To receive presentations by representatives from various schools on good practice / concerns on delivering Religious Education.
(a) The Challenge Adviser explained that she had invited the four following teachers to give a presentation to the Committee on the work of religious studies in the key stages:
Nia Hughes, Ysgol Talysarn - Foundation Phase
Heulwen Jones, Ysgol Bro Hedd Wyn - KS2
Miriam Amlyn - KS3
Heledd Jones - KS4
but unfortunately, due to confusion and error about location, only two teachers were present.
(b) Nia Hughes from Ysgol Talysarn, Foundation Phase Teacher who was responsible for teaching religious studies to the Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and 2 classes, was welcomed. An interesting presentation was received, and good examples were seen of the work that was done in Ysgol Talysarn based on language, experience, empathy, morning assemblies etc.
It was noted that the Foundation Phase required teachers to have significant skills which were to follow the child, decide upon different areas in the classroom, which ere all based on their experiences.
In response to an enquiry from an individual member, she noted that it was very rare for nursery children to have knowledge of biblical stories when they began at the school, and that the school did not work with the Church or Chapel in Talysarn. She added that it was challenging for some schools that were eager to use local resources as it was not always easy if the communities did not have many places of worship or were not faith communities.
The Member noted, when looking at future education arrangements in the Bangor area, that it might be an idea for the Committee to give input into the discussions so that any new school would be inclusive from the perspective of taking the faith backgrounds of Bangor's population into account.
(c) Miriam Amlyn from Ysgol Eifionydd (who was a member of SACRE as a representative for the NASUWT Union) was welcomed to share information about cross-curriculum presentation as a Head of Department of Religious Education.
She noted that the situation was slightly different in the secondary sector as the subject was presented for an hour a week in KS3, but varied from school to school and the pupils experiences differed, but, on the whole a regular academic lesson was presented teaching about religion.
A unit of work completed with Year 7 on the subject of Hinduism was seen, which had then been developed into a series of lessons about worship, worshipping and the buildings. Stemming from this work, 85 pupils created a film and an example was shown to the Committee. Attention was drawn to the fact that there was an emphasis in the secondary sector, as in the primary sector, on developing work which can develop cross-curricular skills (literacy, numeracy and digital competence) and the teachers successfully collaborated in order for the work to correctly intertwine and contribute towards religious education.
Resolved: To accept, note and congratulate the teachers for the interesting presentation and thank them for their work and dedication to the subject.
B. UPDATE BY THE GwE CHALLENGE ADVISER
(i) Submitted to the Members
· Booklet by the title of "You are joining your local SACRE"
· Gwynedd and Anglesey Agreed Syllabus
· Successful Future
(ii) The New Religious Studies GCSE
Reference was made to the fact that Religious Education teachers within GwE's region, under the leadership of Mefys Jones, Head of the Religious Studies Department at Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Amlwch, had met three times and had received guidance from external experts in regards to the above. It had been agreed that the work of preparing resources would be shared between them and they would be available on GwE's website. It was further noted, in terms of the A Level Religious Studies course, that Mefys Jones had coordinated cooperation between Gwynedd and Anglesey teachers.
In response, the Teachers representative noted that the course was heavy and would be challenging as the teaching hours indicated on the specification varied from school to school. Stemming from the discussion, it was suggested that correspondence should be sent to the Joint Education Committee in regards to the lack of Welsh-medium resources in addition to sending correspondence to all Gwynedd schools to ensure that teachers across the county received the time indicated by the WJEC to present and complete the new GCSE course.
(iii) Religious Education and the new curriculum
It was noted that Religious Education was a part of the Humanities learning and experience field and that there were four purposes to the curriculum and that the following was a basis for everything:
· Ambitious, capable learners who are prepared to learn throughout their lives;
· Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work;
· Ethical, informed citizens ready to be citizens of Wales and the world;
· Healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead lives in which they fulfil their ambitions as valued Members of society.
It was explained that innovative schools were responsible for developing this field. Thus far, they had researched other countries' curricula and had received guidance from external experts. Every group tried to outline the extent of the learning and experience field and to consider what the subjects "big ideas" were. It was noted that no decisions had been made yet regarding assessment. The cross-curricular skills would continue - literacy, numeracy and digital competence.
The Challenge Adviser noted that she had attended one meeting of the Humanities group as a representative of the Wales Association of SACRE and had presented the document "What is a good religious education?" to Manon Jones, Welsh Government Officer who was facilitating the Humanities group. The draft document was shared with the SACRE Members for information.
Attention was drawn to the fact that ESTYN had noted in some school inspections that the religious education provision was weak, and it was understood that ESTYN would conduct a thematic "KS2 and KS3 Religious Studies" inspection and would likely visit a cross-section of around 20 schools across Wales. The Challenge Adviser presented a 'Key guidelines for religious studies in primary schools' handout for the members' attention in order to receive their approval before sharing with primary school teachers..
(v) Collective Worship
Attention was drawn, and Members of the Committee were encouraged to take a look at the following two petitions on the National Assembly for Wales' website, which had been triggered by young people:
· Remove the obligation for schools to conduct acts of collective worship
· Keep current guidelines for Religious Services
(vi) KS3 Religious Education E-magazine
In addition, Members’ attention was drawn to the following magazines on the Hwb website:
· Issue 1: Organ Donation
· Issue 2: Refugees
· Issue 3: War and Peace
Resolved: (a) To accept, note and thank the Challenge Adviser for the update as outlined above and approve the 'Key guidelines for religious education' handout for primary school teachers.
(b) To request that the SACRE Clerk sends correspondence as follows:
(i) to the Joint Education Committee to ensure that schools receive the Welsh medium resources in good time in order to present the new Religious Studies GCSE
(ii) to all Gwynedd schools to ask them to ensure that an appropriate amount of time is available to present and complete the new course