To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what level of religious education is legally required to have been achieved by the time a student reaches 16 at (a) maintained and (b) academic schools.
State-funded schools in England have a duty to teach religious education (RE) to all pupils aged 5 to 18. While academies, free schools and most maintained schools designated as having a religious character may design and follow their own curriculum, all other maintained schools must follow their area’s locally agreed syllabus for RE.
A locally agreed syllabus sets out what pupils should be taught and may include the expected standards of pupils’ performance at different stages. Legislation requires that every agreed syllabus must reflect ‘that the religious traditions of Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain’.
Neither legislation nor academies’ funding agreements prescribe how much time should be devoted to RE or how it should be provided. However, we would expect an academy to have a plan or scheme of work which demonstrates how provision across the year groups is structured to ensure that all pupils receive RE which matches the legal requirement for an agreed syllabus as set out above.
Although not mandatory for all schools, teaching an accredited religious studies qualification at key stage 4 may be required by a locally agreed syllabus; and many schools teach the religious studies GCSE. The Department has set out the educational outcomes and content coverage required for GCSE specifications in this subject, which can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/gcse-religious-studies. Where key stage 4 pupils do not take a religious studies qualification, the requirement to teach religious education still applies.
Department for Education guidance on religious education for maintained schools is at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/religious-education-guidance-in-english-schools-non-statutory-guidance-2010; and for academies and free schools at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/re-and-collective-worship-in-academies-and-free-schools/religious-education-re-and-collective-worship-in-academies-and-free-schools.