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Teaching religious education in schools

We are legally required to teach religious education in our schools, although it is not part of the national curriculum. This means we decide locally what should be taught in religious education.

We work with local faith and belief communities to decide what should be taught in religious education at our schools. We review our syllabus every five years.

We have a standing advisory council on religious education (SACRE), which advises us on issues related to religious education. This is a statutory partnership group made up of representatives from local faith and belief communities, teachers, schools and our elected members.

Why children have religious education

Religious education:

  • encourages pupils to learn about different religions, beliefs, values and traditions while exploring their own beliefs
  • challenges pupils to consider and discuss issues of truth, belief, faith, ethics and questions of meaning
  • encourages pupils to develop their sense of identity and belonging
  • helps them to flourish individually, within their communities, and as citizens
  • has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and lifelong learning
  • helps pupils develop respect for, and sensitivity to, others (in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own)
  • helps combat prejudice

Legal requirement to provide religious education

  • The legal requirements governing religious education were set out in the Education Reform Act of 1988 and confirmed by the Education Acts of 1996 and 1998.
  • Religious education must be provided for all registered pupils in maintained schools, including those in reception classes and sixth forms.
  • In community and voluntary controlled schools, religious education must be provided in accordance with our local agreed syllabus.
  • In voluntary-aided schools, religious education must be provided in accordance with the trust deed of the school and the wishes of the governing body.

Right to withdraw from religious education

Parents have the right to withdraw their children from religious education and this right should be identified in the school prospectus or website.

Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education 2018–2022

Read the agreed syllabus for teaching religious education in schools in the borough.