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R.e In The Foundation Stage


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I'm an experienced Early years teacher working in a special school in a specialist class for children who have autism. We have been asked by the co ordinator (RE not Foundation) to plan and teach R.E as a discreet subject from this term. We place huge emphasis on Personal Social and Emotional Development, developing eye contact, social skills, turn taking etc.

Does anyone have any experience of being asked to do this as one reason given is that other schools are doing this. I would welcome any comments or suggestions including info on requirement.


Gill, Bolton

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As our children have a wide range of backgrounds, we celebrate the major festivals of their religions with them, alongside the main school.


I have queried in the past, the legal position of RE in Reception and the answer has always been that when they reach statutory school age they should be following the curriculum as prescribed.

My recolllection is that this was largely teaching stories of Jesus and aas I felt this to be inappropriate- few of the children are Christian and although fascinated by the story of the baby at Christmas and enjoying Easter eggs they had little conception of their own faiths to start taking on board mine!


Probably not the correct response so don't quote me!

Time is also always a crucial factor and there are always so many more pertinent things to learn. Does not the curriculum spiral anyway so children do not exactly miss out and where in Goals or Stepping stones is content prescribed?

Is this controversial?


Anyway, I have seen a course advertised in our area (not LEA) and have booked myself & the RE coordinator on it " RE in the Foundation Stage". Not until November, though so don't hold your breath!


I'd be interested to hear how you get on. Good luck.


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I always find this such a difficult area......we are in a white, middle class, C of E part of the country, and feel so awkward about providing activities based on other religions which we as a staff know nothing about, and neither do our children or their families! We were really pleased, therefore, to have a child for one term, visiting from the states, who was Jewish, and her family shared with us the customs associated with Hannukah. We all felt that this had great significance for all of us. Now we are all back to C of E..... :o

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Yes we had this problem too a few years ago, but you are obliged to follow the foundation curriculum, not any prescribed RE syllabus. We made sure that we cover the aspects of KUW about respecting belief and culture and we celebrate festivals where relevant. Like Helen says, its a bit difficult if your children all come from one religious group (ours are mostly muslem) so we tend to cover what is relevant to our children at foundation stage. They have plenty of time later on to learn about other religions and belief systems when they are old enough to have a better understanding. But you do not have to isolate RE as a separate slot on your timetable. You could always ask your advisor, if your coordinator cant see your point of view. What about the Head?


Im sure someone can correct me on this if its wrong but the word 'religion' is not mentioned anywhere in the 'foundation curriculm guidance', and 'belief' covers a much wider view (ie we all have beliefs but we dont all prescribe to a religion).


In your situation I cant see how an RE slot on the timetable would actually teach your children anything- your children have greater need for the things you are already doing. :)

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I entirely agree.

I always felt uneasy teaching RE in a white Christian community in case I was unintentionly offending.


We are lucky to be supported by multi cultural staff, so someone usually knows something!

We celebrate with the children from the experiences they bring, which for some 4 & 5 year olds is very sparse and eveyone always wants a claim on everything! So my starting point is always 'in my house' or 'in your house'. Children often need bilingual support to talk about these things too.

Its certainly not easy.



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It does talk about introducing children to a range of cultures and religions in the curriculum guidance for the foundation stage. (The Knowledge and Understanding section relating to the ELG 'Begin to know about their own cultures and beliefs and those of other people'.)


At our school we teach RE as a separate subject. It includes developing their understanding of their community and groups they belong to, alongside stories and celebrations from religions and cultures. In my experience children enjoy finding out about how other people live, what they do to celebrate something they believe is important and about special buildings and objects etc etc etc

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I too teach children with special needs. They have profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). How do you teach RE to children who have not yet achieved an understanding of themselves as individuals - of course you can't. Their whole curriculum is based on developing and understanding that they exist as separate people who can have their own thoughts and feelings, have likes, dislikes and preferences and be individuals.


I find it very difficult to separate out the six areas of the foundation curriculum let alone RE! I would be interested to hear from anyone who is teaching in an Early Years setting like mine.

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Dear Nette,


I am a teacher working running an assessment nursery in a special school. At present all my children fall into the PMLD category (or working at P1 to 3 as some people are starting to say). I find it very difficult to work on the 6 areas of the foundation because the needs of the children are so different from those of mainstream children. I find I have to do a lot of creative interpretation, which is an extra paper exercise that I could do without.


The main focus of our work tends to be based around the physical needs of the children, and PHSE, such as feeding, toileting and social/communication skills.


If you are intersted in swapping planning to give and get some different ideas, I would welcome the opportunity to do this.


I set out my curriculum under the foundation headings but have to differentiate very carefully, to ensure that what I am teaching is appropriate for the levels of the children.


Look forward to hearing from you.


Rosie Jackson :o

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Dear Gillscow,


I am the RE co-ordinator for our school, catering for 2 to 16 year olds, with PMLD, SLD, MLD. We have quite a few children with autism and all the associated behaviours so I have had some experience.


We do have RE lessons, based on stories and festivals, using artefacts, food and clothing to help the children experience the different ways of worship. As part of RE we have a huge emphasis on being kind, caring and helping. It is almost impossible to get the children to understand the 'religious' aspect but by including intrinsic and extrinsic activities, you can help them be quiet when teaching about meditation or to behave appropriately in a place of worship or when listening to prayers. I know this would be a long term goal, but worth working towards. (this sounds heavy - sorry - see your RE syllabus which every county has to produce and is written by the local SACRE (or standing advisory council for R.E.) You should also have an RE advisor at county level who can help you.


my favourite way of teaching stories is by making up story boxes.




1 large box

a book about the story at the level of the children.

1 container of sand

1 water spray

a large stone or rock

1 toy hard hat (for the wise man)

1 jesters hat (for the foolish man)

1 piece of cloth (blue) to make the waves of the water.

some toy tools

some toy building bricks.


the words of the song: The wise man .....


I always start by introducing this story by saying, this is a story that Jesus told to the people, otherwise it would just be another sensory story.


Tell the story, putting on the hats as the characters appear.


let the children feel the artefacts as the story progresses, running their fingers through the sand etc.

a good spray with the water will wake them up!


Have some bricks that can easily be knocked over for the foolish man's house, and some leggo that will not be so easy (this can be made up beforehand).


You know the story so use your imagination. The louder and more fun the better.



as a plenary, you could remind the children that this was a story that Jesus had told, and what the meaning of the story is. If the children are able, let them try to work this out for themselves.


Finish with the song, if you can play an instrument it all the better (guitar chords D,G and A7) otherwise use the cloth for the sea, and get the children to hold on to part of it to help.



This can be done with most stories, and it is fun building up resources like this.



For festivals you can use :o food, spices, curry scented playdough, dressing up clothes, artefacts. All of these help with understanding, and should be presented in a positive way.


I hope this is helpful.




Rosie Jackson.

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Hi Rosie and Nette -

It's great that you've found an area of common interest. PMLD sounds like an excellent area for discussion!


Just to keep the forum tidy, can I ask that you start a new topic off in the Special Educational Needs category if you'd like to discuss PMLD as a separate issue from RE. I want to leave your two posts here though, so people can reference them.


And meanwhile, all those following the RE discussion might be interested in what seems to be a very useful R.E site - you can find it at www.theresite.org.uk.


Regards, Steve.

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I work in a culturally diverse area in Birmingham. We celebrate various festivals throughout the year - where we talk simply with the children and encourage parents to join in activities, especially cooking. :D

We incorporate RE into the nursery through using positive images of different cultures, books, dual language music cassettes e.t.c.

I'm not sure this post makes sense!! :o

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I work in a Nursery class within a Catholic Primary School. The whole school from Early years to year 6 follow a scheme of work, which follows a four year cycle called 'Here I am'

Although its foundation is Christian beliefs it encompasses and supports many of the PSHE Early Learning Goals. Most of the planning is done for you and resources, such as appropriate short stories and activities are provided.




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Hi Janis -

Welcome to the forum and thanks for your post! :D


A four year planning cycle! That must have been an incredible piece of work to set up. And most of the planning is done for you by whom? Is that a blessing or would you like to have the chance to be involved in it?


Welcome again, Janis!



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Hi everyone,

Thanks to all of you for such interesting replies and good advice. Glad to start some new Special debate too.

I like the idea of the sensory story, we currently use these for Communication Language & Literacy.

We do have special days in school for the major festivals etc and contribute to these e.g. we'll make sweets for Diwali.

I have been asked to follow prescriptive topics over 2 years and as my class have severe communication difficulties some of them will be extremely difficult to cover effectively.


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