What makes the Religious Education curriculum so special?
Religious Education at Castle Mead Academy is rich, diverse and challenging. The topics the scholars learn, such as RE Live, Religion in the 21st Century and The Island Project are created specifically for Castle Mead Academy. The curriculum is centred around the concept of big ideas and has been drawn from The Big Ideas Curriculum along with some inspiration from locally agreed syllabi such as the Norfolk Agreed Syllabus. This curriculum is a recent research project completed through the University of Exeter’s graduate school of education and allows schools to create their own syllabus based around the concept that big ideas are common destinations or goals that we want scholars to meet that can be approached in a variety of ways, promoting transferability of knowledge. For example, Big Idea 1 is continuity, change and diversity. This focusses on common features of religion such as symbolism (continuity), the many different people within a belief that will all be slightly different (diversity) and the idea that religion is constantly changing (change). This big idea therefore underpins the Castle Mead topic of The Island project that explores similarities and differences within religion but also explores the individual scholar’s world view. It is the concept that scholars learn about the context surrounding religious education to enable them to link their powerful knowledge. This extract from the Big Ideas Curriculum explains this well:
“Big Ideas perform a similar role in students’ learning as concepts in that they are ‘pegs’ on which students can hang the myriad pieces of knowledge they acquire over the years of RE study in order to make sense of them. For example, students learning about the creation stories in Genesis will probably ‘hook’ them to Big Idea 5 and Big Idea 6. This takes them way beyond the customary activity of illustrating the six days of creation to an understanding that in Judaism and Christianity these stories should not be learnt in isolation but understood as the beginning of grand narratives that explain theories of the origin and destiny of the universe and where humanity stands in those narratives (BI6)” Big Ideas for Religious Education, Barbara Wintersgill 2017.
The Castle Mead Academy Religious Education curriculum allows scholars to explore the idea that we all have a worldview and the concept that ‘nobody stands nowhere’. The highlight of the curriculum is the way it is related to real life. The scholars get the opportunity to explore current RE with real life examples through topics such as RE Live, where scholars explore current news stories relating to religion and learn the context around that story to learn from religion rather than just about religion.
How is the Religious Education curriculum enacted in a way that honours its beauty, richness and distinctiveness?
The way in which the Religious Education curriculum is enacted allows the scholars to appreciate the richness of the subject. This is created through fostering a safe space for discussion, debate and sharing of opinions and experiences. The Religious Education Curriculum relies on this sharing of experiences to enrich the learning of all scholars and allow them to see the differences and similarities between themselves.
Religious Education at CMA is unique in that it deals with the opinions and life experiences of scholars, information that is historical or factual, global awareness of issues, language interpretation For example, Sanskrit or Arabic and the skills of analysis, evaluation, description and fact retrieval. This makes Religious Education a holistic subject that is all encompassing and even more so through our enriching curriculum offer. The curriculum also gives opportunity to learn a rich substantive knowledge base that explores a wide variety of concepts such as the key facts around the 6 major world religions, the core ideas of alternative beliefs like humanism, Jainism and Jehovah’s Witnesses and the wider world concepts such as genocide, stewardship and the afterlife.
How does the Religious Education curriculum equip scholars with knowledge that provides them with new ways of thinking about the world and has the capacity to take them beyond their own original experiences?
The Castle Mead Academy Religious Education curriculum equips scholars with knowledge that empowers them beyond their own experiences and beyond CMA. Without this subject, scholars would be less equipped to deal with differences between themselves, less able to articulate their own viewpoint without causing offence and as a result less able to access the world beyond Castle Mead Academy. The subject allows them to explore their opinions but also learn to be considerate of others and at the same time analyse and evaluate information. Religious Education is multidisciplinary meaning that if a scholar is religious and therefore has good knowledge of their own theological thinking, they will be challenged by philosophical arguments or issues relating to the human and social sciences or if a scholar is non-religious but is aware of the news, they will be challenged by the theological.
Within the curriculum we study ideas such morality and philosophical theory, which allows scholars to think in ways that they have not been required to before. Challenging their own ideas and coming to justified and well thought through conclusions. They are encouraged to challenge one another, debate issues and be tolerant of the different world views they come across throughout their time in Religious Education at Castle Mead Academy.
How does the Religious Education curriculum reflect intelligent interdisciplinarity, to allow scholars to explore meaningful connections?
In the Religious Education curriculum, we never focus on one faith per topic. This allows scholars to make connections between topics as faiths will reoccur in different topic areas. Topics will have a faith that is the ‘depth’ area of the topic and a secondary faith that is the ‘encounter’ area of the topic, which is used as a comparison. The curriculum is also structured to allow scholars to build upon their ability to articulate their viewpoint so that by the end of Key Stage 3, scholars know their own worldview and can express their opinion on different matter from that perspective. This means they can use this skill throughout the topics to make connections with their own worldview also. As a multidisciplinary subject, RE will always promote the making of meaningful connections as theology, philosophy and human and social sciences will be woven through lessons, topics and years.
We also use intelligent interdisciplinarity through working with subjects such as English who may teach similar themes or ideas such as Hedonism or Poetry in Voice’s study of poets such as Rumi.
Mrs M Thornhill