Dennis Richards reviews education resources hitting the bookshelves,
Sally Smith highlights CD resources and conferences, and Tony Parfitt looks at
Biblos: Primary Teacher’s Handbook
Catherine Bowness, Mark Brimicombe, Sarah Lane
RMEP, £14.95 (1-85175-282-X)
A VAST range of materials is currently available on the RE market, which
befits the rapidly growing status of the subject. Some would argue that, in
reality, such an assessment applies only to secondary schools. That story has
been told many times.
The burgeoning popularity of RE in secondary schools is directly linked to
the advent of statutory citizenship. In order to give citizenship credibility
in the eyes of the pupils, it had to be tied into the exam system. A feeble
attempt to create a GCSE in citizenship quickly foundered, and RE, with its
already growing emphasis on contemporary moral and ethical issues, lay
conveniently to hand.
A similar, this time unheralded, shift is growing apace in primary schools.
In recent years, the primary curriculum has been dominated by numeracy,
literacy, and science. A good thing too, argues the back-to-basics lobby.
Sceptics, on the other hand, have bemoaned the lack of creativity and the low
status of other subjects. The latter might describe the new thinking as an "if
you can’t beat ’em" strategy; wiser heads might say it should never have been a
case of either-or.
The excellent Biblos: Primary Teacher’s Handbook exemplifies the new trend
perfectly. The handbook accompanies a series of three separate books based on
the themes of vulnerability, encounter, and destiny. Using biblical passages
creatively, the books fully meet the requirements of the National Framework for
RE in primary schools. But equally important are the very evident and cleverly
signposted links with the National Literacy Strategy.
The series is edited by Terence Copley, whose name is usually an imprimatur
for quality. And it contains some first-class material for literacy hour, which
means you can happily and successfully kill two birds with one stone. The
individual pupils’ books in the series are reasonably priced at £6.95.
Spirited Arts: Exploring and expressing through art in primary RE
Edited by Rachel Barker
RE Today, £7.90 (1-904024-78-5)
EVEN more adventurous, and using a similar cross-curricular emphasis, is
Spirited Arts. This highly innovative project draws on artwork submitted by
primary-school children across the UK for a Spirited Arts competition. The
winning entries reflect the core of the book. Further examples can be found on
the website of the Professional Council for RE
The book is packed with interesting ideas, and essentially works as a
teacher’s manual. It contains several lessons’ worth of material, which makes
the price all the more reasonable. For example, Using The Angel of the North as
a theme is a gem of an idea for teachers in the northern half of the country.
Bible Alive! Route maps through the Bible
Scripture Union, £7.99 (1-84427-069-6)
IF YOU favour a more traditional approach, there is plenty available, and
this is a good new example. As you would expect from the Scripture Union, the
product is superbly produced and takes no risks. There is no attempt to relate
the material to the modern world, and it is a straightforward, highly efficient
record of Bible journeys from Abraham to Paul. This is probably not a classroom
text, but an attractive addition to the school library.
Special people, Special Places
BRF, £9.99 (1-84101-372-2)
ANOTHER handily priced volume for younger children takes a similar theme,
basing itself on pilgrimage. This volume has 96 pages and is packed with ideas,
both ancient and modern. In this case, the starting point is journeys we all
have to make, leading on to the best-known pilgrimage sites in Britain and
concluding with biblical examples. The author is skilled in using the story
form, which hardly, if ever, fails with primary-age children.
Collective Worship Unwrapped
BRF, £12.99 (1-84101-371-4)
AS EVER, there is no shortage of resources for collective worship,
especially in primary schools. This book offers 33 tried-and-tested assemblies
with cracking story lines, and loads of suggestions for visual aids and
audience involvement. The content is highly biblical, Evangelical even, and
therefore best suited to Christian schools.
HEADTEACHERS might also wish to know that the best and most thorough policy
document on collective worship I have seen comes from Yorkshire. I may be
biased, but if I say Eileen Bellett was heavily involved in its production,
northern RE specialists, at least, will accept my word for it. It can be
obtained from Bradford and Ripon & Leeds Diocesan Education Office
Cracking Christmas, Cracking Easter, Cracking Christianity, and
Cracking Church Life
The Stapleford Centre, £25 per CD (£15 each for further copies of the same
THE Stapleford Centre has produced a series of four computer CDs providing a
rare combination of ICT and RE.
Cracking Christmas and Cracking Easter provide material
covering the concepts behind the festivals.
Cracking Christianity deals with the question "Who is God?" through
lessons and activities on God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and
Cracking Church Life explores aspects of the life of the
Christian Church and of individual Christians. A section on church buildings
includes support materials for planning visits to local churches.
Each CD contains a wealth of materials including interactive activities for
Key Stages 1 and 2, narrated stories, a range of works of art to project, ideas
for assemblies, and lesson plans, and opportunities for pupils to develop ICT
skills through RE-related activities.
Stuck in Neutral?
15-17 September, Britannia Hotel in Standish, Wigan. £155 (10-per-cent
discount for classroom assistants, NQTs and student teachers). For details
contact the Stapleford Centre on 0115 939 6270;
Christian teachers and learning assistants work in a professional world,
where a secular approach is often perceived as being neutral, whereas a faith
perspective is thought to be inherently biased.
The National Christian Teachers’ Conference, "Stuck in Neutral?", will
explore working as a Christian in such a world, engaging with
young people’s spirituality and the positive impact of Christian values on
learning and teaching.
The conference is organised jointly by the Stapleford Centre, TISCA, ACT,
and Scripture Union.
was launched a year ago, and in the past 12 months has had more than 21 million
hits. The site innovates by providing distinct sections both for pupils and
students, and for teachers.
Information that users can access continues to grow and the site is set to
feature a range of specially commissioned resources, including:
• new teacher resources on management in the BetterRE section (following the
highly successful "self-evaluation toolkit" produced in association with
• a range of materials for pupils and teachers produced in collaboration
with REQuest, a leading website producer of materials for Christianity in RE.
• resources for students working at A level, produced in collaboration with
staff at Canterbury Christ Church University.
The "People of Faith" section is also developing. Last year it featured
videos of pupils talking about their beliefs and how these influenced the way
they lived. This was followed up with an e-mail project, where pupils e-mail
questions on aspects of belief and its practice to fellow pupils.
Now this is to be extended with adults answering questions — a resource
useful not only for pupils, but also for teachers who might want to learn more
about aspects of faith and how it is practised.
A series of video visits — with interviews — to places of worship
illustrating the variety and importance of worship in belief is also set to
The site also has extensive directories of linked sites, multimedia
resources for RE, calendars with suggested websites linked to each festival,
and a listing of broadcast resources that will be of interest to the RE
teacher. Each term a newsletter of developments is emailed to interested users.