Religious Education

Principles and Purpose of the RE Curriculum

The purpose of the RE curriculum is for students to know and understand a range of religious and non-religious worldviews and be able to critically engage with those views. Students should gain an appreciation for how these worldviews have impacted the world they live in at a local, national and global level. The following principles have informed the planning of our curriculum across all subjects:

  • Coherence: Taking the National Curriculum as its starting point, our curriculum is carefully sequenced so that powerful knowledge builds term by term and year by year. We make meaningful connections within subjects and between subjects.
  •  Mastery: We ensure that foundational knowledge, skills and concepts are secure before moving on. Pupils revisit prior learning and apply their understanding in new contexts.
  •  Representation: All pupils see themselves in our curriculum, and our curriculum takes all pupils beyond their immediate experience.
  •  Education with character: Our curriculum - which includes the taught subject timetable as well as spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development, our co-curricular provision, and the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – is intended to spark curiosity and to nourish both the head and the heart.

Here we explore these principles in the context of the RE Curriculum:

  • Coherence: The RE curriculum is planned with carefully sequenced lessons and aims to provide a narrative to religious and non-religious views. The RE curriculum considers the disciplines which sit underneath the subject and makes powerful links to English, History and Geography in particular.
  • Mastery: Students are expected to ‘get better’ at RE as they progress through the curriculum.
  • Representation: The RE curriculum is planned with diversity and inclusion in mind. All students should see themselves within the RE curriculum as it covers a great variety of traditions and perspectives. We also explicitly deal with issues of equality within the curriculum.
  • Education with character: Through exposure to the big ideas of religious and non-religious belief, students have explicit opportunities for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

‘Why This, Why Now?’

In our planning, we have asked ourselves 'why this, why now?’ Here we provide some examples of the curriculum choices we have made, and why the units have been placed in the order we have chosen:

  • Example 1: Year 7 starts with a unit on the Origins of Abrahamic faith. This is done to give the historical and theological background to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This should help students see the distinctions and connections between these faiths, which they study later in the curriculum. Here we aim to provide substantive knowledge on the development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to study the traditions in themselves in more depth.
  • Example 2: The study of each religion is studied with a narrative in mind, to try to explain what the religious tradition means to those who belong to it. We draw heavily on theology to tell this narrative and expose students to key scriptures, giving them the tools to interpret those scriptures and to see how religious believers may see them, as well as being critical of them.
  • Example 3: Towards the end of Year 8, students begin to look at Philosophy of Religion and engage with key arguments for and against the existence of God. The unit begins by unpacking key language i.e. ‘The God of Classical Theism’, ‘Theism’, ‘Atheism’ etc. then analyses arguments for and against God’s existence in depth. It is here where students will be introduced to skills of argumentation as earlier in the curriculum the focus is on the building of substantive knowledge, description, and explanation skills. This means that students should have a rich knowledge of religious beliefs and traditions before moving onto the higher-order thinking around the philosophical debate. This will also set them up well for ethical issues studied in Year 9 where they will debate issues such as abortion and euthanasia.
  • Example 4: We have held the unit on Equality till the end of Year 9 as this is when students should have the substantive knowledge to understand differing religious and non-religious approaches to issues around equality and why it is important. For example, in the unit on Judaism, students have ample time to explore anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and understand how people have been persecuted based on their religion and ethnicity.
  • Example 5: Dissimilar to many RE curriculums, the United Learning curriculum has a unit that explicitly explores atheism. Through the study of religions, students see the multi-faceted nature of religious belief, however often non-religious viewpoints are not explored in the same way. This unit sits towards the end of Year 8 as an optional unit within the curriculum but allows students to engage with the thoughts of those who have been critical of religion and helps students form a balanced view on the nature of religious and non-religious belief.

For more information please contact

Mr D Hargreaves, Head of Humanities

Mr P McKenzie, Teacher of Religious Education