Religious Education - Statutory Requirements and Curriculum Information
The national curriculum states the legal requirement that:
'Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based, and which:
- promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils; and
- prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.
All state schools... must teach religious education... All schools must publish their curriculum by subject and academic year online'.
(National Curriculum in England: Framework Document, DfE, September 2013, p.4)
Although there is not a National Curriculum for RE, all maintained schools must follow the National Curriculum requirements to teach a broad and balanced curriculum, which includes RE. All maintained schools therefore have a statutory duty to teach RE. Academies and free schools are contractually required through the terms of their funding agreement to make provision for the teaching of RE. Further information concerning RE in academies and free schools is given below.
The RE curriculum is determined by the local Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE), which is responsible for producing the locally agreed syllabus for RE. Agreed Syllabuses used in schools (maintained or academy), which are not designated with a religious character must ‘reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain’. Schools with a religious designation may prioritise one religion in their RE curriculum, but all schools must recognise diverse religions and systems of belief in the UK both locally and nationally.
In brief, legislation requires that:
- in maintained community, foundation or voluntary schools without a religious character, RE is taught in accordance with the local Agreed Syllabus;
- academies and free schools must teach RE within the requirements for a locally agreed syllabus, set out in section 375 (3) of the Education Act 1996 and paragraph (5) of Schedule 19 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. The requirements are that a syllabus must ‘reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are, in the main, Christian while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain’;
- for foundation and voluntary controlled schools with a religious character, RE must be taught according to the Agreed Syllabus unless, parents request RE in accordance with the trust deed of the school; and
- in voluntary aided schools RE must be taught in accordance with the trust deed.
RE must be included in the curriculum for all registered pupils, including all pupils in reception classes and sixth form, but excluding:
- pupils in nursery schools or nursery classes in primary schools;
- any person aged nineteen or above for whom further education is being provided at school; and
- any person over compulsory school age who is receiving part-time education.
Withdrawal from RE Documents