We use Discovery RE as the basis for our RE curriculum in school. This uses an enquiry approach which makes RE exciting and engaging for both teachers and children alike. Christianity is taught in every year group, with Christmas and Easter given fresh treatment every year, developing children’s learning in a progressive way. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism are included across children's time in school.
The key question for the enquiry is such that it demands an answer that weighs up ‘evidence’ and reaches a conclusion based on this. This necessitates children using their subject knowledge and applying it to the enquiry question, rather than this knowledge being an end in itself. Discovery RE focuses on critical thinking skills, on personal reflection into the child’s own thoughts and feelings, on growing subject knowledge and nurturing spiritual development.
Each enquiry is split into four steps:
Step One: Engagement
The human experience underpinning the key question is explored here within the children’s own experience, whether that includes religion or not e.g. a human experience underpinning the question, ‘What is the best way for a Sikh to show commitment to God?’ is ‘commitment’, so lesson 1 aims to help all children resonate with the experience of ‘commitment’ in their own lives. If they can relate to this human experience they will be better able to understand the world of religion into which the enquiry takes them. Their personal resonance with this underpinning human experience acts as the bridge into the world of religion (which may be very much outside of their experience).
Step Two: Investigation
The teacher guides the children through the enquiry, children gaining subject knowledge carefully selected to assist their thinking about the key question.
Step Three: Evaluation
This lesson draws together the children’s learning and their conclusions about the key question of that enquiry. This is an assessment task which the teacher can assess by using the age-related expectation descriptors at the end of each enquiry.
Step Four: Expression
Children are taken back to Step 1, their own experience, to reflect on how this enquiry might have influenced their own starting points and beliefs. There is often further evidence for their books produced in this lesson. The whole learning experience of the class is gathered into a class Discovery RE Portfolio.