Whole school RE

Linda Radcliffe, an RE co-ordinator at Barnehurst Infant School in Kent, developed a radical approach to the teaching of RE across a single key stage. Here she explains what her school does and why they find it helpful.

Four years ago I was asked to reorganise the way RE was taught in our infants school.

Many excellent teachers lack the assurance to teach RE confidently due to their own personal dilemmas concerning belief and faith. Therefore, I decided to teach the whole school RE in the hall once a week for thirty minutes and then provide differentiated activity sheets and ideas for teachers to use with their pupils during a thirty minute follow-up lesson, thus spending the recommended five per cent of our timetable on RE.

It is essential that RE promotes inclusion; hence staff and pupils alike participate in the lessons, including:

  • The fun and laughter generated by our resident RE puppet, affectionately known by all as Kevin the Crow!
  • The donning, when appropriate, of tea towel, plaited rope and 'cloak' in order to participate in our RE plays
  • The invitation to contribute to lists of ideas or help to illustrate parts of the story
  • The hot seating of biblical characters, whether the volunteer be pupil or teacher!
  • The exploration of religious artefacts
  • The consumption of festival food
  • The special times of stillness and quiet reflection

Within our school community there is daily evidence that spiritual awareness grows and develops throughout life during both happy and sad times. It must begin with pupils' own experience and illustrates the need to not only learn about religion but also learn from it.

The whole school contributes to our centrally placed RE display board. The artefacts, games and literature which relate to that week's teaching are displayed for all and can be taken by the teachers into their rooms for closer examination during the follow-up lesson. Thus the money allocated for RE goes further as we purchase only one of any given artefact or publication. This allows more to be spent on theatre groups, relevant speakers or visiting places of religious significance, these being the events from which memories are often made.

The effort and responsibility for planning and delivering a weekly lesson and providing relevant, differentiated follow-up activities has proved worthwhile. When helping to develop spiritual awareness that results in an environment where mutual tolerance, appreciation, respect and sensitivity towards others pervade, it has become evident that far more is 'caught' than taught!