthy lifestyles; • Community participation; • Enterprise; • Sustainable futures and the global dimension; • Technology and the media; • Creativity and critical thinking. Once the overall plan is roughed out, more detailed activities can be planned. This is where the ‘HOTS’ come in! 2 Now consider How will we organise learning in the curriculum? What will our shared learning objectives be? How will young people demonstrate they have met our shared learning objectives? 1 The way in – Which subjects will work together? Where will this learning take place? What is the key question or relevant line of enquiry? Who are the key people we will need to involve? What resources will we need?

15 Designing Assessable Activities
Focus on TWO of the fields of enquiry and select an appropriate range of ‘can-do’ statements to guide your activity design. Here is an example of how it might work: KEY QUESTION: Can religious art change people’s lives? Focus areas: C & E PLaTS: Self-managers & Creative thinkers Context All pupils should: Most pupils should: (Majority class expectation) Some pupils could: In work on the crucifixion in Christianity and the three marks of existence in Buddhism, pupils have considered such concepts as inspiration, love, sacrifice, anatta, anicca, dukkha, and examples of Christian and Buddhist symbolism. seek advice from believers in making comparisons between two different symbols of religious belief; generate their own questions about these symbols and give answers from their own and other perspectives. by a set date, produce a portfolio of Buddhist and Christian designs with explanations linking symbolism and belief; write a summary of their own views on the most important ideas being expressed in the designs. Choose a personally challenging medium such as a poem or a multi-media presentation to interpret a favourite piece from the portfolio and hypothesise why it might help believers understand more about life’s deep questions. LEVEL DESCRIPTORS (Objectives for learning and assessment) C5 I can use a wide religious vocabulary in suggesting reasons for the similarities and differences in forms of religious, spiritual and moral expression found within and between religions. E5 I can ask questions about the meaning and purpose of life and suggest answers which relate to the search for truth and my own and others’ lives. C6 I can use correct religious and philosophical vocabulary in explaining what the significance of different forms of religious, spiritual and moral expression might be for believers. E6 I can use reasoning and examples to express insights into my own and others’ views on questions about the meaning and purpose of life and the search for truth. C7 I can use a wide religious and philosophical vocabulary as well as different of forms of expression in presenting a clear picture of how people express their religious, spiritual and ethical beliefs in a variety of ways. E7 I can give my personal view with reasons and examples on what value religious and other views might have for understanding questions about the meaning and purpose of life. For the full list of statements, see:

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