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Awareness, Mystery and Value – Somerset SACRE

February 13, 2017

somersetThe SACREs of the South West have pooled resources and shared a syllabus for many years. More recently, one officer has taken his bat home, concerned that there is a lack of coherence in the overall RE experience of pupils and not enough subject content In this, he is in line with the sort of reforms set forth by Michael Gove but very much out of kilter with most practitioners of RE. This is a revision of the formerly shared syllabus to embody his ideas.

The units of study and religions and beliefs will remain unchanged and will continue to be available as they are now on the AMV website.

Assessment is now without levels of any kind and is based around the key beliefs of each religion with specific, measurable goals at KS1, lower KS2, upper KS2, and KS3.

Teachers are to slow down, do less, go deeper – so that no child is left behind.

New exemplars focus on the key beliefs outlined in the new assessment documents and supported by examples of children’s work.

The theology is somewhat limited – the question, ‘What was Christ’s main mission in the world?’ expects a view of atonement as the answer.

The Christian section feels as if we are stepping back into a syllabus of the 1950s. It has about 40 key beliefs – that’s one lesson for each (Key stage 4 requires 4 religions – that’s 2/3 of a week for each belief) – blink and you’ll miss it. The other faiths have a similar amount of content. The order in which they appear reflects each religion’s inner coherence rather than any expert pedagogy – it’s all about what they want the children to learn wit scant regard for how they learn.

The material on other religions is so detailed that there is simply too much to teach, despite their being options. Each key stage lists a huge list of items to be covered. These do not relate, in any obvious way, to the programmes of study and will be difficult for a trained RE teacher, let alone a non-specialist teacher to navigate.

There are some helpful sample lesson plans, though these tend to lead merely to ‘the naming of parts’. There is support for the Toledo pedagogical principles, whose focus (like this syllabus) appears to be on teaching about religions and beliefs rather than learning from them but a closer reading of the document shows that this isn’t so. However, there is littler evidence that the authors have understood these principles and, apart from the mismatch between programmes of study and assessment, most of Key Stage 3 is simply boring. Unless you engage teenagers , starting with their thought-worlds, with what excites them, you’re not going to get anywhere other than by forced-feeding.

There is little support for statutory, non-examined RE for ages 14-19. Had they now plot from their neighbouring LAs, they would have had more detailed guidance.

There is much that is helpful, though it must be said that this is mostly in the sections inherited from the other SACREs before the schism.

It is online here

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