The Understanding Christianity (UC) resource commissioned by the Church of England and developed by RE Today has reached over 5000 schools and over 1,000,000 pupils across the UK since it first launched in 2016. Now thanks to generous funding from Allchurches Trust this project will be rolled out even further with an aim to reach 1000 community schools.

The UC resource was developed to support pupils of all key stages in expanding their own thinking and understanding of Christianity, as a contribution to their perception of the world and their own experience within it. The challenge was given to RE Today by the funders to ‘make a difference’ and raise standards of achievement in teaching and learning Christianity in RE, in light of ongoing concerns expressed about the teaching of Christianity in various places, including in Ofsted reports (2010, 2013), and reiterated in the Church of England’s report ‘Making a difference’ (2014).

An independent evaluation of Understanding Christianity by Dr Rachel Shillitoe, Research Associate, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham has reported that the aims of Understanding Christianity are successfully being fulfilled and that the resource is highly effective and is having a positive impact on RE lessons at the participating schools. ‘From the teacher’s perspective, we can observe increased confidence, knowledge and understanding of Christianity. Teachers have noted the useful and practical ways the resource pack supports lesson planning, teaching and assessment. Many teachers also observed increased pupil engagement in the subject and improved attitudes towards RE more broadly.’

Saima Saleh, RE Lead Ravenscote Junior School has commented ‘Pupils have thoroughly enjoyed using this amazing resource- I have spoken to pupils from each year group when monitoring my subject and they have stated that they have enjoyed using this as a resource. Through looking at pupils' work- written evidence also reflects the depth of learning that is taking place.’

One of the strengths of UC is that it allows pupils to critique Christianity.

To progress the roll-out even further Allchurches Trust has funded RE Today to reach more RE classrooms with this substantial resource out to community schools.

Zoe Keens, CEO, RE Today comments ‘The aim of Understanding Christianity is to enable teachers to teach the complex concepts of Christianity with confidence, and equip pupils leave school with a coherent understanding of Christian belief and practice. We have successfully demonstrated that pupils from 4-14 are now exploring the significant theological concepts within Christianity as part of developing their wider religious, theological, and cultural literacy. We are pleased to be developing the next resources in the Understanding… series of ‘Understanding Islam’ and ‘Understanding Unbelief’.

We are extremely thankful to Allchurches Trust for giving us the opportunity to roll this resource out wider to even more community schools, enabling us to subsidise the resource by granting £150 for every school trained and set up the management programme.’

Paul Playford, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, said: “This resource has proved invaluable in increasing engagement among pupils and teachers with Religious Education, and is deepening understanding of the many facets of Christianity. We’re pleased that our funding will help ensure that more schools have access to these tools.”

Schools who would like to find out more about this substantial resource can visit the understanding website to find course listings.

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