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Religious education syllabus for schools in the borough

Here is the 2018 Lewisham agreed syllabus for religious education, called Learning Together through Faiths and Beliefs.
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Hands holding a globe, illustrating the concept of the introduction for the religious education syllabus

Religious education provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. It encourages pupils to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions while exploring their own beliefs, encouraging pupils to develop a sense of personal identity and belonging. It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development. 

Religious education challenges pupils to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their responses. It enables them to grow within their communities and as citizens in a pluralistic society and global community.

This agreed syllabus was completed by the Lewisham Agreed Syllabus Conference in May 2018 and adopted for use in its schools by Lewisham Council in July 2018.

Early years foundation stage

Young hands and older hands holding a globe, illustrating the concept of religious education at the early years foundation stageThe Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework focuses on children from birth to the end of the reception year. This syllabus refers to the later part of the EYFS, namely children aged from 3 to 5 who are in a school setting for Nursery or Reception. It is, however, adaptable for all settings with children in the EYFS.

The statutory requirement for religious education does not extend to nursery classes in maintained schools and is not, therefore, a legal requirement for much of the Foundation Stage. It may, however, form a valuable part of the educational experience of children throughout the EYFS.

The aim of preparing this guidance is to help practitioners working with young children to provide appropriate personal, social and emotional experiences which will support the development of their understanding of the place of religion and beliefs in people's lives.

Key stage 1 and 2 content

A young child's hands holding a globe, illustrating the concept of the religious education syllabus for key stages 1 and 2This section contains the requirements for key stages 1 and 2 in the new syllabus, as well as some guidance in organising a primary school scheme of work.

The introduction and overview for both key stages is placed at the beginning of the document.

Further support materials will be added to this section at a later date.

Key stage 3

Hands holding a globe, illustrating the concept of the religious education syllabus for Key Stage 3Throughout Key Stage 3, pupils extend their understanding of Christianity and the other principal religions in a local, national and global context. They deepen their understanding of important beliefs, concepts and issues of truth and authority in religion and apply their understanding of religious and philosophical beliefs, teachings and practices to a range of ultimate questions and ethical issues, with a focus on self-awareness, relationships, rights and responsibilities. 

There are different models of curriculum planning at Key Stage 3 in Lewisham schools. Whilst some continue to provide a three-year Key Stage 3 programme, others have been required to shorten the programme by between a term and a year. This agreed syllabus has been remodelled to provide for all of these eventualities.

Materials in the syllabus are now labelled 'core' and 'optional'. All students should be taught the core units, whichever delivery model has been implemented. Every unit, whether core or optional, should be allocated approximately a half-term or six sessions for delivery if both attainment targets are to be addressed. Depending on the length of the course, three, six or nine optional units should selected.

Key stage 4

Hands holding a globe, illustrating the concept of the religious education syllabus for Key Stage 4During Key Stage 4, students should extend and deepen their knowledge and understanding of religions and other worldviews, reflecting personal, local, national and global contexts. Building on prior learning, they should interpret and analyse the expressions of beliefs that they encounter. 

Students should research and investigate the influence and impact of religions and beliefs on the values and lives of both individuals and groups, evaluating their impact on current affairs. They should be able to appreciate, compare and appraise the beliefs and practices of different religions and other worldviews, articulating well-reasoned positions.

Students should be able to use theological, philosophical and sociological approaches, including the analysis of texts. As an integral part of learning, students should be given the opportunity to engage with people and communities of faith within school or through visits outside school. 

At Key Stage 4 all pupils should fulfil their entitlement by following an accredited specification (from a recognised examination board) in religious studies to fulfil the requirement of the agreed syllabus. Schools should provide reasonable time for pupils to complete this and, where possible, to attain a recognised qualification, such as a full or short-course religious studies GCSE. Specialist schools may wish to provide an ASDAN course in, for example, beliefs and values.

Key stage 5

Hands holding a globe, illustrating the concept of the religious education syllabus for Key Stage 5Religious education is a statutory requirement for all students in Key Stage 5 who are registered in either a school with a sixth form, a sixth form college constituted as a school or registered in a school working as part of a consortium, except for those withdrawn by their parents. It must be made available in sixth form colleges to students who wish to take it. Although it is not a requirement in colleges of further education, similar arrangements should apply.

Schools should provide religious education to every student in accordance with legal requirements. It must be taught according to the locally agreed syllabus or faith community guidelines.

Religious education courses broaden and enhance the curriculum by giving students the opportunity to consider a wide range of religious, philosophical, psychological, sociological and ethical issues and to develop their own codes of belief.

Glossaries and appendices

Hands holding a globe, illustrating the concept of the glossary for the religious education syllabusThis glossary is based on: Religious Studies – A Glossary of Terms, GCSE which was published by the School Examination Council (SEC) in 1986.

With the publication of the model syllabuses for religious education, and the work involving the faith communities in Britain, it was felt to be an appropriate time for its first revision. Since then many Agreed Syllabi have used it.

For the Lewisham agreed syllabus 2018 additional sections on Baha’i and Humanism have been added and several other sections have been updated.

Further resources

Watch a short film about the annual Hindu Chariot Festival that takes place from the Sri Sivan Temple in Lewisham.