Religious Education (RE) has a vital place in the Church school, as it is one of the reasons that Church schools exist in the first place! Church schools are places where religion and religious life matters: where Christianity, the reason for their existence, is given prominence and where religion in general is acknowledged as a significant influence in the world. In a Church school, there is a requirement to take religion seriously; particularly, but not exclusively, the Christian faith, but also the endeavour of religious life and examples of holy living, where they can be seen, and to understand why faith as a way of guiding lives means so much to so many.
RE provides a place for pupils to explore their own beliefs and to learn about (and from) Christianity, to build an understanding of world religions. It is a chance for pupils to consider their experiences of life in the light of some of the treasures of faith.
It is important to note that Church of England Birmingham schools may serve children from Christian families, children from families who follow another world faith, and children whose families are not closely connected to any faith. RE teaching in our schools should offer something of worth to each of them.
What should pupils gain from their learning in RE?
The Church of England Education Office (CEEO) has produced a 'Statement of Entitlement for RE'. We commend this to all our schools. The new SIAMS Schedule (2018) states that it is expected that schools will take it into account in their Religious Education Policy.
The National Society has produced a statement of entitlement for RE, which has been slightly amended by the Birmingham Diocesan Board of Education and is provided below as our document 'RE: Intended Outcomes'.
- Legal documents for RE in Church schools and Academies
For many years, Church of England Birmingham has encouraged schools to use the relevant locally agreed syllabus - with the proviso that the units chosen should allow pupils to gain appropriate contact with the Christian faith.
Currently, the statutory document for RE in VC schools is the Agreed Syllabus of the Local Authority (drawn up and approved by an Agreed Syllabus Conference.)
The advice to VA schools is that governors are responsible for ensuring that religious education takes place according to the tenets of the Church of England. In practice, many schools follow the Agreed Syllabus of their Local Authority with some additional Anglican units. (In Birmingham, we recommend the Festival Matters Folder from Gloucester Diocese). The governors are also free to adopt a syllabus from another Local Authority or Diocese.
You can see here the syllabuses adopted by the five different Local Authorities within Birmingham Diocese (listed in alphabetical order):
The position for Academies that were previously VC schools is that they must arrange for RE in accordance with the requirements for agreed syllabuses (in the main Christian, whilst taking account of the other principal religions) unless any parents request that their children receive RE in accordance with the tenets of the school’s faith. In practice, these Academies generally choose to follow the LA agreed syllabus.
The situation for Academies that were previously VA schools is that the model funding agreement states that an Academy (previously VA) with a religious designation must provide RE in accordance with the tenets of the particular faith specified in the designation. So an Anglican Academy should provide RE in accordance with the tenets of the Church of England. Such academies may, in addition, provide RE that is in line with a locally agreed syllabus and teach about other faiths, if they choose. In practice, these Academies generally choose to follow the agreed syllabus of the LA, or that of another LA, or the syllabus of a Diocese.
RE: Intended Outcomes (CofEB document)