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22 November 2023

Shaping Future Conversations: The United Curriculum's Approach to Religion and Worldviews

In a recent interview, we had the privilege of speaking with Katie Gooch, Primary Religion and Worldviews Curriculum Lead at United Learning, to gain insight into the organisation's innovative Religion & Worldviews Curriculum.

Katie provided valuable information about the curriculum's objectives, unique features, alignment with educational standards, and strategies for effective implementation. 

  1. Can you provide an overview of the United Curriculum for Primary Religion & Worldviews? What are the key objectives and themes covered? 

The United Curriculum for Primary Religion & Worldviews is designed to offer all children, regardless of their backgrounds, a cohesive and sequenced knowledge of various religions and worldviews both in Britain and globally. Katie emphasised three vertical concepts that form the backbone of the program: Sacrifice, Knowledge & Meaning, and Human Context. These concepts serve as thematic pillars, enabling pupils to delve into complex, abstract ideas. 

Katie elaborated, stating, "Giving something up for the benefit of someone else is a recurring concept across religious & non-religious worldviews and takes many different forms. What motivates human action and what are the societal and personal consequences?" 

Furthermore, the curriculum focuses on the unique human quest for knowledge and meaning, examining how religion and belief systems have influenced humanity's pursuit of "truth". It also delves into the influence of personal context on individual worldviews. 

  1. What sets the United Curriculum for Primary Religion & Worldviews apart from other available curricula? How does it foster a deeper understanding of the subject and engage pupils effectively? 

Katie emphasised that the United Curriculum's approach sets it apart from other available curricula. It draws on a worldviews approach, helping to ensure that the curriculum is relevant to all pupils while also expanding their perspectives beyond their own experiences. The curriculum places a strong emphasis on diversity within and between beliefs, cultures, and worldviews from around the world. 

Katie added, "Religion and Worldviews lessons are a deliberate space for pupils to exercise a curiosity and open-minded approach to the worldviews of others and a reflective consciousness of their own worldview." 

Additionally, the curriculum equips pupils with the skills to engage in meaningful conversations about religion and belief. “Explicitly teaching a scholarly approach to the core disciplinary knowledge of theology, philosophy and social sciences, develops pupils’ ability to hold the types of conversation and to apply the methods and processes of theologians, philosophers and social scientists.” 

  1. How does the Religion & Worldviews curriculum align with national or international standards? What steps have been taken to ensure its relevance and effectiveness in today's educational landscape? 

As Religion and Worldviews does not have a National Curriculum, Katie highlighted “We have significant freedom to develop our own curriculum, this is exciting, but there is a huge responsibility to get it right while also facilitating schools with meaningful opportunities to explore the religious landscape of their local communities.”  

The team draws on extensive research and actively contribute to the national discourse on the subject.  

  1. In terms of pedagogy, what teaching and learning strategies are emphasised in the Religion & Worldviews curriculum? How can it be used to support all pupils? 

The curriculum is designed to follow Rosenshine's Principles of Instruction, breaking down complex concepts into manageable steps. This approach provides ample opportunities for pupils to grasp the material and engage in thoughtful questioning. Additionally, oracy skills are given significant attention, fostering pupils' ability to hold informed conversations about religion and belief. There are also optional, adaptable scaffolds that can be used to support specific pupils as needed. 

  1. What support and professional development opportunities are provided to teachers implementing the Religion & Worldviews curriculum? How does the United Curriculum assist teachers in delivering? 

Recognising that teaching Religion & Worldviews can be challenging, the United Curriculum offers comprehensive teacher subject knowledge packs for each unit. These packs equip teachers with the information and resources needed to teach with confidence.  

The United Curriculum for Religion & Worldviews stands as a testament to its commitment to providing a comprehensive and inclusive education in this crucial subject. Through thoughtful design, engaging pedagogy, and ongoing support for teachers, United Learning continues to advance the quality and effectiveness of religious education. 

United Learning comprises: United Learning Ltd (Registered in England No: 00018582. Charity No. 313999) UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee.
Registered address: United Learning, Worldwide House, Thorpe Wood, Peterborough, PE3 6SB.

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