by DiscoveryRE, 22 February, 2021

Discovery RE and Curriculum for Wales and Humanities AoLE for Religion, Values and Ethics

Discovery RE and Curriculum for Wales and Humanities AoLE for Religion, Values and EthicsThe Donaldson Report (2015) stated 4 purposes which form the core of the Curriculum for Wales. These are that children and young people should be helped to become:

  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

The first part of this article aims to explain how Discovery RE can support schools in fulfilling these purposes. It will then examine the AoLE for Humanities and explain how Discovery RE can support schools in designing their own curricula for Religion, Values and Ethics.

Firstly, Discovery RE and the 4 purposes

Ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives

Throughout Discovery RE, children are given the skills to be critical and discerning thinkers with their own view of what they are learning and how it could impact on their own lives and those of the believers of the religion/worldview they are studying. The reflective aspects of each enquiry, especially within the final expression lesson, allow children to really stop and consider what the learning has meant to them and their own personal life journey. These skills of enquiry, discernment and reflection are transferable to all aspects of learning at any age. The detailed medium term planning model of Discovery RE enables teachers to challenge learners to think and question.
Background information sheets for teachers ensure that they have the core knowledge and confidence to take learning deeper, and the addition of suggested religious texts enhances this.

Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work

Because Discovery RE is an enquiry approach model, learners become used to finding different ways to research and answer the enquiry question. Teachers are free to choose activities which can showcase what the children are learning and this freedom can allow children to express their learning in creative ways, which can but do not always have to include writing. The final expression lesson of each enquiry specifically draws on the children’s creative skills and allows them to express the impact the learning has had on their own spiritual, moral and holistic journey using skills such as art and design and technology, as well as speaking and listening, writing or drama. Because Discovery RE promotes personal skills such as empathy, it will help to break down barriers in society allowing children to understand people from other religions or none and allowing our learners to play a full part in their life and work without prejudice or judging on stereotypical values.

Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world

The enquiry approach in Discovery RE allows children to answer big questions from the viewpoint of a variety of religions/world-views over the course of their lives from the ages of 3-11. These include discussion around ethical values such as commitment, belonging, how to look after the world, sharing resources, what makes us happy, what is important, forgiveness and beliefs of life after death. The cyclical nature of some of these topics allows children to revisit them as they grow in maturity and understanding, and to examine them through the teachings of different religions. This allows children to become much better informed as to the values that are shared by all the religions as well as those facets which make a faith unique in its belief. The choices of religion/worldview studied in each year group also allow teachers and schools to make decisions based on the local and wider demographic, ensuring that children have the opportunity to learn about both religions which may be very prevalent in their local area and those which they may not otherwise have the opportunity to encounter. This supports learners in developing their sense of their locality’s heritage and their own sense of place and cynefin.

Healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society

All the Discovery RE enquiries help children to examine and further reinforce their own beliefs and values both from within themselves, but also by deciding which aspects of the learning they would like to apply to their own lives. We truly believe that with Discovery RE, children are developing mentally (through the critical thinking embedded throughout the programme), emotionally (in empathy and understanding of the believers and the views and beliefs of others in the class) and spiritually (by embedding those values or aspects of the learning into their own lives that are meaningful to them), allowing them to flourish in society and to lead lives that will be both fulfilling for them but also of benefit to their communities and the wider world. The fact that children are given a safe space to speak and reflect on big questions such as these will also help their confidence in speaking and listening in other aspects of both school and adult life.

Secondly, how Discovery RE supports schools in fulfilling the Humanities AoLE?

All humanities curricula should be clearly based on the “Statements of What Matters”. How Discovery RE can support these is explained below:

Enquiry, exploration and investigation inspire curiosity about the world, its past, present and future

Discovery RE encourages enquiry and discovery in its enquiry-based approach using a 4-step modelChildren are challenged by considering the relevance in their own lives of the key question in Step 1. As the question has no right or wrong answer, the children are naturally curious and question their own and others’ initial responses.

In step 2, they amass more knowledge about the religion they are studying. They are encouraged to think critically and to reflect upon evidence in order to come to their own answer to the question and justify their response.

The variety of approaches that teachers can choose to use in the second (investigation) step of each unit, will help their learners gather a range of information and choose how to represent and evaluate it. This could be written, in a digital format, or using creative skills such as drama or art. In each of these 3 lessons, the learners are asked to draw conclusions. These may change over time, however, so learners are encouraged to revisit their findings and extend or deepen their enquiry over these lessons before giving their final answer in the following step.

Step 3 demands further critical thinking and reflection in order to come to an answer to the key enquiry question, needing children to apply the knowledge gained.

The final step (Step 4) in every enquiry is the expression lesson, where the children reflect on their learning and consider how it may have added meaning (such as given them an insight into actions they might wish to take). This will help them formulate their own beliefs, morals and view of the world.

Continued in this free PDF

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