Curriculum Leader

Mr D Jones


At Hexham Middle School we believe that pupils should have the opportunity to explore and express their own potential spirituality and search for answers to philosophical questions. Our curriculum has been planned so that pupils are able to build confidence and resilience when they learn about world faiths and other belief systems. Teaching and learning in religious studies seeks to help pupils sustain discussions and debates. We will actively support pupils to develop their communication and language skills. 

It is very important to stress that religious studies does not exist to urge individuals to follow particular religious beliefs or adopt any particular world view. Neither is it intent on compromising a pupil’s existing beliefs or viewpoints. The essence of our curriculum is to establish a sense of self; sense of community; and sense of the world beyond the school.  

As a subject, we intend our pupils to embrace values of truth, justice, respect for all and care for the environment. As a school, we have considered Northumberland County Council’s agreed syllabus for religious education and reinforce the viewpoint that religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian. Our curriculum however helps to build knowledge and understanding of principal religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism as well as non-religious perspectives. 

The principal aim of religious education at Hexham Middle School is to explore what people believe and what difference this makes to how they live, so that pupils can gain the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to handle questions raised by religion and belief, reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living. 

The principle aim of RE can be broken down into four “ways of knowing”. 

  • Making sense of beliefs 

Knowledge & understanding of key beliefs and concepts. Understanding the origins of beliefs in people/texts/traditions and how these are interpreted in different ways.  

  • Understanding the impact

Examining how and why people put their beliefs into action in diverse ways, within their everyday lives, within their communities and in the wider world. 

  • Making connections 

Making connections between religious beliefs/practices and their own lived experience. 

  • Evaluating arguments 

Understanding/empathising with conflicting opinions and evaluating them to reach a personal conclusion. 


[Note on language: The curriculum uses ‘Christians’ rather than ‘Christianity’, ‘Hindus’ rather than ‘Hinduism’. This is to reflect the fact that RE starts with encounters with living faiths rather than the history and belief structures of traditions. This also recognises the diversity within and between people of the same and different religions.] 

The curriculum in upper KS2 (years 5 and 6) introduces students to the Bible as a collection of sacred books that has influenced both Christians and Jews. Then later they study some of those teachings in more depth. To complement the study of sacred texts, they look at the Church as the word that describes the diverse range of Christian communities worldwide. In addition, students study three other religious communities, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists. At the end of each year, the students study a thematic topic. This has the purpose both of making them aware of the links between the beliefs and practices of different religious groups and also of laying the foundations for the thematic study found in GCSE courses. 

In years 7 & 8, students begin with a thematic topic exploring some of the deeper questions about God and spirituality. They approach these using mainly the vocabulary from Christians but also drawing on other faith communities. In the “Was Jesus a radical” they further develop their learning from KS2 units on Christian themes and develop their ability to understand the impact/make connections and evaluate arguments in preparation for KS4. There are three further units on non-Christian faiths. Muslims and Hindus are specifically chosen because their beliefs are central in the GCSE course at KS4. They will encounter Sikhs only once at HMS/QEHS so this unit focuses on giving an overview of the principal beliefs and practices of Sikhs with a strong focus on long-term memory retention of the key facts. 

At various points on their learning journey, students will have opportunities to encounter people of faith first hand, either as visitors to the school or on visits to places of worship. We have strong links with various churches in Hexham as well as with Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Sikh communities in Newcastle and elsewhere.  


When measuring the impact of our religious studies curriculum, we will consider the principle aim of religious education and the four ways of knowing. All assessment will look to whether students can… 

    1. Make sense of beliefs by demonstrating knowledge & understanding of key beliefs and concepts. Show understanding in the origins of beliefs in people/texts/traditions and how these are interpreted in different ways.  
    2. Understand their impact by examining how and why people put their beliefs into action in diverse ways, within their everyday lives, within their communities and in the wider world. 
    3. Make connections between religious beliefs/practices and their own lived experience. 
    4. Evaluate arguments by considering conflicting opinions and evaluating them to reach a personal conclusion. 

[Most, but not all substantive knowledge will be assessed by 1 and 2, whilst 3 and 4 emphasise disciplinary skills.] 

There is a strong emphasis on long-term memory retention of a small, clearly defined core of knowledge for each unit which is informally assessed in every lesson through low stakes questioning/quizzes. Students should be able to achieve all four assessment objectives in relation to this core of substantive knowledge. 

Summative assessments take place twice per year which assess the students’ ability for delayed retrieval and their disciplinary skills. 

Peer and self-assessment form a vital part of the overall assessment process by creating more independent learners, able to recognise learning objectives and identify how to take their learning forward.  

In addition, religious education provides a suitable arena in which students can develop their oracy skills and confidence. Whilst this is a continuous process, there are specific opportunities for oracy assessment in the curriculum.   

How will we assess pupils in religious studies?

Data will be reported identifying if pupils are at Foundation level (FO), Working Towards (WT), at Expected Standard (EX) or working at Greater Depth (GD). Teacher assessment using assessment objectives will play a significant part in reaching judgements on a pupil’s attainment and progress.

Pupils in Key Stage 2 will receive feedback from their teachers from a range of formative assessment methods. This will include instant verbal feedback in the classroom following targeted questioning, or written comments (in the form our school’s TLF approach), in their exercise book. Mini quizzes will also play a part in checking a pupil’s retention of knowledge.

Those pupils in Key Stage 3 will complete an interim (Spring Half Term) and terminal (Summer Term 2) assessment each year, which will seek to check knowledge gained and its application. These assessments will influence attainment and progress judgements. It will also assess if pupils can use procedural techniques to express their own viewpoints and opinions, in the form of short answer questions. To prepare pupils for study at high school, they need to be able to use the PETPEJC format: make a point; provide evidence; explain the teaching; raise an opposing point; outline further evidence; explore justifications and then state a conclusion. Pupils’ communication and language will also be assessed during classroom debates and research project presentations. Clear criteria linked closely with oracy frameworks will be used to assess a pupil’s performance.

Curriculum Sequence

You can download a PDF copy of the Curriculum Sequence here.


All learners with additional needs access a broad and rich classroom experience with a well-planned curriculum both within and beyond the classroom. Pupils with additional needs are enabled to achieve well by:

      • High quality planning, teaching and learning across the curriculum.
      • Adaptations made in teaching and learning to ensure all pupils succeed and learn well.
      • Staff responding to learners’ needs and adapting teaching as a result.
      • Teaching staff planning and delivering a wide range of high-quality interventions and support sessions.
      • High-quality ‘Pupil Profiles’ which ensure staff know each child as an individual, including how to support their learning.
      • Where appropriate, an ‘Individual Education Plan’ with bespoke and individualised targets is implemented, and regularly reviewed.
      • For learners with an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)’, a wide range of individualised targets and support strategies are implemented in a multi-agency approach.
      • Coordinating our ambitious support in school alongside a multi-agency approach to ensure that all pupils achieve their full potential.

As part of our implementation model – the ’10 Elements of Great Teaching’ – our teaching and support staff will enable pupils with additional needs to thrive by:

      • Planning well-sequenced lessons which build progressively in small steps.
      • Implementing the school’s lesson design principles so that teachers gradually handover the learning through guided and independent practice.
      • Maintaining a calm, focused, inclusive and positive environment for learning in all classrooms.
      • Implementing a wide range of strategies to empower pupils to remember more over time and to check that this is the case.
      • Using metacognitive strategies to encourage self-regulation and to plan, monitor and evaluate learning.
      • Delivering expectations and instructions clearly in small steps.
      • Teaching subject-specific vocabulary (tier 3), alongside tier 2 vocabulary, and ensuring that it is used and retained.
      • Using a wide range of teaching resources and materials to support all learners including visual and audio resources.
      • Using high-quality modelling in lessons through the ‘I do, we do, you do’ approach.
      • Using a wide range of scaffolds to support learning including writing frames, planning structures, word processing.
      • Providing high-quality worked examples which narrate the learning, steps and processes so that pupils develop their independence of learning.
      • Using organisers such as ‘Knowledge Organisers’, diagrams, planning structures and writing frames to support pupils’ learning.
      • Allowing pupils to record their ideas in a range of ways including, where necessary, by using online resources and visual/audio support.
      • Providing word lists/vocabulary banks to support pupils’ access to learning.
      • Using sentence stems to promote positive talk and discussion.
      • Using flexible groupings in the classroom so that pupils can learn alongside and from each other.
      • Implementing dyslexia-friendly approach to reading and writing tasks.
      • Modelling thinking out loud strategies across the curriculum.
      • Using a wide range of technologies including online resources, voice recording and visualisers to model worked examples