In the life of faith of the Catholic school, Religious Education plays a vital part.”1 (Religious Education in Catholic Schools, Bishops’ Conference, 2000). At the heart of Catholic Education lies the Christian vision of the human person. This vision is explored and expressed in Religious Education; therefore, Religious Education is the foundation of the entire education process. At St. Thomas of Canterbury School, Religious Education is the core subject, at the heart of everything we do.
“The outcome will be to produce religiously literate young people with the knowledge, understanding and skills – appropriate to their age and capacity – to think spiritually, ethically and theologically, and who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life” (Religious Education in Catholic Schools, Bishops’ Conference, 1996)
We expect what is taught in Religious Education to be reflected in the daily life and values experienced by our children in school and hopefully in their homes and the wider parish community.
According to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Aims of Religious Education are:
- Knowledge and understanding of the Catholic Faith and Life
- Knowledge and understanding of the response of faith to the ultimate questions about human life, its origin and purpose
- The skills required to engage in examination of and reflection upon religious beliefs and practice.
Its objectives are:
- To develop knowledge and understanding of the mystery of God, Jesus Christ, the Church and its central beliefs
- To develop awareness and appreciation of Catholic belief and its impact on personal and social behaviour and the relationships between faith and life and life and faith
- To encourage study, investigation and reflection by the pupils
- To develop appropriate skills e.g. the ability to listen and the ability to acquire knowledge
- To foster appropriate attitudes: e.g. respect for truth
Religious Education makes up at least 10% of our teaching time. “Come and See” scheme of work forms the basis of our curriculum for Religious Education and this is supplemented with a variety of other resources. The Bible is of course a vital resource for our school life. We aim to deliver the objectives within our scheme of work in the most creative and engaging ways possible. This could include writing, reading, art, drama, debate and the use of ICT. Cross curricular approaches to Religious Education are encouraged e.g. R.E through literacy – using a religious topic for the basis of a Big Write; using religious work as a stimulus for art work; using ICT to research aspects of Religious Education.
This year we have taken part in a national educational project called “Building the Kingdom”, the focus of which is place Religious Education right at the centre of the curriculum by using important feasts and seasons of the Liturgical year as a theme for the children’s cross curricular work. These feasts have included: Our Lady’s Birthday, All Saints and All Soul’s, Christ the King, Lent and Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost.
Reflection is an important aspect of religious education, and we provide opportunities for this, even our very youngest children.
Eucharist, Prayer, Worship and Services
School and class masses, class assemblies and celebrations such as Nativity plays, Carol and Lenten Services and the Parish sacramental programme form an integral part of the Religious Education of our children and we are rightly proud of the very high standards of such celebrations. The children are a central part of our services so we encourage as much participation and involvement as possible, by for instance having children from across the school reading, miming preparing work or programmes for the services and celebrations
Each class has a prominent prayer focus area, which is regularly changed to reflect the RE topic/ the Church’s year or a particular focus for the class or school. This allows the children to see the importance of prayer in our daily lives. We are developing prayer stations around our school to further this.
We also have a prayer corner in our library, which is used for smaller group assemblies and is a focus for our child-led prayer group, who meet weekly. It is also a space for quiet reflection, which children or staff can choose to use.
Work with Parish Priest
We are fortunate that our Parish Priest is willing to support our work in school and our links with the parish. This includes visiting our school on Thursday mornings to “meet and greet” and to work with and help prepare Mass with each class before celebrating Mass with that class and the parish.