Barbara Wintersgill’s Big Ideas for Religious Education and the National Entitlement to the Study of Religions and Worldviews in England. Some reflections on a Big Ideas approach to curriculum planning in an English context from a participant in both proj


  • Denise Cush Bath Spa University


big ideas, religious education, commission on RE in England


This paper examines the thinking behind the six 'Big Ideas' suggested in Wintersgill 2017 as a way of deciding what is most important in RE and some of the ways in which this is being developed for practice. The project was based on the theory of 'Big Ideas' developed by Wiggins and McTighe and as applied to the science curriculum by Harlen et al. It aimed to address questions such as how to select and sequence content, and how to make RE more coherent and more engaging for pupils. The paper discusses the suggestion that further 'Big Ideas' are needed, such as the Big Ideas concerned with methodology and epistemology proposed by Freathy and John 2019, or Big Ideas about religion such as theories of its origin and purpose. The relationship between Wintersgill's publication and the 'National Entitlement to the Study of Religion and Worldviews' proposed by the final report of the Commission on Religious Education 2018 is explored by the author who was involved in both projects. The 'National Entitlement' was developed with a similar concern to identify the essentials of RE, without which the subject (renamed by the Commission as 'Religion and Worldviews') cannot be grasped adequately. However, the attempt to provide depth rather than breadth of learning should not be translated into narrowing of content in the sense of a reduction in the religions and non-religious worldviews studied, but instead might even draw upon a wider range of religious and non-religious traditions.