Christian Distinctiveness

Christian Distinctiveness

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

The above quotation from the Bible truly encapsulates our school vision which underpins all that we do here at Shiplake CE Primary School.

Governors, together with school leaders reflect and monitor the schools Christian Vision ensuring it is effective and appropriate. It is a standing agenda item for Full Governing Body meetings, making sure it remains a priority for the school.

Our school is a Church of England Voluntary Aided school and we work closely with our local church – St Peter`s and St Pauls Church, along with the Diocese of Oxford. Reverend Robert and Revered Sarah regularly support in school through delivering collective worship or supporting with the Religious Education curriculum. Revered Robert has attended a course related to our curriculum: Understanding Christianity so can support and guide with a clear knowledge of what is to be taught.

We live by our core Christian Values in school which are:
  • Friendship
  • Equality
  • Compassion
  • Truthfulness
  • Peace
  • Wisdom
The understanding and exploration of our Christian Values is strengthened and reflected upon through our Collective Worship. The children understand that Christian Values can be shared by other faiths as well as those with Christian beliefs.

Collective Worship:

The school meets daily to share in collective worship. Year 6 children call the children for worship through ringing the school bell, which is our school equivalent to church bells ringing. Staff and children join together and are invited to reflect, pray, engage and explore Christian values, story worship through Bible readings, other related stories and presentations, Visual worship through images and drama and Offering worship through consideration of charitable groups which may be linked to whole school charity fundraising or events: relating aspects to their own lives, beliefs and those around them in family, local and global communities.

Staff, children, Reverend Robert and Revered Sarah, Governors and parents are all involved in collective worship through its termly calendar. Children enjoy leading collective worship, together with daily prayers for their school community.

Every Friday the school comes together for a celebratory collective worship – where all pupil achievements are shared and celebrated. It is at this time that each class nominates children to receive a Values Award for those class members that have demonstrated the schools Christian Values that week.  This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole school community to celebrate the gifts children have in our school.

All those gathered for worship are invited to prayer together – sharing our School Prayer, children`s prayers that they have written themselves associated with our core Christian Values and the Lords Prayer amongst others.

Collective Worship is carefully monitored by our Senior Leadership Team, our school Governor that oversees RE and Collective Worship and the children who regularly meet with our Governor to discuss Collective Worship.

Once a term, our school community walk to St Peter and St Pauls Church, Shiplake and Reverend Robert leads a service for children, staff, governors and parents. This is a wonderful gathering of our whole school community which may focus on an aspect of the Christian Calendar or celebrate the gifts we have as a community and individually.

Quotations from Collective Worship monitoring include:

  • “This was a lively and enthusiastic virtual session with strong pupil participation with clarity of the meaning of prayer being taught and received” (29.4.21)
  • “A huge contribution from the school in what was a very enthusiastic and engaged session. Prayers followed led by Year 5 and 6. The theme being compassion and kindness. A time of reflection followed on how thoughts of stereotypical expectations (paraphrased) are not always the reality or relevant” (16.12.19)
  • “This virtual Easter service has been very much an inspiring group work event” (31.3.21)
During the Covid-19 pandemic, our Collective Worship continued, however remotely. Reverend Robert also continued with our Church services albeit remotely, they remained an opportunity for our school community to come together, reflect and invite personal prayer and thoughts at a time when it was required.

Spirituality at Shiplake CE Primary:

  • As a school, we value the importance of the emotional and spiritual well being of our school community and encourage spiritual development through all areas of school life. Children have opportunities to reflect and have peaceful times through the school day. There are quiet areas in all classrooms (Reflection Corners) for children to personally think, question, explore all thoughts. And at Shiplake the development of spirituality is more than this. To use Tatiana Wilson`s idea from her presentation: An Approach to Spiritual Development in Schools (Diocese of Exeter), children are encouraged to develop spirituality in 3 ways:
    • Windows: through developing an awareness of the world in new ways (the WOW moments) and the `ow` moments, resulting in children learning about the highs and lows in life
    • Mirrors: through reflecting on personal experiences, considering philosophical questions and what they personally think together with considering the thoughts and beliefs of others.
    • Doors: providing children the opportunity to respond to the above through encouraging them to put their ideas in to action and living their thoughts, values, beliefs out and learning through it.
    These 3 aspects of Spirituality are developed throughout our curriculum as well as through Collective Worship and our RE curriculum.

Religious Education:

  • R.E holds a central role in our whole school curriculum, exploring concepts that support the children`s development to engage fully in life in Modern Britain.It encourages and develops a safe learning environment where children explore personal ideas and beliefs and learn and respect those of others.The Christian faith is an important focus, but together with learning about a wide range of faiths as well.The subject Intent is very much aligned to the following quote, taken from the Church of England Statement of Entitlement:` Religious education in a Church school should enable every child to flourish and to live life in all its fullness. (John 10.10). It will help educate for dignity and respect encouraging all to live well together`. (P1 Statement of Entitlement 2019)Our curriculum is planned in accordance with the requirements of Oxfordshire Agreed Syllabus for RE  (ODBE Agreed Syllabus for RE 2023 to 2028)It is based very much around an Engage, Enquire, Evaluate and Reflect model of teaching, where through a unit of work children consider what they would like to find out about an area of learning, through the course of the unit this is explored, for them to reflect on this and consider the impact of their learning on their thinking and acting.Our school scheme of work combines the Oxfordshire RE Scheme: The Big Questions, along with the scheme Understanding Christianity to ensure all aspect of the agreed syllabus are covered.The Big Questions in its approach uses the Mirrors idea above and encourages children to question, explore reflect and conclude through the course of a unit of work.Understanding Christianity is planned through the year, enabling the whole school to focus on the same area of learning at key times through the year. This work is them compiled by Year 6 who plan and display examples of work in our entrance area to celebrate our Christian Distinctiveness.As with all subjects in school, the use of Knowledge Organisers are being developed to support the learning and assessment of each unit of work.The RE curriculum at Shiplake CE Primary reflects the Church of England Statement of Entitlement (RE Statement of Entitlement)  through its challenging and broad areas of study. Staff and Governors are proactive with developing their knowledge and attend training and CPD opportunities through the Diocese of Oxford.The Schools Subject Coordinator monitors the subject through Learning Walks, Lesson Observations, tracking progression and the quality of learning through children`s books, pupil discussions, reviewing the scheme of work for the school and monitoring coverage through Knowledge Organisers and lesson plans. The Coordinator also assesses areas for development on an annual basis and writes an Action Plan for RE that is shared with staff and Governors. It is reviewed each term.The Governor with responsibility for RE and Collective Worship also monitors through discussions with the RE Coordinator, Learning Walks and Book Looks, as well as discussing learning with children.If you would like to discuss what is covered in a specific year group, please contact your class teacher.
  • Religious Education (RE) Policy (2023)

Development Areas:

  • Our school holds a School Development Plan which sits under its longer term Strategic Development Plan. It includes a section dedicated to Christian Ethos and RE. For academic year 2023/2024, the following areas are planned to develop further:
    • To review and update the school RE curriculum in line with the Diocesan Big Questions Scheme and Understanding Christianity, once updated according to the new RE Syllabus.
    • For the RE Co-ordinator to set up a subject monitoring group that meet termly to discuss the RE curriculum and what makes Shiplake a Church School.
    • Click here to view St Peter’s and St Paul’s website.
    • Click here to view the Diocese of Oxford Religious Education webpage