RE in the Church of England School Good RE can make an important contribution to the achievements and ethos of an Anglican school. Quality RE in the Church of England school makes space for pupils to explore questions and makes the resources of the Christian tradition available to them. RE can enable the spiritual development of any or all pupils through a reflective and thoughtful study of Christianity, the Bible and of religious and spiritual ideas. RE takes the personal worth of every child, and the family culture of each seriously, seeking to explore religious ideas and emotions in ways that are authentic and have integrity It offers opportunities for children to think for themselves, and be broad minded and open hearted in their encounters with Christian faith and human meaning: RE encourages children to think for themselves.
Tears, question marks, leaves and light bulbs: 23 Frameworks for Reflection in RE Nearly two dozen simple and flexible ways of helping pupils to reflect on issues and spiritual questions in RE lessons Good lessons need these kinds of activity to stimulate learning from religion and to enable reflective skills to develop. Good learning frames reflective RE’s potential for learning for personal growth and for spiritual development.
Rainbows Colours and diversity. Promises Hope through trials Natural beauty Working on the Noah story, children finish their study with a rainbow outline on card, by writing ‘7 Hopes for a Better World’ (for myself, my family, my class, my town, my country, my world and one more) in pairs. They collage the colours. The rainbows are cut out and hung from coat hangers on the classroom ceiling as mobiles.
Jacob is 14, from Ashfield Special School: “My rainbow has seven colours. I am hoping my mum has a good day and my cat is safe”
Hands Touching Connecting with others Caring and helping Work Love in action Use a ‘drawn round’ hand to write five words that show care, mutuality, work: What sums up Mother Teresa’s work for others? What five things would Muslims say Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did best? What five things can people in conflict do to build peace? Or write inside the hand words that describe ‘how I see myself’ and round the outside some ‘ways other people see me’.
Good learning engages with the world, social and moral issues, and faith from the learners’ own point of view, as these two 13 year olds show.
Tear drops Sadness Suffering Bitterness ‘A good cry’ Tragedy At the end of a unit on why people suffer, pupils take a big blue cut-out tear drop, and write a meditation or reflection or prayer (let them choose) on the theme ‘Who helps the suffering?’ Pre-print onto it a quote from Jesus (‘Come to me all you weary…’) or the Buddha (‘Compassion to every living being…’) and they will think about the meaning as they work.
A mobile phone Messengers and messages Angels Prayer Communicat ion Roles of angels in the first revelation of the Holy Qur’an and the Christmas story have been explored in stories and thinking. Pupils take a mobile phone illustration, and create 5 messages to the human race, from the angel of mercy, the angel of good news, the angel of death, the angel of hope and the fallen angel – this expresses visions of life in a reflective and interesting way. What would the angels say to the humans today?
The aims of Religious Education in church schools are: To enable pupils to encounter Christianity as the religion that shaped British culture and heritage and influences the lives of millions of people today To enable pupils to learn about the other major religions, their impact on culture and politics, art and history, and on the lives of their adherents To develop understanding of religious faith as the search for and expression of truth To contribute to the development of pupils’ own spiritual/philosophical convictions, exploring and enriching their own faith and beliefs National Society for Promoting RE Statement of Entitlement
Calm1 2 3 4 5 6 Energetic Simple1 2 3 4 5 6Complex Ancient1 2 3 4 5 6Modern Detailed1 2 3 4 5 6Sketchy Easy1 2 3 4 5 6Difficult Accurate to the Bible 1 2 3 4 5 6 Far from the Bible story Clear1 2 3 4 5 6Mysterious Not very moving 1 2 3 4 5 6 Spiritually powerful Imaginative1 2 3 4 5 6Literal Peaceful1 2 3 4 5 6Disturbing Rational1 2 3 4 5 6Emotional ???1 2 3 4 5 6??? Judgement tasks are a powerful part of moving learners beyond information. Use the 12 alternatives to respond with our judgements to the picture you have. Note that the time spent on this enables visual learning to be focused: Look + Think = Learn
Antonia Rolls, 1990 “Jesus on the tube” Picturing Jesus: Fresh Ideas RE Today19
David, 7, “I think if Jesus came to Earth today he would be a lollipop person, because he helps everyone and is always helping us to be happy.”
‘The Last Supper’ by 9 year old Harry. He says “The Last supper was happy even though it was the last supper. I have done the darkness closing in.”
24 Carol is 7. In her piece of work, she is speculating about the arrival of Jesus in her own community (Thurmaston is a suburb of Leicester, UK). The work reflects her knowledge of stories of Jesus as a person who is a worshipper, who believes in God as ‘father’, who has fishermen as disciples, and who helps those in trouble. This is a lot of learning!
Nathan, 10, is able to explain and perhaps interpret the story of the feeding of five thousand creatively for himself, and shows a well developed understanding of the meaning and power of miracle stories.
Making it happen with your learners Use the ideas from NATRE’s ‘Art in Heaven’ competition (www.natre.org.uk/spiritedarts).www.natre.org.uk/spiritedarts Select the Gospel stories you want to use carefully – give a choice. Ask learners to work out their own ‘turning points’ to illustrate stories of their choice. Give time and space to work. Ask for written notes on the learners’ art. Use ‘Picturing Jesus’ for inspiration. Would all Anglican schools do well to use a competition like Art in Heaven? Would you like to offer it to pupils in your school?
Body & Soul Celebrating life and love By Tyler, Age 9 “I’ve drawn two people starting their journey of love together. On their journey they may have times to celebrate, like each others’ birthdays, their wedding, and having little children. Love will get them through life.” Why do you think Tyler made the people so small in his picture, and the trees so large? Do you think the trees are symbols of something?
Friendliness, peace, thoughtfulness: Purposes of sacred space? Before the visit, ask pupils to think about the school building and grounds. Where in school is the friendliest place, the most thoughtful place, the most peaceful place? When the class are agreed about this, take them to these three places, and do something friendly at the friendly place (Affirmation exercise? Group hug?), something thoughtful at the thoughtful place (Read out some poems? Ask big questions?) and something peaceful at the peaceful place (listen to music? Gaze into the clouds?). Record this activity with a digital camera – get the children to do this.
At the church, concentrate on: Purposes: make sure that the enquiry is not just into the outward features of religion. Remind the children of the friendly, peaceful and thoughtful places in school (above). Ask them to agree which places in the holy building are the most friendly, peaceful and thoughtful – this is about the reasons why worshippers come to the place. Ask them also to think: where would be the best place in the building for believers to feel close to God? How can you tell? Why? Again, digital photos of these four places are a great way to record what the children learned and thought about. Outcomes from the work done on a visit Time to follow up. Teachers might plan to use literacy, art and RE lessons creatively following the visit. Don’t let the experience go cold before following up the thinking. Creative, thoughtful, written: ask pupils to make a record / recount of the trip, but also encourage them in every way to do creative writing and artwork that draws on the experience of the visit. E.g: suppose the place of worship was destroyed: what the community do? If you could choose four things from the place of worship to explain its importance, what would you choose and how would you explain? Imagine the building is personified (Y6 literacy) What story could it tell of ‘A week in my life’?
“We chose the old font for a friendly place because it is where every baby is welcomed into church. It’s been used for hundreds of years”
A thoughtful place. “Because when you look up to the top it makes you wonder if God is there.” Sam, 10.
A peaceful place in the church: set up by pupils in year 5. They were asked: what seven words sum up what the church is trying to do for its community? They said: “Co-operation Sharing Action Responsibility Inspiration Challenge Response” “The tins of food and the circle of chairs show how the Christians in this community share with people in need. That’s a good way of making peace This layout of a circle of chairs and the food people gave for Harvest is our peaceful photo.”
God’s presence: “You might feel close to God if you look at the candle because Christians think God is the light of the world” Aiden, 11.
RE (when it’s good) Spiritual and philosophical Exploratory, investigative and driven by curiosity As powerful in clarifying identity as it is in celebrating diversity As much about pupils’ views and self expression as about religion understood Creative, rigorous and inspiring Connected to other learning and to real life Enjoyable because it’s excellent Ahead of our society and of our churches, not adrift of our educational system