Religious Education

‘An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.’ (Proverbs 18:15) 

Our RE lead is Miss Pearson.

At St Mary’s we believe that the purpose of Religious Education is to enable children to  develop their own religious literacy so they can hold balanced and informed conversations about the diverse society we live in. Teaching therefore equips pupils with systematic knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and beliefs, enabling them to develop and reflect on their own ideas, values and identities.

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.

Through RE, the children explore what people believe and what difference this makes to how they live, so that pupils can gain the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to handle questions raised by belief and religion reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living.

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 Northumberland SACRE 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. visits and visitors, 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.

 Download below for the topics we have planned for 2023/2024:

RE Overview 2023/2024

Early Years

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.

Key Stage 1

In Years 1 & 2 the children learn about Christians, Muslims and Jews. 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 online 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 our local area. In this sense the children become aware that Christianity is a global faith and that some Christians celebrate festivals in different ways. They also begin to investigate the impact of beliefs and make connections to themselves and between beliefs which is built on into KS2.

Key Stage 2

In Years 3 & 4 the children learn about Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews. They will become more familiar with core concepts in Christianity 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.

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 use research to investigate how the same festival is celebrated differently around the world and how effective a global community is and begin to conduct their own research to investigate the significance of festivals to our local community or if Comic Relief is bigger than Easter and give the children the chance to explore being a steward in a real-life context.

Religious Education beyond the classroom

Our Big Bible Story Timeline

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.

Prayer Space

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 or theme (for example Christian Aid's Global Neighbour's themes such as Climate Justice) 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.

RE Wonder Days

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. North East Sikh Service) 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 World Religion Day where we explored what people of different faiths might have in common, talk about if they came to a 'tea party' or work together for a greater good for example to improve pollution. 

Spirited Arts Competition

During one of our ‘Wonder Days’ each year, the children enter an international ‘Spirited Arts‘ competition run by the NATRE (National Association of Teachers of Religious Education). Each year sees 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!

Our winning entries, ‘Questions, Questions’ which included some beautiful butterflies with questions on each part of the wing about our world, God and beyond and a collaborative piece on the theme of ‘Pilgrimages & Journeys’ taking inspiration from our local area and Lindisfarne are published among the other interesting, inspirational pieces of art online on the NATRE gallery. 

Click here to see our entries among the other winners. 

Courageous Advocacy

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 Global Neighbours report highlighted this strength and saw that there was a "Commitment to raising awareness of environmental issues and exploring appropriate action for change is at the heart of school life and is reflected in their Platinum Green
Schools award. Excellent use of visitors from Greenpeace acted as a stimulus to raise awareness of exploitation of the natural world. This became a springboard for appropriate, pupil led action, including letter writing and a fruitful audience with their local MP. This work was important in showing pupils that they have a voice and can use it to make a difference." 

The children learn about issues of injustice across the curriculum and pupils in all year groups are provided with opportunities to explore a global perspective in a variety of curriculum areas. We also use Philosophy for Children to stretch and challenge our children to explore ‘big questions’ and reflect upon making a difference and what the impact of this might be.

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 £110  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 the Archbishop of York Young Leaders Award which helped to build the pupil's leadership and character skills. grow confidence, teamwork, resilience and care for others and empowered our children to serve the community through a social action project of their own choice. The children chose to work with a local group called the Memory Laners, visiting them, inviting them into their school and organising a range of different activities and events throughout the year. They learnt from the Memory Laners about Berwick in the past and talked with them about what they had been learning about in school. They created music together and taught each other dances including the Charleston and the floss! The children helped the Memory Laners with Christmas quizzes and at Easter to support their celebrations. For a summer celebration the children and Memory Laners had a summer show.  

The work of the children was shared through social media to enable the whole community to see the positive impact that children working with the older generation can bring. The children's project was also recognised and published on the Young Leader's Website below: 

Click here for the link to our feature on the Archbishop of York Young Leader's website. 

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, Geography, History and PSHE and the children share their learning with others regularly. 

Working with the Church

We work closely with the local church and representatives from churches that enable the children to see Christianity as a living and diverse faith. Rev Sample visits regularly to deliver worship as part of our Collective Worship schedule inline with celebration events e.g. advent services and each class visits the church termly as part of RE sessions or to support and deliver services like communion. 

Years 1 and 2 enjoyed a trip to the Church as part of our RE learning. We looked for signs of advent and preparations for Christmas in Newfields, the community and Holy Trinity & St Mary's Church. The children photographed and made sketches of the signs they saw including star decorations that reminded them of the star from the Nativity story nativity scenes animals from the story and an advent wreath the children also asked Rev Sample about how the church worships at Advent and at Christmas. 

Reverend Quilty also visited to deliver a Remebrance Day service to help us commemorate as part of one of our RE Wonder Days. We learned about the importance of remembering important people from our past and how these memories can help us learn today. We were all given a heart to hold while we remembered positive memories from our own lives. After the service, we learned more about Remembrance Day and about the different coloured poppies and their meanings taking part in different crafts to reflect on the importance of the symbol of the poppy. 

Information for Parents

To support your child’s learning, we have made a set of knowledge organisers that will be used in the classroom but can also support home learning. They contain key vocabulary that will be covered, key knowledge points, the concept covered that half term and the ‘Big Story of the Bible’ timeline for Christianity units.

We have attached an example from each year group below of the knowledge organisers we use to support the children's learning in RE and beyond. 

Easter Knowledge Organisers
Click on the links below for some Religious Education activities you can share at home.