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Why RE matters

RE ‘should explore the important role that religious and non-religious world views play in all human life. This is an essential area of study if pupils are to be well prepared for life in a world where controversy over such matters is pervasive and where many people lack the knowledge to make their own informed decisions. It is a subject for all pupils, whatever their own family background and personal beliefs and practices.’ Commission on RE, September 2018.

Good RE teaches about a range of religious and non-religious world views, enhancing understanding and cultivating mutual respect and tolerance. It offers time and space, allowing students to reflect on their own thoughts, providing opportunities to raise questions for themselves and others. It encourages them to think about their experiences and how they respond to others and the world around them. Ultimately, it has the potential to contribute towards community cohesion and the shaping of society for a better future.

We all share a common humanity and we share this patch of the Earth. Human beings are strengthened and empowered by learning from each other. So, through experience and culture, it is possible to explore the opportunities, challenges, and purpose of our individual lives and communities. Engaging and stimulating RE helps to nurture informed and resilient responses to misunderstanding, stereotyping and division. It offers a place in the curriculum where difficult or ‘risky’ questions can be tackled within a safe but challenging context. Primarily, the purpose of RE at Carlton Primary is to give pupils a broad understanding of Christianity, world faiths and nonreligious beliefs; this is sometimes referred to as religious literacy. It is essential that the curriculum ensures that there is both depth of study (some areas investigated in detail) and breadth (an overall general understanding of the faiths and related philosophical and ethical questions). Properly taught, RE is a rigorous academic subject, supporting problem-solving and critical thinking skills. There are additional benefits from the balanced study of RE. It nurtures SMSC development and pupils’ understanding of diversity. The Leeds Agreed Syllabus deliberately integrates religious studies with aspects of philosophical questions and ethical issues. It also embraces the reality that beliefs are not always linked to faith a transcendent deity. RE can contribute dynamically to children and young people’s education 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.

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