Better RE for all pupils
Achievement in RE with The New Nottingham City and County
Agreed Syllabus
This presentation introduces examples
of the kinds of work that are
characteristic of each of levels 1-6 in
RE. Provided by Lat Blaylock, RE
adviser with RE Today and consultant
to Nottingham City and County
Copyright: 2009.
in RE
Levels 1-6
Some examples from the
classroom for the new
Nottingham City and
County RE Syllabus
Achievement in RE in
Nottinghamshire city and county
• This presentation is developed
following the launch training for
teachers for the new RE Agreed
Syllabus, 2009.
• Examples of pupils’ work are
annotated to show the skills in
evidence and to make clear how
the work shows what the pupils are
• These judgements are tentative,
but intended to inform the work of
teachers in planning pupils
progress in RE
• The consultant to SACRE, Lat
Blaylock, would be pleased to
receive examples of pupils’ work
for addition to this set of examples
• A level is a big step
• Work on paper rarely
shows more than an
aspect of a level
• Pupils’ achievement in
RE comes as a result
of good teaching and
• Learning about
religion and learning
from religion are best
shown when they are
wound together in RE.
• Both ATs are as
important as each
other. Learn about
AND learn from…
Learn about religion
Learn from religion
Analyse / contextualise
Justify views
Account for…
Express insight
Express views
Show understanding
Apply ideas
Make links
Respond sensitively
Talk about
This table identifies one characteristic skill for RE in each level and
each attainment target. Use it in conjunction with the full text of the 8
level scale.
Page 54
Summary of skills in
learning about religion
Summary of skills in
learning from religion
Analyse / contextualise religious
Justify views and ideas about religion,
expression, ethics and spirituality
Account for religious phenomena, using
the methods by which religion is studied
Evaluate personally and critically
Interpret religious
material for myself
Express insight into religious,
spiritual and ethical questions
Explain the impact and the similarities
and differences of religion and
Express views in the light of religious
ideas and consider spiritual challenges
Show understanding of religious
Apply ideas from religious and
spiritual sources for themselves
Describe religion
Make links between religious and spiritual
materials and their own experiences
Retell stories of religion
Respond sensitively to religious
Name religious features, objects,
Talk about religion
stories or characters
This table identifies all the characteristic skills for RE in each level and each
attainment target. Use it in conjunction with the full text of the 8 level scale.
Syllabus and learning links
• These examples all suggest learning activities that are
targeted to enable pupils to explore religious stories,
festivals, symbols, practices, suggest meanings for key
words, and recognise the importance of religion for
• The themes of RE connect here to work about self
expression in speaking and listening, and to wider
literacy skills, as well as the purposes of community
cohesion in RE
• This kind of work in RE can give children the experience
of talking about their own beliefs and values and the
beliefs and idea of religious and non-religious ways of
• Good RE assessment often comes as much from regular
classroom work as from set-piece ‘testing’ activities.
Page 49
In this piece of work, Bryony,
4, in FS2, shows that she can
attend to an aspect of
religious life for herself. She
has taken an opportunity to
show that she is achieving
one of the early learning
goals, about diversity in
knowledge and understanding
of the world.
Adam, 6, identifies four
occasions that have
prompted particular
feelings for him. He
then heard the story of
the last week of Jesus’
life: Peter was happy
on Palm Sunday,
worried when Jesus
was arrested, cross
with Judas and sad
when Jesus died. The
work shows that he
can identify feelings for
himself, and express
them. Next steps might
ask him to pick out
similarities between his
feelings and those of
Peter in the story. He is
able, in this piece of
work, to show
achievement at level 1
– talking about
feelings, and perhaps
the beginning of L2,
responding sensitively.
Abok here shows – specially in her answer from the
shepherd – a sensitive response to the events of the
religious story at L2 – she is aware of the significance
of some details of the story.
Stephen, 6, has drawn a beautiful
Hanukiah candlestick. His teacher wrote
his remark down. Although he is not
factually accurate (there are 8 candles,
for 8 nights of the festival), his use of
the ideas of God and miracle shows he
can respond to the story for himself.
Evidence that he can work at level 1.
Jalpa, 7, was asked: Food
matters. What matters more?
-To you?
-To the world?
Her response shows that she
can identify things which
matter to her, and respond
sensitively to questions of
values. She shows here that
she is able to work at level 2.
The work links up ‘being
healthy’ with RE’s concern for
Nottingham City and County Agreed Syllabus provides ‘I can…’
statements to clarify planning and learning.
Some examples at LEVEL 2: I Can…
• Put 7 parts of the creation story into the right order (sequencing)
• Use a saying of Jesus as a title and theme to a story made up by me
(e.g. ‘Love Your Neighbour’ or ‘Do Not Worry’).
• Say what makes the Torah Scroll and the Gospel special, and to whom.
• Give a reason why Jewish people like to go to Synagogue.
• Suggest what the story of Hanukkah means for Jews today.
• Respond sensitively to stories about people from (e.g.) the Jewish and
Christian religions, noticing what matters to them.
• Talk about the value of saying sorry and forgiving people.
• Respond to stories of kindness, self sacrifice or bravery from sacred texts
with my own ideas.
• Make up good questions to ask ‘the person who knows everything’’
• Talk about how a piece of music can express a feeling like joy or
excitement, and how singing together (in worship) can make people feel.
(Teachers will find a large selection of these ‘I can…’ statements on the disc
accompanying the syllabus)
Joshua is able to work at level
2: he selects key ideas or
moments from the story,
suggesting meanings (see
next page)
Joshua also wrote about when he feels safe and when
he feels in danger. This part of the task was aimed a
level 3, a very good achievement for a boy in Year 1 /
2. The task makes a useful connection to SEAL work.
This piece of work uses a key
concept from Judaism
(promised land) in an effective
and imaginative way. After
telling the story of the Exodus
and the first Passover, the
teacher asked the class to
think of what their own
‘promised land’ might be like.
Joanna (6, Y2) is able to make
a link between the story of
Exodus and her own ideas
about what’s perfect. She
shows that she can respond
sensitively to an aspect of
religious story (level 2) and an
emerging level 3 in her links to
the idea of promised land
In the example, Joe, 9, was asked to select two key moments from the
‘Noah’ story, and suggest what Noah might have prayed at these points.
The activity enables Joe to use the terminology of salvation and
thanksgiving, and make links between the story and his own responses:
he shows he can work at level three.
Jill, 7: Where is God?
God is a runner
and a racer and fast.
God is a swimmer,
fast and not last.
God is in heaven
and air with the sky.
God is someone
who seems to fly.
God is overhanging
like a willow tree.
So if it rains
he is a shelter for me.
God rhymes, Taylor, Age 7
Where is God?
God is in the flowers
Using his powers
Where is God?
God is in the cloud
Feeling proud
Where is God?
God is in the sun
Warming everyone
Where is God?
God is in the ground
Hearing every sound
Jill and Taylor wrote
poetry on the theme
‘Where is God?’ Their
poems connect to the
Y2 literacy unit
‘Patterns on the Page’.
They show here that
they can explore a
puzzling and
important religious
question sensitively,
linking beliefs, ideas
and questions to self
expression skilfully.
This work is at level 3.
These pupils (two Y4 boys)
were asked to create a
poster for the library wall,
showing users how to treat
the Qur’an. Lots of factual
information, and a positive
view of sacredness are
simply shown. The work is
evidence that they can
describe key features of
religious practice regarding
the Qur’an for an audience.
The task requires them to
make links between Islam
and the wider community:
they show achievement at
Level 3 here. An important
dimension of the work is its
community cohesion
Tyler, 9, in Year 5, was asked to
make suggestions about how
sacred books could be held in
local libraries. His work shows
some understanding of
similarities and differences
between ways of respecting
sacred texts, and shows that
he can apply an idea about
respect and equality for
himself. This is an
achievement at Level 4. His
work does contain a
misunderstanding of the place
of the Guru Granth Sahib, so
future learning needs to
correct this.
Using religious vocabulary, Rose
identifies and comments with
understanding on similarities and
difference between her ideas and
the visitor’s ideas, and on the
impact of prayer on Muslim life in
Britain today. This piece of work
shows that Rose is able to work
at level 4.
After playing a ‘commitment
game’, Mayur (9) describes his
own commitments and the ways
they link to his behaviour. At AT2,
he is showing he can work at level
three. He struggles with the
literacy aspects of this task, but
the thinking and response to
challenge are good features of his
After playing a
commitment game, Kara
shows that she is able to
show understanding of her
own commitments, using
appropriate vocabulary.
She understands the
impact of these
commitments in practice,
and applies the idea of
commitment for herself at
level 4. This piece of work
is a good example of a
non-religious response to
an RE stimulus. RE
assesses pupils’ skills, but
not their stance. An
agnostic, or Muslim or
Christian can achieve level
4 by showing similar skills
from different stances.
The Five Pillars of Islam
(See the example of work from Emily, 8, on the next slide)
Emily, 8, has been
learning the 5
Pillars of Islam.
She shows here
that she can
describe Islamic
practice clearly
using the right
words, and she
has taken the
chance to reflect
on her own goals
in parallel to the
learning about
Islam. Links
between her life
and Muslim life
are evident at
Level 3.
Examples of work:
Questioning God
This task, to ask the
questions you’d like to of
‘the person who knows
everything’ is versatile
across many levels.
Aaron’s four great
questions show he is able
to work at level 2. In the RE
context, he asks questions
about things that matter to
him. This is a high
achievement for Aaron,
who is in Year 1.
The task was to suggest questions to ask of ‘the one
who knows everything’. This piece of work shows
that Duncan can work at level 3. Duncan can ask
important questions about religion and belief. His
literacy struggles do not prevent him from thinking
deeply, as his first question shows. Next steps might
be to suggest answers that might come from
religions studied.
Zoe (9) chooses a
good question to
ask of God, shows
that she
understands what
makes a good
question and
suggests a range of
answers. She gives
evidence of
achievement at level
4 – suggesting a
range of answers to
her puzzling
religious questions
and applying
religious ideas for
Wenxin (10) is working in one of her
additional languages. She has
selected ‘the best question’ to ask of
the omniscient, and suggested why it
is a good question, why it is hard to
answer and three things God might
say in reply. She applies ideas well to
the topic, and if you think she can
express and explain her views in the
light of religious ideas (which I do)
then you can give level 5 for this
Liam (12) was asked to take into account
his learning about Christian beliefs in
Jesus and design T shirts that would
appeal to young Christian purchasers. His
marketing notes (next slide) say why he
has made them like this.
Is Liam able to use his
religious vocabulary to show
that he understands some
Christian beliefs and
experiences, suggesting
meaning in different forms of
religious expression?
If so, he is showing he can
work at level 4 here.
From work about Malcolm X and Farid Esack, two Islamic antiracists from USA and South Africa, Shayley, 12, expresses here her
own values with regard to racism, suggesting answers to questions
of diversity and value. This creative expression of moral ideas
shows achievement at level 4.
The task was to develop a ‘code
for living’ after reviewing such
codes from different faiths, and
to explain the selected
Susi is able to work at level 5 in
this piece. She suggests
answers to questions of value
and commitment, explaining
some influences on her and
expressing her own views in the
light of religious teaching. She
explains the potential impact of
her moral ideas.
Next steps might be to consider
her interpretation of the
challenges such codes present
to religious people
Jessica, 13, expresses
her views about Jesus’
teaching on the love of
enemies and on doing
to others ad you would
like them to do to you.
Can she suggest
answers to questions
of purpose, value and
commitment explaining
what she thinks about
a religious source and
an ethical issue?
If so, she gives
evidence here that she
can work at Level 5.
It’s a good example of
how work in RE can
approach the topic
from any stance: skills
matter in RE
This piece of work is a good
example of achievement at
level 5.
Scott, 13, gives a view of
Christianity and Islam by
explaining his understanding
of similarities and differences
between the two faiths. He
shows his skills in using
examples, arguments and
some specialist terminology.
To take his work further, Scott
might distinguish between
sociological and theological
ways of looking at the
problems he addresses.
Emma, 13, shows here that she can
express insight into questions
about God, inspired by Sikh sacred
Studying the Mool Mantar from
Sikh scripture, a long class
discussion considered whether
beliefs about God are ‘beyond
The teacher asked pupils to create
theological reflections on Godquestions arising from the Sikh
text. The task asked for a piece of
learning from religion work,
starting with the text. Emma, not a
Sikh, used her higher level
language skills and her
philosophical insights to create
this work (line 7: ‘sweetie’ is misspelled, the last two words of the
text are missing: should say ‘my
It is an insightful (and paradoxical)
interpretation of the Sikh idea of
God from her own viewpoint at
level 6.
Becky, 13, shows here
that she can work at
level 6.
The quality of the
diverse views she
presents shows that she
is able to handle a range
of religious and
philosophical concepts
in relation to questions
of meaning and truth.
Closer reference to her
sources and to the
methods of religious
study would move her
achievements on further.
Elena is 13
Elena, 13, shows in
this piece of work
that she is able to
work at level 6.
She interprets
religious or spiritual
experience using a
wide conceptual
understanding. She
is alert to the variety
of interpretations,
but expresses her
own ideas with
insight and clarity.
Craig, 12, explains his imagery
and approaches the topic with
spiritual interest. Can he express
insights of his own using reasons
and examples into the questions
of meaning in the gospel
narrative? If so, this is evidence
he can work at level 6.
Assessment in RE:
Six principles
• Assess less, but do it better
• Balance AT 1 and AT 2
• Tasks matter more than tests. Invest time in task
• Use the principles of AFL: formative, pupilcentred, focused on improvement, light weight
enough to be manageable
• Personalise the assessment: 30 different not 30
the same
• “You don’t fatten a pig by weighing it more often”
• Planning progression is more important than
levelling outcomes. Much more.
Lat Blaylock,
RE Today and City and County SACRE, Nottingham
Not to be copied

Achievement in RE