I only need to hear a few notes of ‘Adiemus’ by Karl Jenkins and a montage of biblical scenes appear in my mind’s eye. That’s a fairly obscure reference, and I couldn’t have remembered the name of the song without some help from the internet, but my point is that the images from the 1996 TV series, Testament: The Bible in Animation, have stayed with me throughout my life. Today, when I read about the miracles of Moses, the disobedience of Jonah, the strength of Elijah or the loyalty of Ruth, I feel a sense of home. I was blessed to grow up with these characters and those first impressions I had of them have lingered long after I stopped watching.
Conversely, ask me what I learned in Religious Education and I couldn’t really tell you anything coherent. RE lessons, in my experience, were never particularly inspiring. In 2013, Ofsted reported that RE in schools was not good enough due to a “weaknesses in teachers’ understanding of the subject…poor and fragmented curriculum planning” and that RE was “isolated” from other subjects leading to “missed opportunities” to support wider learning. We’re a “religious nation” but we don’t teach it very well.
I have spent the last few months meeting with RE leaders from around the country, and have been able to glimpse the challenge we face. Overall, RE is seen as a ‘token’ subject; teachers don’t feel confident, measuring learning is difficult, and often a term’s worth of RE is squeezed into one day just to check it off as ‘done’. Something has to change. The importance of RE in schools is huge. Children learn about the concepts of ‘truth’ and ‘purpose’, they’re taught respect and tolerance, and ultimately are given the space to explore their own personal beliefs. It’s so important that children from all backgrounds should learn biblical stories and morals in a way that is fun, exciting and memorable because it will impact them for life.
CBN Europe, together with Ethos Education, have just launched a set of brand new resources, which are available for FREE for primary school teachers: Superbook Schools. So far, six Superbook episodes have been given accompanying assembly and lesson plans, which include specially edited clips, downloadable powerpoints and worksheets, and a wealth of background information about the historical period. Each lesson connects the individual story to the Bible’s ‘big picture’ so that children will always learn about God’s ultimate salvation plan. Connections are made to other subjects too; pupils will study the poetry of the psalms, make art based on creation, investigate as detectives, and analyse the reporting styles of the gospels.
Nick and Carol Pollard, co-founders of Ethos Education say:
So far, Superbook Schools has been extremely well-received by national RE leaders, teachers and pupils alike.
We know that the Bible changes lives. We live in a country where we are allowed to teach it in schools, an incredible privilege that should never be taken lightly. With the world-class animation of Superbook, we have the tools to make Bible stories unforgettable.
If you are a teacher or schools worker yourself, you can sign up at www.superbookschools.org. If you’re not, visit the website, check out the sample episode and share it with everyone you know!