Religious Education is a crucial aspect of learning which encourages all students to develop the way that they think: about themselves, about other people and about some of the big questions in life. By teaching RE, we help students to become thinkers, to develop a sense of self-worth and to become welcoming and active members of their local and wider communities. There is much we can do, through our teaching of RE, to support our students to value, understand and get along with all members of their community.

All maintained schools are legally required to teach Religious Education, to all students from statutory school age (year 1) to sixth form, with the exception of those whose parents have withdrawn them from RE. All local authorities are required to create their own syllabus for RE, which all schools in the area are expected to follow. Therefore, this scheme of work draws on the non-statutory guidance for RE from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and on the agreed RE syllabus for Lewisham local authority, entitled ‘Learning Together through Faith and Beliefs’. Naturally, some of this guidance has needed to be adapted to suit the specific needs and strengths of our learners. In developing this scheme of work, I have also looked at how the government and local guidance has been interpreted by other special schools to make it most relevant for their students.

There is no requirement for RE to be taught as a discrete subject, but the recommendation is that 5% of curriculum time is given to teaching RE. At Drumbeat, we do not teach RE as a discrete subject, but it is incorporated into other subjects such as Literacy, English, humanities, art and music, to ensure that the students still learn RE in a cross-curricular manner.

At Drumbeat, the teaching of RE should be balanced between the major religions, in a way that reflects the local community and also introduces children to different religions and beliefs around the world. It should also provide an opportunity for children to think about their own beliefs. The ability to develop autonomous and beliefs will develop from, at an early stage, being able to make choices about what they want, for example which toy they wish to play with. Some students will eventually be able to form their own opinions about their beliefs or their responses to some ‘big questions’.

RE is crucial in supporting cohesion in the wider community. There are a huge number of benefits to students, which include the development of autonomy, identity, communication, self-esteem and empathy. RE can be taught alongside many other subjects, including literacy/English, humanities, art, music and drama. Cross-curricular links can also be made to most subjects, for example linking to science through discussions about the environment, or to PE through practising traditional dances