School Context

Colton Hills Community School is an 11-18 comprehensive on the south side of Wolverhampton. It is a local authority-run community school which serves a racially diverse area of south Wolverhampton. It draws most of its pupils from Blakenhall and the Goldthorn area of the city and has about 850 pupils. As part of Building Schools for the Future it was decided to take the opportunity to review how the curriculum is delivered. The school was also concerned about the transition of Year 6 pupils into Year 7. After some debate it was decided to introduce an Integrated Curriculum focusing on the Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills. The emphasis was on a skill based curriculum to deliver various themes. Religious Education is one of the subjects delivered in this way.

Leading teacher work - Reflecting on my own practice

Globalisation is an important part of the world today and it is vital that pupils have the opportunity to address something that is highly relevant to their lives. After attending a Leading Teachers conference with a focus on  global learning it was decided to review how Religious Education could be delivered with other subject areas and address a global issue. It was decided to address the issue of Globalisation with Geography, as Religious Education is delivered entirely through the Integrated Curriculum in Year 7.

In joint planning time a key question was identified;

“What matters to me more: a global brand or a religion?”

The pupils were given a number of opportunities to research into this question. This was done by;

a  A starter activity ~ getting pupils to look through magazines to find advertisements of what they would consider to be a global brand. They had to make a collage of these advertisements on a large piece of paper.

A silent debate followed up by a discussion.  

c  Research into global companies ~ followed by short presentations in small groups. This was peer assessed.

d  Research into how and why religions became a global phenomenon (the pupils had some guidance given to them).

e  Completing surveys into favourite global brands and the importance of religion.

f  Completing a formal written assessment, answering the key question and using writing frames.

The written assessment was used by Religious Education as one of its assessments for the year. It was marked and levelled in accordance with the Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education for Wolverhampton. This was also an excellent opportunity for literacy.

An integrated approach - is it worthwhile?

It is essential that, in any Integrated Curriculum, assessment opportunities are identified, not only for assessing personal, learning and thinking skills, but for individual subjects as well. Progress must be demonstrated. For Religious Education this approach, allowing for in depth study, led to better outcomes. The pupils produced higher level responses, showed a greater insight into global issues and wrote well written and thoughtful responses.

An integrated approach is a risk worth taking. At Colton Hills Community School we have found the pupils have enjoyed doing the challenges, have developed their skills and become more confident learners. The pay off for the rest of the curriculum is that pupils have raised their own expectations of learning and equally expect their teachers to do the same.

Where Next ?

The Year 7 Integrated Curriculum has proved to be a success. It was decided to continue with it into the next academic year and it is constantly being refined. The comments from the pupils were clear. They wanted it to continue as they enjoyed the opportunities that this approach gave them. It was eventually decided that Religious Education, Geography and History would be taught through an integrated approach for one day a week. This would allow the pupils to continue to develop their Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills. It has already led to some imaginative planning of various themes, centred on the theme of people and how they interact with the world around them.

If you would like any further information about any of the above please contact me via the e-mail address below.

James Bullock
Co-ordinator for Religious Education
July 2010

Associated articles:

A silent debate

Leading Global Learning!~ cross-curricular approaches at KS3