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The importance of RE to pupils with learning difficulties 

Religion is the experience and expression of faith. Learning about religion and learning from religion are important for all pupils, as RE helps pupils develop an understanding of themselves and others.

RE promotes the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of individuals and of groups and communities.

In particular, RE offers pupils with learning difficulties opportunities to: 

  • develop their self-confidence and awareness 
  • understand the world they live in as individuals and as members of groups 
  • bring their own experiences and understanding of life into the classroom 
  • develop positive attitudes towards others, respecting their beliefs and experience 
  • reflect on and consider their own values and those of others 
  • deal with issues that form the basis for personal choices and behaviour. 


In response to these opportunities, pupils can make progress in RE: 

  • by moving from a personal to a wider perspective 
  • by increasing their knowledge of religious beliefs, practices and experiences 
  • through developing an understanding of the meaning of stories, symbols, events and pictures 
  • through developing and communicating their individual responses to a range of views.  


Modifying the curriculum for religious education

The statutory inclusion statement requires staff to modify the programmes of study to give all pupils relevant and appropriately challenging work at each key stage. Staff teaching RE are encouraged to note this and similarly teach knowledge, skills and understanding in ways that match and challenge their pupils' abilities.

Staff can modify the curriculum for RE by: 

  • maintaining, consolidating, as well as introducing new knowledge, skills and understanding 
  • using the syllabus and units of learning as a resource, or to provide a context, in planning learning appropriate to the age and needs of pupils 
  • accessing RE through personal exploration and contact with a range of people 
  • providing a variety of learning environments and contexts in which content can be delivered 
  • providing a range of teaching approaches to meet the needs of individuals and groups. 


Attainment Targets

Learning about religions

For all pupils, their knowledge and understanding of different religions begins with awareness that some objects and people are special. They start to experience different religions in their own community and the wider world. They learn about similarities and differences and recognise the value of contact with people practising different religions. 

Teaching this attainment target across key stages can help pupils to: 

  • encounter religious ideas expressed in a range of ways, for example, through pictures and sounds 
  • explore the special elements in Christianity and other faiths, for example, music, food and artefacts 
  • find out how people express their religious beliefs, for example, singing and prayer 
  • discover how religions deal with loss and bereavement 
  • meet and communicate with people of faith 
  • find out about religion in their community 
  • recognise and celebrate the similarities and differences in people and religions 
  • become familiar with a range of stories from Christianity and other faiths and cultures.  


Learning from religions

Learning from religion begins with an awareness that each pupil is personally valued and that others are special too. Pupils with learning difficulties should have opportunities to explore what it means to be part of a group and to learn how to share with others. They express their ideas and feelings in a variety of ways.  

Teaching this attainment target across key stages can help pupils to: 

  • appreciate the world 
  • explore the significance of, and ask questions about, what they learn 
  • explore the things, times and events that are special in their lives, for example, music, food and celebrations 
  • experience times of stillness and quietness and develop the skill of reflection 
  • share feelings, experiences and their work with others
  • appreciate the value of others and of being part of a group 
  • develop an understanding of moral values. 


Improving access to the religious education curriculum 

Staff can make RE more accessible by focusing on senses & improving access by: 

  • using sensory materials and resources through sight, touch, sound, taste or smell, for example, music, tactile artefacts, plants in a sensory garden 
  • giving pupils first-hand experiences, for example, visitors to school, visits to religious buildings, involvement in festivals 
  • organising a range of activities to give personal experiences, for example, dance, drama, visits to a range of environments 
  • helping pupils to understand and appreciate their world and the diversity of cultures around them.  


Staff can also improve access by: 

  • using a range of resources, for example, interactive/sensory stimuli, information and communication technology (ICT), to increase pupils' knowledge of religions and the elements in them 
  • using specialist aids and equipment as appropriate for each individual 
  • providing support from adults or other pupils when necessary, while allowing pupils the space, time and freedom to develop skills for themselves 
  • adapting tasks or environments and providing alternative activities where necessary, for example, tactile story books, puppets, roleplay, presenting work as a painting instead of writing 
  • being aware of the pace at which pupils’ work and of the physical and mental effort required 
  • balancing consistency and challenge, according to individual needs.  


Teaching RE can help pupils develop their broader communication and literacy skills through encouraging interaction with other pupils as well as staff. With some pupils, communication and literacy skills will develop as they use a range of visual, written and tactile materials, for example, large print, symbols and symbol text. 

These skills also develop as pupils use IT and other technological aids. 

Other pupils' skills will develop as they use alternative and augmentative communication, for example, body movements, eye gaze, facial expressions and gestures including pointing and signing.

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