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Statement about Religious Education (RE) and Withdrawal at Keys Meadow

09 Dec 2016

Our school community is made up of staff, pupils and their families who come from many different nationalities, cultures and faith groups.  As a school we aim to celebrate this diversity and offer a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.
Religious Education (RE) provides an opportunity to celebrate and foster awareness of the differences within our school and community and the wider world.  It is a subject that celebrates diversity, challenges stereotypes and develops a positive attitude towards other people, respecting their right to hold different beliefs from their own, and towards living in a society of many religions and beliefs.
Religious Education is an open, exploratory subject which does not assume faith or belief. The children are taught about the world’s different religions and beliefs – none are presented as the ‘right’ one.  It is never taught as fact, so for example teachers will premise any statement with “Christians (or whoever) believe that …..”
The aim is not to convert pupils to a particular viewpoint or encourage uncritical acceptance of religions (and non religious) beliefs and teachings and the way they are applied. 
RE is taught as far as possible in accordance with the Enfield Agreed Syllabus. The agreed syllabus reflects the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teachings and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain. RE is taught in accordance with the aims of this Agreed Syllabus. Particularly relevant to our school is the aim which states:
Religious Education should help pupils to develop a positive attitude towards other people, respecting their right to hold different beliefs from their own, and towards living in a society of many religions and beliefs.’
Some RE is taught through discreet units but as much as possible it is linked meaningfully into the topics we are developing as part of our school curriculum. 
RE is also taught through local, national and global events and celebrations.
Opportunities for learning in each Key Stage include:

Key Stage 1 Key Stage 2
• Study the main stories of Christianity.
• Study at least one other religion. Choose from Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism or Sikhism.
• Study other religions of interest to pupils.
• Study the beliefs, festivals and celebrations of Christianity.
• Study at least two other religions in depth. Choose from Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism or Sikhism.
• Study three of the major six religions not studied in depth in order to gain a brief outline.
• Study other religions of interest to pupils 
RE also has a leading role in contributing to the children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils and the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL). Including:
  • Providing knowledge and insight into values and beliefs
  • Encouraging the children to reflect on their own beliefs, values and experiences
  • Helping the children to understand right and wrong
  • Encouraging positive relationships and participation in the community
  • Encouraging the idea of taking responsibility for ones own actions
  • Helping children to appreciate their own cultural traditions
  • Helping the children to appreciate the diversity and richness of other cultures
 Assemblies and collective Acts of Worship tend to emphasise these themes.
Religious Education can make a significant contribution to inclusion, particularly in its focus on promoting respect for all. It is essential to help children understand that there are significant similarities and differences within and between religions.
Religious education has a lead role in combating prejudice and negative discrimination.
All the major world faiths are studied and explored.  This helps all the children understand each others faiths, views and beliefs and it encourages them to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions while exploring their own beliefs.
We believe that children (and their parents) from different faith groups can enrich the teaching of RE in schools.  They may talk about different festivals or lend their teachers artefacts and photographs, adding to the topic boxes of artefacts and photographs already collected and used in school.
National and world events sometimes thrust issues of belief, values and culture to the forefront of everyone’s attention, including our youngest pupils.  We believe RE (including assemblies) offers ALL pupils, whatever their background, a safe place to discuss and debate their own and other peoples developing beliefs and values in an environment of mutual respect.
Withdrawal from RE
We all have a responsibility to ensure RE takes place in an atmosphere that is open and respectful, free from ignorance, prejudice, bitterness and rancour.  We model these values by taking part. Withdrawal from all or part of RE in our school is therefore, in our view, a cause for regret.
However, we respect parents’ rights that their child should be wholly or partially withdrawn from taking part in any RE in the school.  We understand that parents are not obliged to give reasons for the withdrawal but hope that being given the opportunity to discuss their concerns many will want their child to continue with our approach to RE.
Parents who then still choose to withdraw their child(ren) from RE are asked to state this in writing annually to the Headteacher. 
Parents can provide material connected to their own faith for their child to work on while withdrawn from the RE offered by the school (provided it does not conflict with the fundamental values of the school as stated in the prospectus).
Otherwise children will be supervised in another classroom or outside the classroom doing reading or private study.
When religions or spiritual matters come up in other areas of the curriculum – both planned and spontaneously – this does not constitute RE in the legal sense.  Parents cannot insist that their child be withdrawn every time such issue arise as these issues are often helping the child in their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
There is also no right of withdrawal from the National Curriculum subjects if what is being studied has a bearing on religion.


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