Primary RE

Outcome of three- year religion and worldviews project will help teachers update their existing curriculum following Ofsted warning that schools need to ‘add depth’ to their RE lessons.

Linda Whitworth, Primary Religious Education Associate Consultant

We welcome the launch by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales  of a new curriculum toolkit to help schools in England develop a high quality RE curriculum using a religion and worldviews approach. The toolkit contains a Handbook for curriculum developers, three curriculum frameworks and the National Content Standard for RE in England.

The toolkit is the culmination of a three-year Religion and Worldviews in the Classroom project, with the authors drawing on academic research, classroom experience, and further consultation on the landmark 2018 report of the Commission on RE, which recommended steps to both adopt an academically rigorous approach to the subject and to reflect the nature of belief and practice in modern Britain.

The resources are available for curriculum developers to use in their own contexts. Building on existing best practice in schools, the REC has developed them in partnership with teachers in different communities.

Central to all these resources is a National Statement of Entitlement (NSE) that sets out what all state school pupils up to the end of year 11 are entitled to be taught. It provides teachers with a set of principles for the selection of content and pedagogical tools to help them deliver a more scholarly approach to the teaching of religious education. In addition, the National Content Standard (NCS), sets a benchmark for RE to help clarify expectations for schools. The need for this sort of guidance was one of the key recommendations of the Ofsted subject report (2024). The NCS has been recommended by all the major school providers in England including the Church of England, the Catholic Education Service and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Chair of the REC, Sarah Lane Cawte said: “This is a major project that reflects a broad consensus across the RE community to help all schools deliver a personally enriching and academically challenging religious education.

“A religion and worldviews approach, already in use in many schools around the country, will help all teachers improve their existing practice by placing students at the heart of the subject, providing clarity and guidance for teachers in a variety of different contexts, about what constitutes high quality RE.”

Professor Trevor Cooling, lead academic on the project, said: “This scholarly approach to the study of religious education, allows pupils to develop substantive knowledge of religion, religious and non-religious worldviews, competence in the disciplines of RE and also to recognise their own position in relation to the subject content. It builds on research literature over many years into effective approaches to the subject to create one that is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

“It helps pupils to become skilled interpreters of the lived experience of religion and belief with a focus on understanding how people’s personal worldviews are often influenced by different religious and non-religious worldviews. This will allow them to think deeply and academically about their own responses – and those of others – to the big questions in life.”

Fiona Moss, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE), said, “These curriculum resources build on the many examples of what good RE looks like and what many teachers of RE are currently practising in classrooms across the country. They will support teachers, provide inspiring exemplars, and benchmark high quality teaching of our subject.”

To access the resources and find out more visit the Primary Religious Education Subject Resources and the Religious Education Council.

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