In addition to all the subjects in the National Curriculum, Educate Together schools also teach the 'Learn Together' ethical curriculum.
In an Educate Together school the ethical education curriculum is woven throughout the National Curriculum and also taught discretely. This program is called the “Learn Together” curriculum and it defines the core values of all teaching and learning in the school.
The programme is divided into four strands: Moral and Spiritual Development, Justice and Equality, Ethics and the Environment and Belief Systems which specifically addresses the Educate Together ethos.
Moral and spiritual development
The aim is to help children develop a critical knowledge, understanding and awareness of right and wrong. Teachers aim to develop a strong awareness of social, ethical and moral standards through reflecting on the meaning and purpose of life. The strand should encourage and develop the individual on their journey to inner discovery and empower the child to make informed moral choices.
Equality and justice
This strand develops a critical knowledge, understanding and awareness of issues relating to human rights, equality, culture and diversity, social justice and social inclusiveness and to empower children to make a difference.
Ethics and the environment
The school develops in children a knowledge, appreciation and respect for their environment to empower them to take an active role in its stewardship. The environment is defined to include concepts of social, economic, political and environmental sustainability.
Children are expected to participate in study of environment and social issues in their own community and take appropriate action. This may involve setting up an eco-school committee, visiting the elderly, surveying waste, traffic or water use in the area, setting up mini social enterprises and making representations to the local council or political representatives.
This explores the major belief systems and life stances in the world in an educational manner, teaching children about these faiths and beliefs without endorsing any particular one as religious truth. This strand of the curriculum is usually very important to ensure that children of all backgrounds feel fully part of the school.
Particular care is taken to represent non-theistic, humanist, atheist and personal life stances as equally valid as traditional religions.
During the year, an Educate Together school may mark - in an age appropriate way - festivals such as Chinese New Year, Easter, Hindu festival of lights (Diwali), Harvest Festivals, Samhain (Halloween), Darwin Day, Ramadan and Eid, Hanukkah and Christmas.
The program allows the school to explore the similarities and differences with the older celebrations that underlie many of these festivals. Examples would be how Celtic festivals and practices underpin the way that Easter is celebrated in Britain or the solstice-based festivals that occur in many religions around the end of the year.
It is normal that the events and ideas in the Learn Together curriculum become integrated into the whole school programme, involving English, Maths, Science, drama, art, music, history and geography, PE and MFL and also in many cases, parental and community participation. This may mean exploring wider cultural themes such as food and family celebrations. The range of such activities within an individual school will be determined through careful consultations with the school community. The educational aim of this work is to model positive information about the diversity of humanity in a respectful atmosphere, which highlights rights and responsibilities whilst also maintaining high academic standards.
Impact of this type of curriculum:
When this model of school ethos is conscientiously implemented, no child is ever placed in a position in which they feel themselves an outsider in the school curriculum and activities because of their family or individual identity. The approach removes the situations in which parents or children feel they need to remove themselves from aspects of school life. We ask all families to agree to this when they join us.
It maximises the school’s ability to address the religious, gender, LGBT, cultural and other rights of all families without favour or discrimination.
Responsibility for religious and other beliefs of the family is assumed to be that of the family, while the responsibility of the school is to provide a safe, caring and respectful environment for all children. This encourages children to have a strong and secure contact with their own identity and comfort in interaction with people of different faiths and persuasions.
The focus in the Learn Together Curriculum is on an explorative approach to learning that is managed and facilitated by the teacher. Children are encouraged to gain personal understandings in a creative and supportive learning environment. They are encouraged to evaluate information, form judgements and articulate these judgements in supportive, respectful and safe environment.
Educate Together schools promote an approach to education which is based on the core values of mutual respect, self-esteem, dignity and critical awareness. As such each child is formally recognised as a participant in the education process and valued part of the learning organisation that is Educate Together.
The approach taken to ethical education in Educate Together schools aims to directly promote the life skills that are essential to a generation of children, growing up into a diverse and varied social environment.
Children are taught all the National Curriculum subjects and are prepared well to ensure they are ready for the Secondary School curriculum. We carry out all the core Statutory Assessments such as Phonics and SATs tests. However we rigorously make sure the children do not know they are taking these tests; they are not involved in booster and holiday lessons, given practice sheets to take home or have discussions about them. We believe that it is important they do not know they are assessed in this way and results are not shared with them. We expect our whole community, including staff and parents, to share this with us.