The Plymouth Agreed Syllabus 2019 asserts the importance and value of religious and worldviews education for all pupils, with on-going benefits for an open, articulate and understanding society.
The following purpose statements underpin the syllabus, which is constructed to support pupils and teachers in fulfilling them:
• Religious education contributes dynamically to children and young people’s education in schools by provoking challenging questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, ultimate reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human.
• In RE pupils learn about religions and beliefs in local, national and global contexts, to discover, explore and consider different answers to these questions.
• Pupils learn to weigh up the value of wisdom from different sources, to develop and express their insights in response and to agree or disagree respectfully.
• Teaching therefore should equip pupils with systematic knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and beliefs, enabling them to develop their ideas, values and identities.
• RE should develop in pupils an aptitude for dialogue so that they can participate positively in our society, with its diverse religions and beliefs.
• Pupils should gain and deploy the skills needed to understand, interpret and evaluate texts, sources of wisdom and authority and other evidence. They should learn to articulate clearly and coherently their personal beliefs, ideas, values and experiences while respecting the right of others to differ. The purpose of RE is captured in the principal aim, which is intended to be a shorthand version for day-to-day use. It should be considered as a doorway into the wider purpose articulated above.
The principal aim of religious education is to 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 religion and belief, reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living.
The aims of RE
The threefold aim of RE elaborates the principal aim.
The curriculum for RE aims to ensure that all pupils:
1. make sense of a range of religious and non-religious beliefs, so that they can:
• identify, describe, explain and analyse beliefs and concepts in the context of living religions, using appropriate vocabulary
• explain how and why these beliefs are understood in different ways, by individuals and within communities
• recognise how and why sources of authority (e.g. texts, teachings, traditions, leaders) are used, expressed and interpreted in different ways, developing skills of interpretation
2. understand the impact and significance of religious and non-religious beliefs so that they can:
• examine and explain how and why people express their beliefs in diverse ways
• recognise and account for ways in which people put their beliefs into action in diverse ways, in their everyday lives, within their communities and in the wider world
• appreciate and appraise the significance of different ways of life and ways of expressing meaning
3. make connections between religious and non-religious beliefs, concepts, practices and ideas studied, so that they can:
• evaluate, reflect on and enquire into key concepts and questions studied, responding thoughtfully and creatively, giving good reasons for their responses
• challenge the ideas studied, and allow the ideas studied to challenge their own thinking, articulating beliefs, values and commitments clearly in response
• discern possible connections between the ideas studied and their own ways of understanding the world, expressing their critical responses and personal reflections with increasing clarity and understanding
This agreed syllabus requires that all pupils develop an understanding of Christianity in each key stage. In addition, across the age range, pupils will develop understanding of the principal religions represented in the UK, in line with the law. These are Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Judaism. Furthermore, children from families where non-religious worldviews are held are represented in almost all of our classrooms. These worldviews, including for example Humanism, will also be the focus for study in thematic units.
Pupils are to study in-depth the religious traditions of the following groups:
Children will encounter Christianity and other faiths, as part of their growing sense of self, their own community and their place within it. Consideration of other religions and nonreligious worldviews can occur at any key stage, as appropriate to the school context.
Key Stage 1 Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Key Stage 2 Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews (including Buddhism, Jehovah witnesses and non-religious views – Humanism)
Plymouth Agreed Syllabus for RE 2019–2024 is designed to support schools in developing and delivering excellence in RE. It responds to national calls for deepening pupils’ knowledge about religions and for developing their ‘religious literacy’.It does this by studying one religion at a time (‘systematic’ units), and then including ‘thematic’ units, which build on learning by comparing the religions, beliefs and practices studied. In order to support teachers in exploring the selected beliefs, this syllabus sets out an underlying teaching and learning approach, whereby pupils encounter core concepts in religions and beliefs in a coherent way, developing their understanding and their ability to handle questions of religion and belief. The teaching and learning approach has three core elements, which are woven together to provide breadth and balance within teaching and learning about religions and beliefs, underpinning the aims of RE outlined. Teaching and learning in the classroom will encompass all three elements, allowing for overlap between elements as suits the religion, concept and question being explored. These elements set the context for open exploration of religion and belief. They offer a structure through which pupils can encounter diverse religious traditions alongside non-religious worldviews – which reflect the backgrounds of many pupils in our schools. The elements present a broad and flexible strategy that allows for different traditions to be treated with integrity. These elements offer a route through each unit while also allowing for a range of questions reflecting different approaches, for example, from religious studies, philosophy, sociology, ethics and theology.