Religious Education

Welcome to Religious Education at St Mary's!

The school mission statement underpins everything we teach and learn at St Mary’s.

To realise the potential in all by creating a community of unique individuals who are guided by a shared light.

“I can do this through him who gives me strength.” 

Philippians 4:13

At St Mary’s we believe that the purpose of Religious Education is to enable children to  become religiously literate or to develop their existing religious literacy. This is the ability to hold balanced and informed conversations about religions and beliefs. We nurture this ability through exploring the big questions about life, to find out what people believe and what difference that makes to how they live, so that pupils can make sense of religion, reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living.

RE aims:

  • to provide for all pupils to learn and achieve
  • to promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life

Christianity and other world religions are explored as living world faiths through core concepts using an enquiry approach. We use Understanding Christianity as a resource alongside the syllabus and guidance from the Diocese of Durham & Newcastle to create a St Mary’s curriculum which reflects the Anglican foundation of our school. Each topic and lesson has a question which leads to an enquiry of learning. We support children to look beyond themselves and consider the ‘Big Questions’ during lessons and Wonder Days, through visits and visitors, the outdoors and a variety of media and technology e.g. Email a Believer, VR technology, green screen drama. Religious Education at St Mary’s gives children the opportunity to think about relevant issues locally and globally and supports children to become citizens of the world.

Follow the button for the topics we have planned for 2020/2021:

Religious Education at St Mary's

In Early Years, the children learn primarily about Christianity, although other festivals and occasions are recognised and celebrated throughout the year that are important to our local area. They will explore key beliefs through Christmas and Easter, special places (like the Church) and special stories. In Early Years the children use cooking, role play, the outdoors and art to immerse themselves in experiences.

In Years 1 & 2 the children learn about Christianity and Islam. They will explore different texts from the Bible e.g. a parable about Jesus’ life and will give clear accounts of what they mean to Christians. Building on this, the children will explore ways that believers show their beliefs in practice in worship and will get the chance to think, talk and ask questions exploring different ideas.

We make use of a range of learning opportunities including VR technology to immerse the children in experiences across the globe and the outdoors e.g. a walk through Newfields to search for signs that Christmas is coming.

In Y3, children learn about Christianity and Hinduism. They will become more familiar with core concepts including Creation and Salvation and can describe some religious beliefs and practices. They will begin to compare their own experiences to others and will find meaning in artefacts, works of art, music and poetry.

We will use ‘Email a believer’ to investigate if Comic Relief is bigger than Easter and give the children the chance to explore being a steward in a real-life context.

In Y4, Christianity and Sikhism will be explored. Pupils will begin to understand how texts can be interpreted in different ways and interpret religious language. They will ask questions about significant figures, events, experiences and matters of right and wrong.

The children will also use VR technology and research to investigate how the same festival is celebrated differently around the world and how effective a global community is. They will also use Green Screen role play to engage with texts e.g. a news report about the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Religious Education beyond the classroom

We worked as a whole school to create our own ‘Big Frieze’ or ‘Big Bible Story Timeline’. Each class took a concept from the Bible e.g. God, Creation, People of God, Incarnation, Gospel, Salvation or Kingdom of God and were challenged to create a picture to represent it, giving reference to key Bible stories. Deepening the understanding of the stories within the Bible, helps to give context and background to the children’s learning.

At the heart of our school, we have a ‘Prayer Space’ which is an area aside from our classroom to explore questions, spirituality and faith in a safe, creative and interactive way. We take a broadly Christian perspective as a starting point, and give the children an opportunity to develop skills of personal reflection. Miss Pearson and a group of Y4 ambassadors run the space during lunch time and all children are welcome to take part in a range of activities.

Every term we have an RE Wonder Day which allows us to explore ‘Big Questions’ further outside of lessons. We have a whole school collective worship (often lead by a visitor e.g. Barnabas) that introduces the theme for the day. In classes, the children are given the opportunity to reflect, discuss and wonder before working on a piece of work to show what they have explored. In the past Wonder Day themes have included ‘Who is my neighbour?’ which lead to modern retelling of the ‘Good Samaritan’ using stop motion animation and baking ‘helping hands’ to share with families and friends at home.

During one of our ‘Wonder Days’ last year, the children entered an international ‘Spirited Arts‘ competition run by the NATRE (National Association of Teachers of Religious Education). This year saw over 40,000 entries in 5 different categories and we are incredibly proud and pleased to announce that two of our fantastic entries are among a very small selection of winners!

Miss Allan’s class explored ‘Questions, Questions’ and created some beautiful butterflies with questions on each part of the wing about our world, God and beyond. Miss Murray’s class worked collaboratively on the theme of ‘Pilgrimages & Journeys’ taking inspiration from our local area and Lindisfarne. We are over the moon with how hard all the children worked to create such interesting, inspirational pieces of art that are now displayed in our Prayer Space corridor and are online to be viewed by anyone on the NATRE website.

Below are some examples of the fantastic work we are so proud to have produced – thank you to everyone involved!

Being a good global neighbour is more than just feeling bad for people who are suffering misfortune – it is about making a difference in their lives. One way this can be done is through courageous advocacy. The children have been developing their advocacy skills by directly engaging with decision-makers and raising awareness about a range of issues we feel strongly about.

Our school council, who worked with Mrs Patterson the school cook prepared our home grown veg to donate to the Northern Soul kitchen in Berwick who run a ‘pay-what-you-can’ approach and provide food for local people in need.
A great idea that means everyone can share in our green finger successes.
The children asked to raise money for a special charity that means a lot to lots of people in our St Mary’s family. We made a fantastic £225.61 for the charity. Thank you to everyone who came to our MacMillan coffee morning in September.

During RE some of our KS2 children investigated charities around the world and locally. They surveyed children throughout school to choose a group in need of support and the charity chosen was Children In Need. Our children felt that we are in a lucky situation and have a lot to be grateful for so would like to improve the lives of other children in anyway we can. We explored children around the world using the Christian Aid resources in our Prayer Space and raised a donation for a certain yellow fluffy visitor!

We recently won an award from Better Energy Schools for our learning about sustainability topics locally, nationally and with a global view. Our learning has included researching deforestation in the Amazon and writing persuasive letters, creating orangutan art work to raise awareness of their need for conservation, investigating plastic pollution in the ocean in partnership with Swan Leisure Centre, recycled art and inviting our MP into school to discuss our issues and ask questions. We have worked incredibly hard and passionately and we believe that if everyone makes a small change, great things can happen. ‘The future is not yet written, but [we’ll] make sure it’s ours’ (Greenpeace).

To have a secure understanding of what courageous advocacy is each class learns about a courageous advocate either past or present, that have faced injustice and had to overcome barriers in order to help others. There are opportunities across the curriculum to engage with this including Computing, History and PSHE and the children share their learning with others by creating a video that is shared with peers and parents.

Click on the buttons below for some Religious Education activities you can share at home.