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Religious Education

Early Years Foundation Stage: RE is statutory for all pupils of this age registered on the school roll.  Children in our school come from a variety of cultural, religious and secular backgrounds. Some will come from overtly religious homes, some will have occasional experience of religion, others none at all. All children are valued whatever their backgrounds or belief systems and teachers will take this variety of experience into account when planning. Religious Education is taught in accordance with the locally agreed Milton Keynes syllabus.

During the Foundation Stage children develop knowledge and understanding and appropriate vocabulary about where they belong within their family and the wider community, different religions and the different ways of expressing and celebrating faiths.

Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage will also be developing the following attitudes and skills:

  • a sense of curiosity
  • interest and enjoyment in discovery
  • empathy and open-mindedness
  • commenting and asking questions
  • expressing feelings and preferences.

Children will explore the world of religion in terms of religious figures, books, times, places and objects and by visiting places of worship. They will listen to and talk about stories and may be introduced to religious words and use their senses in exploring religions and beliefs, practices and forms of expression. Children will reflect on their own feelings and experiences and use their imagination and curiosity to develop their appreciation and wonder of the world in which they live.

RE at Key Stage 1: Throughout years 1 and 2, pupils will explore religion through an encounter with Christianity and at least Judaism as another religion.

Key questions will be explored through religion specific study or/and thematic approaches across two or more religions and belief systems. Pupils learn about different beliefs about God and the world around them. They encounter and respond to a range of stories, artefacts and other religious materials. Pupils learn to recognise that beliefs are expressed in a variety of ways, and begin to use specialist vocabulary. They begin to understand the importance and value of religion and belief, especially for other children and their families. Pupils ask relevant questions and develop a sense of wonder about the world, using their imaginations. They talk about what is important to them and others, valuing themselves, reflecting on their own feelings and experiences and developing a sense of belonging.

The Legal Requirement

The Education Act (1996) requires that:

  • RE should be taught to all pupils in full time education in schools except for those withdrawn at the request of their parents.
  • RE in community schools and foundation schools not of a religious character should be taught in accordance with the locally agreed syllabus recommended by the Agreed Syllabus Conference to the Local Authority. In schools with a religious foundation, the RE curriculum offered is to be determined by the governing body in accordance with the trust deed. The governing body may recommend that the school follows the Local Authority’s agreed syllabus.
  • As part of the curriculum, RE should promote the ‘spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils’.
  • An agreed syllabus should ‘reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain’ (Education Act, 1996)
  • The Education Act (1944) requires that an agreed syllabus ‘shall not include any catechism or formulary which is distinctive of any particular religious denomination’ (The Education Act 1944 section 26(2)).

Withdrawal from RE

The right of parents to withdraw their children from religious instruction on conscience grounds was included in the Education Act of 1944. All subsequent legislation has retained the clause that allows parents to withdraw their children from all or any part of RE. Since 1944 the nature of RE has changed significantly from the nurture of children in a faith tradition to an open and educational enquiry. It is hoped that parents will feel comfortable with the nature and areas of learning found in the RE syllabus and that, as a consequence, few will feel the need to withdraw either their children or themselves from the subject.