RE in the Church School: Excellent and Distinctive

RE is an academic subject but also provides opportunity for children to understand what it means to be a religious believer in the world today and to encounter the values of the Christian community of the school that they are a part of. RE in the Church school should support children to recognise and act on the insights, principles, beliefs, attitudes and values that should influence, inspire or guide them in life.

Balanced RE

The purpose of RE is religious literacy. This means, helping children and young people to hold balanced and well-informed conversations about religion and belief.

A balanced RE needs to provide a balance between three disciplines. These are:

• Theology

• Philosophy

• Human/Social Sciences

Theology: This is about believing. It looks at where beliefs come from, how they have changed over time, how they are applied differently in different contexts and how they relate to each other.

Philosophy: This is about thinking. It is about finding out how and whether things make sense. It deals with questions of morality and ethics. It takes seriously the nature of reality, knowledge and existence.

Human/Social Sciences: This is about living. It explores the diverse ways in which people practise their beliefs. It engages with the impact of beliefs on individuals, communities and societies.

An animation explaining these three disciplines is available to view here:

This work has been developed with support from the Church of England Education Office and in collaboration with teachers and subject experts over the last four years.

The RE advisers are: Jane Chipperton (Diocese of St Albans), Gillian Georgiou (Diocese of Lincoln), Olivia Seymour (Diocese of York) and Kathryn Wright (Diocese of Norwich).

Further support can be found in the following documents.

"What opportunities do children get from RE in the Church of England school?"

Pupils will have opportunities to

Religious Education in Different School Types

Religious Education in Voluntary Aided (VA) schools

For Voluntary Aided Schools with a religious character Religious Education is the responsibility of the governing body. The Diocesan Board of Education recommends its syllabus for adoption as it has been written to reflect the religious foundation of a Voluntary Aided school in York Diocese.

Religious Education in Voluntary Controlled (VC) and Foundation schools

Voluntary Controlled schools with a religious character should follow the Local Authority Agreed Syllabus unless parents request a denominational one. There is much in the diocesan syllabus to support schools to achieve Christian distinctiveness and the diocese strongly suggests that schools use the support materials in the syllabus as they will complement the Locally Agreed Syllabus.

Religious Education in an Academy

The requirements for Religious Education at an academy with a religious foundation are specified in the funding agreement for that academy.

For a VA school that converts to academy status the model funding agreement specifies that an academy with a religious designation must provide RE in accordance with the tenets of the particular faith specified in the designation. The diocesan syllabus is written to support academies within the Diocese of York to meet the requirements of their funding agreement.

Foundation or Voluntary Controlled schools with a religious designation that convert to academy status must arrange for RE in accordance with the requirements for agreed syllabuses (in the main Christian whilst taking account of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain) unless any parents request that their children receive RE in accordance with the tenets of the school’s faith. If any parents do request this, the academy must make arrangements for those children to receive such RE unless, because of special circumstances, it would be unreasonable to do so. The funding agreement sets this out (by applying the relevant provisions of the Education Act 1996 and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998). In practice these academies generally choose to follow the locally agreed syllabus. The Diocese of York would commend this.

Schools that are sponsored by the Diocese as Church of England academies will have a funding agreement that is most likely to reflect the funding agreement for a VA school. These schools are therefore most likely to be required to deliver RE in accordance with the tenets of the Anglican Church. The diocesan syllabus is written to support academies within the Diocese of York to meet the requirements of their funding agreement.

Religious Education in Community Schools

Community schools must follow their Locally Agreed Syllabus. The York Diocesan Board of Education’s syllabus for Religious Education has a flexibility allowing for a balanced selection of material to be made reflecting the local context. The Diocesan Syllabus could be used alongside its counterpart from the Local Authority to provide extra support materials. It is intended to be a support to community schools in their teaching of Christianity as well as the foundation for religious education in church schools.

If you would like a copy of the Diocesan Syllabus (for Primary and Secondary Schools) please contact Olivia Seymour