Schools Minister reiterates schools duty to teach RE to all pupils aged 5-18

NATRE was pleased to see that Nick Gibb MP, Minister for schools, has given a clear and fulsome answer to a question from Luke Pollard MP regarding schools and RE.

We note from his answer below that he restates that;

  • State-funded schools in England have a duty to teach religious education to all pupils aged 5 to 18 years
  • where pupils do not choose Religious Studies as an examination subject, the requirement to teach religious education still applies.
  • An agreed syllabus can stipulate that pupils follow an accredited qualification such as GCSE

He also clearly says that in the reopening of schools;

  • Religious education is explicitly stated as one of the subjects that should be taught

The RE Policy Unit would like to thank Luke Pollard MP for asking this question.

Luke Pollard MP

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department plans to publish on the provision of Religious Education in the curriculum after the full reopening of schools during the COVID-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department plans to publish on the provision of Religious Education teaching for pupils who choose not to opt for that subject as an examination subject at Key Stage Four after the full reopening of schools during the covid-19 outbreak; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to ensure that all pupils receive their entitlement to religious education after schools are reopened as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased; and if he will make a statement.

Nick Gibb MP

State-funded schools in England have a duty to teach religious education to all pupils aged 5 to 18 years. While academies, free schools and most maintained schools designated as having a religious character may design and follow their own curriculum, all other state schools must follow their area’s locally agreed syllabus for religious education. Unless stipulated in a locally agreed syllabus, pupils do not have to be taught an accredited Religious Studies qualification. However, where pupils do not choose it as an examination subject, the requirement to teach religious education still applies.

The Department’s guidance on full opening of schools sets the expectation that schools teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects from the start of the autumn, but that they use their existing curriculum flexibilities within subjects to create time to cover the most important missed content. Religious education is explicitly stated as one of the subjects that should be taught. The guidance was published on 2 July and can be found here.

The Department’s guidance on religious education is already available for both maintained schools and for academies and free schools. The guidance for maintained schools is here.

The guidance for academies and free schools here.

No additional guidance on this subject is therefore needed.

Nick Gibb’s answer to Luke Pollard's Parliamentary question on this subject can be found here.

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