RE in the primary school can be defined as being about developing children's awareness and understanding of religion. It focuses on encouraging each child to become informed and inquisitive about their own religious beliefs and practices and those of others. This is so that, over time, they will grow as citizens of a religiously and culturally diverse local and global society, aware of similarities and respectful of differences.
An awareness and understanding of religion should help children to:
- make sense of the world around them
- think about universal human questions
- begin to shape their own attitudes and values
- be aware of and respect the different views of others
- understand the important routines of life for many people, such as worship, prayer, seasonal festivals
- be aware of how people mark important stages if life such as birth, growing up into adulthood and death
- develop an understanding of how moral choices are made.
RE can play an essential part in the personal, moral, cultural and spiritual development of children, while developing those skills, capabilities, attitudes and dispositions which they will need for life and work in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world.
The Northern Ireland curriculum is informed by the pivotal idea of helping young people to achieve personal fulfilment and individual well-being by living successful lives. This means success in worthwhile activities and relationships in which they have freely engaged and which they pursue wholeheartedly.
The key elements associated with this objective include:
- personal understanding
- mutual understanding
- personal health
- moral character
- spiritual awareness