SACRE committee are delighted to be able to introduce this revised North Tyneside Syllabus for Religious Education. The work of SACRE has come at an important time for all those who work with children and young people. The ever-changing education landscape alongside recent changes to Ofsted and the revised national curriculum enables our updated RE syllabus to be built into revised plans in schools. 

The challenges with radicalisation, online ‘grooming’ and other forms of abuse do present us with real issues in schools for individual pupils.  What does it mean to be a whole person? What does it mean to have a broad and balanced education?

We live in a continually changing world.  In order to succeed, this generation of young people will have to be the best educated ever. They will require high level knowledge-based skills and will have to be able to adapt to changing circumstances, be enterprising and creative and able to use their own initiative.   However it is becoming increasingly obvious that successive governments have defined excellence in terms of academic success and schools are striving for that by ensuring children are amongst the most tested in the world.  

There is a danger of losing sight of an important lesson which was best expressed by a survivor of the Second World War Holocaust who said:

Dear Teacher,

I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness: Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates. 

So I am suspicious of education. My request is: Help your students become more human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmann’s. 

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.

If there is an acceptance that we all share a moral responsibility to help children become more human, then there is a need to ensure that the education system provides effective opportunities for children and young people to:
  • Develop an understanding and awareness of what makes them a unique individual and seek to fulfil their potential;
  • Develop an understanding of themselves in relation to others;
  • Develop their capacity to love, to care, to show compassion and empathy;
  • Learn to understand the origins of values and be able to critique and appreciate values;
  • Learn to question, reflect and debate about that which is eternal and enduring;
  • Be able to give expression to joy, awe, wonder and hope. 

Fundamentally this is about sustaining and facilitating the spiritual development of children and young people; nurturing a higher level of functioning or consciousness that is grounded in the body, and informed by emotions and academic intellect.  At its’ best, Religious Education should be about much more than a tour of the great faiths.  Learning about and from religion gives children and young people the opportunity to consider the nature of being human and explore the common bond found in shared human experiences.  It should foster a questioning, critical and essentially co-operative dialogue for life, enabling children and young people to develop their own spirituality, whether they subscribe to a particular religion or not.

Religious Education should lay the foundations for the development of self-awareness and awareness of others.  It should also be an important part of building a shared sense of responsibility for each other and a sense of belonging to a community.  It should also foster the ability to understand what motivates people of faith, an important aspect in today’s society where different religions and faiths are represented, and where sometimes conflicts motivated by religious extremes arise in communities.

Each member of the SACRE committee has been passionate about the importance of Religious Education for pupils here.  The revised syllabus will provide a unique springboard for fostering the spiritual development of children and young people in North Tyneside.