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Hitting the Mark with RE

by Michael Ford last modified 12 Jan, 2015 12:43 PM

Bemerton St John Primary School has become the first school in the Diocese of Salisbury, and in Wiltshire, to be awarded the silver RE Quality Mark (REQM).

Hitting the Mark with RE

Sixth-former Tom Bostock teaches Year 4

The school took part in a number of RE projects through the year, such as working with the Bridge, a Salisbury based Christian organisation, who led RE lessons on topics such as ‘parables and miracles’, ‘Jesus in art’ and ‘inspirational people’.

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Sally Stewart-Davies from Salisbury Cathedral led a spirituality day in the newly refurbished Spiritual Garden at Bemerton. The children used Psalm 104 to reflect on Creation and their response to God’s world and worked together to build a large willow eagle, the symbol of St John, to overlook the garden.

The school has also developed a link with Hilfield Friary near Dorchester. Lydia Reese, one of their community members, visited Bemerton and worked with the children to draw up plans to develop the school garden into a reflective area. Year 4 spent a very wet and muddy day at the friary, exploring their sacred spaces and building dens in the woods to create their own special spaces.

Sue Phillips, who specialises in a ‘Theatre of Learning’ approach to RE, introduced ‘The Island,’ a unit of work that imagines the children have been shipwrecked and have to invent their own rules and rituals. This helps pupils think about how religious ideas develop.

Bemerton St John also took part in a pilot project organised by Tom Churchill from Bishop Wordsworth School. Jane Kelly, the RE coordinator, helped Verity Holloway, the Diocesan RE Adviser, to interview and select a team of sixth formers and to train them to deliver RE in local primary schools.

The Bishop Wordsworth’s boys then taught a series of RE lessons in Salisbury schools, which the children thoroughly enjoyed, finding the work challenging but very motivating. It was good to see them grappling with philosophical questions such as ‘What are our basic needs?’ and whether we have a duty to future generations. One child reflected that the work had made her brain hurt, but she liked the fact that RE really made her think.

The project was featured in the Church of England publication ‘Making a Difference’ as an example of good practice and an article appeared in the January edition of RE Today, with contributions from Bishop Wordsworth and Bemerton St John about their experiences.

Headteacher Jane Kelly commented, “The children loved working with puppets and playing parachute games, as well as being challenged to think more deeply about Christian beliefs. The Quality Mark was a really useful tool for auditing RE work within the school and for helping to focus on delivering quality RE throughout the school.”

www.bemerton.com 
www.theatreoflearning.org

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