Religious Education at our School
Parents are the first educators in the faith. It is they, above all others, who establish in their children the first sensitivity and responsiveness to the presence of God.
Parents as Educators
Parents are the first educators in the faith. It is they, above all others, who establish in their children the first sensitivity and responsiveness to the presence of God, to the practice of prayer and to the patterns of life in the community of faith, the parish. The foundations of life-long faith and discipleship in children are laid down in the home.
Religious Education Curriculum
In accordance with Diocesan Requirements 10% of the teaching timetable is dedicated to Religious Education. At St Thomas’ we are ensuring we meet the content requirements of the Bishops Conference Curriculum Directory by following the Islington Religious Education Scheme of Work, which we also supplement with other materials available. We also ensure that RE is assessed as rigorously as any other subject area. As a Catholic school, RE plays a central and vital part here at St Thomas’. At the heart of Catholic education lies the Christian values, with the dignity of the human person central throughout. These values are expressed and explored through religious education. RE is not taught in isolation as it is the foundation of our entire educational process and therefore permeates through our entire curriculum and the life of the school.
To see the outline of topics taught in our RE curriculum, click here.
Daily Acts of Worship
At St Thomas’, we come together in our key stages and as a whole school for different types of collective worship. Collective consists of a group of people coming together at an appropriate time, in an appropriate place intentionally to focus upon things of worth and value for the group. Collective worship gives us:
- A sense of special time
- A sense of special place
- The intention of focusing on matters of worth ‘beyond the everyday’
- A sense of occasion
Times of worship are educational, planned learning experiences. They contribute to the education of the pupils and facilitate spiritual growth and respect of each other’s religious beliefs and practices. This may be done by evoking the sense of beauty, awe, wonder or feelings of pride, pity, sharing or by exploring the spirituality of life and experience.
The purpose of Daily Acts of Worship and its benefits
It is a time to:
- Give honour and glory to God, to thank him, to listen to him, to ask for and receive forgiveness, to place our own needs and the needs of others into his hands
- Be inspired by the Person of Jesus Christ through listening to his Word
- Respond to and celebrate life
- Reflect on spiritual and moral issues
- Explore and express belief
- Experience a sense of belonging and for the school community to develop a common ethos and shared values
- Take time ‘to wonder at’, ‘to come to terms with’ and ‘to give worth to’
- Develop a sense of well being and outreach to others
- Develop skills such as reverence, reflection, interpretation and contemplation.
Whole School Worship
We come together in school to worship as a whole community weekly. On a Monday, school assemblies are led by the Headteacher , following on from the Sunday Gospel, or a relevant theme to that day. EYFS and KS1 come together and KS2 have a separate time that day so that the Gospel message can be explained at an age appropriate level. On Friday, the whole school gather together to further reflect on the messages from the assembly on Monday and also to share all together, the successes from the week – ranging from class ‘Stars of the Week’ to playground awards and house points. Father Dennis joins us for these assemblies together.
Child Led Worship
On the other days of the week, children lead class worship in their own individual classrooms. This may be based on individual prayers children have added to the class prayer book or it may be a planned ‘class worship event’ whereby children work in groups of 3/4 supported by a member of staff to then come back into class and lead the rest of the group in prayer. The themes for these follow the liturgical year and in KS1 and 2, these child led class worship sessions follow a set pattern:
Gather – the start of the worship begins with the class gathering together quietly, marked by something as simple as a bell ringing or music playing.
Word – the children listen to a piece of scripture which can be acted out, shown through a video, read from a child’s Bible or in Key Stage 2 from The Good News Bible.
Response to the Word – this involves some sort of quiet reflection on the scripture that might involve writing a prayer, meditation, or some other symbolic action.
Mission – the children are given a mission at the end of the worship, an action for children to do to help them take the Word of God with them. In EYFS each week children are invited to share a special object with their class and a thank you, sorry or please prayer they have written at home.
In his life on earth Jesus showed a respect for those within and outside his own faith community. Children today live in a fast changing global world, where communication and travel opens children to diversity and challenge. It is important that we prepare them for this. Pupils are encouraged not simply to learn facts about other religions but to also reflect upon them and gain insights from them. Children will learn:
- How members of different faiths live as a community
- How other faiths worship
At St Thomas’, we teach other faiths separately in order to avoid confusion. Comparison can lead to inaccurate teaching and does not do justice to the integrity of each religion. Comparisons may be noted by the pupils, but that will not be the starting point of teaching.
Teaching of Judaism needs special attention because of the intrinsic relationships between Christianity and Judaism - our very roots lie in Judaism. However, while it is important to teach about Jesus' Jewish background this should be taught separately from modern Judaism as a world faith. Children in Key Stage 2 also visit other places of worship which further enhances the curriculum:
Year 3 – Hindu Mandir
Year 4 – Sikh Gudwara
Year 5 – Islamic Mosque
Year 6 – Liberal Jewish Synagogue