Religion: Education

Department for Education written question – answered am ar 9 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Sherlock Baroness Sherlock Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Ofsted Annual Report 2022/23: education, children’s services and skills, published on 23 November 2023, what plans they have to implement the recommendation contained in that report to ensure curriculum publishers identify clearly what pupils will learn and when, in relation to religious education.

Photo of Baroness Sherlock Baroness Sherlock Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Ofsted Annual Report 2022/23: education, children’s services and skills, published on 23 November 2023, what plans they have to implement the recommendation contained in that report to clarify expectations about the level of religious education provision in schools.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities)

Religious Education (RE) is an important part of a school’s curriculum and can contribute to a young person’s personal, social and academic development. When taught well, the subject develops children’s knowledge of British values and traditions, helps them to better understand those of other countries, and refines pupils’ ability to construct well-informed, balanced, and structured arguments. This is why it remains a compulsory subject in all state-funded schools in England for each pupil up to the age of 18.

Whilst the department read Ofsted’s recommendations with interest, the department believes that RE curricula should continue to be designed at a local level, whether that is through locally agreed syllabuses or by individual schools and academy trusts developing their own curricula. It will remain for individual schools to plan, organise, and deliver their curriculum, so that local demographics can be appropriately accounted for.

In maintained schools without a religious designation, Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education (SACRE) should monitor the provision and quality of RE taught according to its agreed syllabus, together with the overall effectiveness of the syllabus.

Academies are accountable for the quality of their curricular provision, including for RE. They can choose to adopt a locally agreed syllabus or develop its own, as long as it meets the requirements of a locally agreed syllabus.

The department does, however, welcome the work that the Religious Education Council (REC) has done to assist curriculum developers by publishing its National Content Standard for RE in England. This is not in itself a curriculum but, without specifying precisely the content that schools should teach, provides a non-statutory benchmark against which syllabus providers and others could choose to inform and evaluate their work.

To support teachers, and to ensure high standards and consistency in RE teaching, resources will be procured by Oak National Academy during the second tranche of its work. Oak will work closely with the sector and utilise sector experience when producing new materials for RE. This will ensure that high-quality lessons are available nationwide, benefitting both teachers and pupils, should schools opt to use them. Oak RE resources will be available for teaching from autumn 2024, with full packages expected to be available by autumn 2025.

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