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St James’s Catholic Primary School ‘Put out into the deep’

Catholic Education

Why is Religious Education important in Catholic Schools?

Religious Education is the "core of the core curriculum" in a Catholic school (Pope St John Paul II). Placing RE at the core of the curriculum in Catholic schools helps the school to fulfill its mission to educate the whole person in discerning the meaning of their existence, since "Religious Education is concerned not only with intellectual knowledge but also includes emotional and affective learning. It is in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of what it is to be human truly becomes clear. Without religious education, pupils would be deprived of an essential element of their formation and personal development, which helps them attain a vital harmony between faith and culture." (Religious Education Curriculum Directory p4). Furthermore, religiously literate children and young people are able to engage in a fully informed critique of all knowledge, "leading, for example, to an understanding of the relationship between science and religion or history, and between theology, sport and the human body." (Religious Education Curriculum Directory p4).


Who inspects Catholic schools?

All Catholic schools are subject to a diocesan inspection (which for maintained schools is also a section 48 inspection) at least every five years. These inspections will be carried out by diocesan inspectors appointed by the bishop in whose diocese the school is situated. (Education Act 2005).

All maintained Catholic schools are also subject to Ofsted inspections at the intervals prescribed by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector.


St James’s is an outstanding Catholic school because:

 “The school is outstanding in its effectiveness in developing pupils’ experience of the richness of a Catholic way of living and believing. The vision of the headteacher, school leadership team and governing body, supported by local clergy, are instrumental in ensuring that worship and prayer are central to the life of the school and are well planned and resourced. The Catholic life of the school underpins all activities and pupils are explicitly taught how they may follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Celebration of the Eucharist and Reconciliation are offered at key times of the year with pupils’ active participation in the preparation. Religious education is valued and recognised as the core of the curriculum and is given is an excellent range of resources, which are kept under constant review. Pupils have an excellent understanding of the social teaching of the Church. They have very many opportunities to develop personal responsibility and engage in action to support those in need locally and in the wider world.”


Classroom RE at St James's

At the heart of our classroom RE curriculum is the 'Big Question'. This links to the other embedded curricular approaches in particular Philosophy for Children and Thinking Skills. 


Big Questions are the ones that don’t have an easy answer. They are often open and difficult; they may even be unanswerable or there may be more than one answer. The aim is to encourage deep and long conversations, rather than finding easy answers.
These questions encourage children to offer theories, work collaboratively, use reason and think critically. A good Big Question will connect more than one subject area: “What is an insect?” for instance, does not touch as many different subjects as “What would happen to Earth if all insects disappeared?”
Big Questions should be ones that encourage research, debate and critical thinking. Big Questions aren’t just about getting the ‘right’ answers, but about learning the methods and skills needed to find the answers.

Why do we ask Big Questions?

  • To encourage children to think beyond the obvious.

  • To encourage children to think of as many possibilities as they can, before deciding upon the best or most appropriate answer.

  • To increase their understanding of a topic

  • To encourage children to articulate their thoughts​


Please see the Children's Page, Year Group section for the R.E curriculum information. Click on the relevant year group and newsletters.