Towards a framework for assessing progress in RE
A 2014 NAHT report on assessment commended models of assessment that involved teachers in making simple judgements about whether pupils were ‘exploring’, ‘meeting’ or ‘exceeding’ targeted levels of knowledge and understanding. An alternative way of expressing this is in the 3 ‘e’s of ‘emerging – expected – exceeding’, or the 3 ‘w’s of ‘working towards’, ‘working at’ or working beyond’.
This model could be used in a fairly straightforward way by using the ‘learning outcomes’ linked below as staging posts or benchmarks for making such assessments.
For example, to give feedback on a pupil’s progress in their understanding of Christianity at the end of key Stage 1, a task may be set for pupils to show that they can recall the key features of the Easter story (such as a picture-sort exercise). The teacher needs to evaluate how well pupils have responded to the task: and to make a judgement about whether each pupil’s response meets the expectation that they can ‘recall the key features of the Easter story’. If the work is judged almost to reach that standard their response may be judged as ‘emerging’ or ‘working towards’; if it not only meets, but goes beyond the expectation, then it may be judged as ‘exceeding’ or ‘working beyond’ the expectation.
It will be crucial that tasks and challenges are set for pupils to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills in relation to the criteria. By building such challenges into the scheme of work, teachers will be able to focus on the information that is useful for pupils, parents, school leaders and for themselves, in making their teaching more effective.
It will be for those engaged in detailed subject planning to make use of the outcome statements, in developing criteria suitable for different depths of learning. It should thus be possible to construct a programme that identifies statements of attainment that correspond at least roughly to ages of pupils. This would provide RE with a structure and pattern of progress comparable to other subjects of the curriculum.
The journey, or pathway, of a pupil’s progress in RE might thus be related to a series of statements of expected attainment in relation to their understanding of (a) general questions of religion and belief, (b) Christianity and (c) other religions and beliefs. Teachers can use such statements to give feedback to pupils on how well they have done and what they need to do to make progress.
By the end of Year 6, for example, pupils should have built up a coherent picture Christianity, at least two/three other worldviews and of some important issues relating to the field of religion and belief.
It will be up to the teacher to say how well the pupil has shown their knowledge and understanding and what form of words to use to express this, e.g. ‘needs more practice at…’, ‘is working towards an understanding of…’, ‘has shown clear and repeated understanding of…’, ‘has secured and is ready to master their understanding of…’, etc.
The Learning Outcomes
The lists provided in the link below are MINIMUM expectations. They are intended to identify the essential core knowledge which pupils should gain from their RE programme of study. RE learning will involve much more than what is listed here – this will need developing in relation to the legal requirements of your RE syllabus and in relation to the particular learning needs of individual pupils.
More detailed statements relating to specific religions and beliefs being studied also need to be developed, again as appropriate to your RE syllabus. Such statements will have to reflect the essential core of those worldviews.
Over time, examples to illustrate each statement will be developed, so that teachers and pupils can see more clearly what may be required.
The idea is that at each phase, pupils will deepen their knowledge and understanding of the essential core ideas and practices of the religions and beliefs being studied and that this is shown in the development of their abilities to interpret, apply and evaluate those ideas and practices.
As they stand, these ‘Learning Outcomes’ are a tentative attempt to provide a basic list of core content that the vast majority of pupils should have at their command before they move on in their RE. It is very much hoped that teachers will make suggestions for improvement in the clarity of the statements and offer brief examples of how pupils might fulfil them. This can be done via the RE:ONLINE café topic, ‘New Learning Outcomes for RE’.
See the suggested Learning Outcomes statements