RE Curriculum Overview

This page covers information for teachers:
  • Planning in Religious Education - outline of teaching and learning process for RE
  • Key ideas for Religious Education - explanation of why and how we use key ideas
  • Development of the NZ RE curriculum - background on how the NZ curriculum is organised

Planning in Religious Education

Staff meeting- in 2015-16 this will involve unpacking the theology, defining 3-4 key ideas and designing an open-ended test.  In 2016-17 it will involve developing the learning activities and assessment to promote and monitor deeper understanding.  In staff planning sessions we will share an example of something we've done in this strand previously that has really made an impact on children (see point 6 below).  

Diagnostic assessment: Informal testing of the whole class.  This could be through a class discussion about the strand, asking children for their questions on the upcoming strand, or doing a KWI chart (know, want to now, interested in), or showing some pictures relating to the strand to start discussion.  The key ideas and final open ended questions will already have been decided and the children's discussions/questions will need to be analysed in terms of these key ideas.  For example, one key idea will be that Jesus was a real man, a historical figure and if children show no understanding of what life was like in the Holy Land at the time Jesus lived, we will know that some of this will need to be covered, whether or not it is the curriculum for their level.

Planning for teaching.  The key ideas will drive the planning.  Planning will include curriculum learning from the year level being taught.  This curriculum learning will be chosen by the class teacher to match the needs of the students identified in the initial stages, and to support the development of the key ideas.  Planning format is on teacherwrite\Religious Education\2015\RE Planning Format Master.

Planning for the affective domain - choose prayers, songs, meditations etc which will support the strand - there are good ideas and examples for these in the strand books, and also in the Prayer module resource.

Aim for quality rather than quantity.  It is better to thoroughly understand the purpose and teaching of one parable than to be able to relate 5 or more parables but miss the meaning and not understand that this was one of Jesus' teaching methods or how the people of the time could relate to it.  Better to spend 5 weeks on the Good Samaritan and really get it.

Bearing in mind the "Cone of Learning" 
So its better to plan for a more involved development of one idea, than to try to cover a raft of ideas which will all make sense to the child at the time but will not be retained.  The best learnings in RE where the concepts stick with the children seem to be when they've made something, done artwork, drama, researched  and taken part in a debate, or reenacted events such as walking the Exodus or Stations of the Cross.

The final assessment can be shared with children at the beginning of the learning so that throughout the learning they can relate their learning back to the key ideas and think about how they are going to show their understanding.  It will be simple questions or statements which the child can answer in any way they want.  Criteria will be made in advance to judge the quality of the answers.

Looking out for opportunities in other curriculum areas or general school life to refer to the key ideas being taught in RE.
Results will be collated on a spreadsheet, which all staff will add to.  
We will analyse our data to judge the effectiveness of what we're doing for the children and make changes as necessary.

Children will celebrate their learning through sharing it.

Key Ideas in Religious Education - why we're doing it this way

The RE curriculum is a progressive curriculum which year by year adds knowledge and understandings so that in 8 years, the student can cover an extensive knowledge and experience base to help them understand the teachings of the Catholic Faith.

In 2015 this has some challenges for students and teachers.  Many students do not start at Catholic schools in year 1.  Many come during their schooling with no prior experience.  In the past, knowledge of the Faith was nurtured within the parish and family.  Now, many families do not have an active life in the parish or have not had the benefit of religious education themselves and the school is the sole transmitter of the faith and the content of the faith.

This makes it very difficult for children to retain the vast treasury of information that is within the RE curriculum.

We will be working as a staff to unpack and understand the theology behind each strand teaching and to decide on the wording of 3-4 key ideas for each strand which will remain constant throughout the school.  This will start with the Sacrament strand in term 3, 2015.

In 2016 when we are developing our inquiry curriculum we will add further elements into our RE key ideas assessments so that we can develop and assess deeper understandings of the same ideas, as children grow and develop through the school.


The development of the New Zealand RE curriculum began in 1994.

It is made up of 6 learning strands:
Holy Spirit
Communion of Saints

These form the main teaching strands and cover the teachings of the Catholic Catechism.

There are 4 learning modules:
The Liturgical Year
Myself and Others
Sacramental Celebrations

These supplement the program and should be used as required throughout the year.
We usually start each term with a week of learning from the prayer module.
Sacramental celebrations and the liturgical year are used as appropriate e.g. for teaching on specific feast days.
Myself and Others is the accompaniment to the NZ Health Curriculum.  It is expected that teaching in the Health Curriculum is taught through the lens of "Myself and Others."

There are other picture and music resources supplied to support the curriculum.

The Family-Whanau book was traditionally given to families when their first child started school.  It is a resource which guides parents through a basic understanding of the RE curriculum.  This resource is now available online:

Digital Resource

Around 2006-8 the strands were transferred into digital form in the "Digital Resource."  Some of the activities which had previously been available in a children's book were now available as interactive activities in the digital resource

Faith Alive

Starting in 2014 an online resource called Faith Alive "Faith Alive" has been made.

The Catholic Portal

Teachers are also able to access online resources through the Catholic Portal

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