A high quality sequential religious education (RE) curriculum is essential to meet the statutory requirement for all state funded schools, including academies and free schools to teach a full curriculum that prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life in modern Britain. Central to religious education in Church schools is the study of Christianity as a living and diverse faith, focused on the teaching of Jesus and the Church. There is a clear expectation that as inclusive communities, church schools provide sequenced learning about a range of religions and world views* fostering respect for others. In voluntary aided schools, RE must be taught in accordance with the trust deed: this document will help schools interpret that legal requirement. In foundation and voluntary controlled schools with a religious character, RE must be taught according to the Locally Agreed Syllabus unless parents request RE in accordance with the trust deed of the school. In academies and free schools RE must be taught in accordance with the funding agreement.
The effectiveness of denominational education in Church schools is evaluated during the statutory inspection of Anglican and Methodist schools (SIAMS) section 48 inspection. That subsequent judgement will reflect the expectations set out in this document. The SIAMS evaluation schedule assesses the way RE contributes to the outworking of church school’s Christian vision. It highlights the responsibility of Church school leaders to ensure that pupils flourish academically through the provision of high-quality RE. In addition, in voluntary aided schools, a judgement on standards in teaching and learning in RE is included in the SIAMS report.
THE ENTITLEMENT: PROVISION, PROFILE AND PRIORITY
In Church of England schools the students and their families can expect a religious education curriculum that is enables pupils to acquire a rich, deep knowledge and understanding of Christian belief and practice, this should include the ways in which it is unique and diverse. Parents can expect the use of high-quality resources, for example, the Understanding Christianity resource. Pupils can expect that teaching and learning in Church schools will use an approach that engages with biblical texts and theological ideas.
Pupils can expect that a Church school RE curriculum will engage and challenge them through an exploration of core concepts and questions. They can expect Church schools to provide meaningful and informed dialogue with a range of worldviews. There should be opportunities for them to understand the role of foundational texts, beliefs, rituals, and practices and how they help form identity in a range of religions and worldviews. Pupils should explore how these may change in different times, places and cultures. RE will go beyond a sociological study of religious phenomena and will introduce pupils to a range of relevant disciplines including theology, philosophy and the human social sciences. In all Church schools progress in RE should be significant and attainment high enabling pupils to develop confident religious literacy.
Parents and pupils can expect that in a Church school RE will have a high profile within the curriculum and will be a priority for senior leaders. The RE curriculum is intrinsic to the outworking of a Church school’s Christian vision enabling all pupils to flourish. In addition, the RE curriculum will contribute to British values and spiritual moral social and cultural development.
Learning activities must provide fully for the needs of all pupils. Pupils should develop a wide range of skills including enquiry, analysis, interpretation, evaluation and reflection. Pupils should have a safe space to explore their own religious, spiritual and/or philosophical ways of seeing, living and thinking, believing and belonging. They should have opportunities to engage in meaningful and informed dialogue with those of all religions and worldviews.
In all Church schools religions education must be considered an academic subject. All pupils are entitled to religious education that is delivered in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner. Pupils are entitled to a balanced RE curriculum which enquires into religions and worldviews through theology, philosophy and the human and the social sciences. It should be a coherent curriculum that enables progress through ordered and sequential learning developing both knowledge and skills. There should be a clear curriculum vision and intent, a structure for implementation and provision and a process for evaluating impact.
Aims and Objectives
- To know about and understand Christianity as a diverse global living faith through the exploration of core beliefs using an approach that critically engages with biblical text.
- To gain knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and worldviews appreciating diversity, continuity and change within the religions and worldviews studied.
- To engage with challenging questions of meaning and purpose raised by human existence and experience.
- To recognise the concept of religions and its continuing influence on Britain’s cultural heritage and in the lives of individuals and societies in different times, cultures and places.
- To explore their own religions, spiritual and philosophical ways living, believing and thinking.
CURRICULUM BALANCE AND TIME
Reflecting the school’s trust deed or academy funding agreement parents and pupils are entitled to expect that in Church schools Christianity should be the majority religion studied in each year group and should be at least 50% of curriculum time. Sufficient dedicated curriculum time, meeting explicitly RE objective, however organised, should be committed to the delivery of RE. This should aim to be close to 10% but must be no less than 5% in key stages 1-4.
Sufficient dedicated curriculum time, meeting explicitly RE objectives, however organised, should be committed to the delivery of RE. This should aim to be close to 10% but must be no less than 5%.
NB: The RE entitlement is totally separate from requirements for Collective Worship.
DEVELOPING STAFF EXPERTISE AND KNOWLEDGE
Pupils in Church schools are entitles to be taught by teachers who have a secure subject knowledge and are confident in helping them navigate and challenge cultural and religious stereotypes, prejudice and extremism. It should be a priority in Church schools to build up staff expertise in RE specifically but not exclusively, working towards:
- At least one member of staff having specialist RE training or qualifications.
- All staff teaching RE having access to appropriate professional development.
- All staff teaching RE knowing how to create and maintain classrooms in which academic rigour is balanced with respect for different personal beliefs and identities.
- All teaching staff and governors having an understanding of the distinctive role and purpose of RE within church schools.
- A governing body which monitors standards in RE effectively.
THE ROLE OF THE DIOCESAN BOARDS OF EDUCATION
One function of Diocesan Boards of Education (DBEs) is to promote, or assist in the promotion of, RE in schools in the diocese. This should be fulfilled by monitoring the quality of RE in church schools through taking note of SIAMS inspection reports and by securing high quality training to all schools throughout the diocese. This will help ensure that they provision for religious education is effective and is able to fulfil the expectations of this statement.
SUPPORT FOR EFFECTIVE AND EXCELLENT RE
Teachers in Church schools belong to a wider educational and church community. They are entitled to expect positive support in providing effective and excellent RE from:
- A named member of staff responsible for RE and where that person is the headteacher someone who shadows the role
- Their senior management team and their governing body, especially foundation governors
- Their local Diocesan Board of Education, including a Schools’ Adviser with an appropriate RE background.
- Local clergy and other ministers and Christian communities
- The Church of England Education Office (see Making a Difference p.31 no.4).