Stephen Timms; MP for East Ham asked the following parliamentary questions on Religious Education which were answered by Schools’ Minister Nick Gibb MP this week.
Questions: 1. To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Answer of 16 April 2018 to Question 134699 on Religion: Education:

• whether his Department has a copy of the locally agreed syllabus for religious education for each local education authority in England.

• whether his Department has a record for each local education authority of:
o (a) the date on which its religious education syllabus was last reviewed and

o (b) when the current syllabus was brought into effect.

2. To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's 2012 guidance on Religious education (RE) and collective worship in academies and free schools, what information his Department holds on (a) the religious education syllabus operating in each academy school and (b) whether that syllabus is the agreed syllabus for its locality.
3. To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Answer of 16 April 2018 to Question 134699 on Religion: Education, what assessment his Department has made of the (a) adequacy of the different syllabuses for religious education in place in England and (b) extent to which those syllabuses take account of the teaching and practices of the principal religions represented in Great Britain; and if he will make a statement.
Answers: Local authorities are responsible for convening an Agreed Syllabus Conference every five years, and for providing an agreed syllabus which specified maintained schools must comply with. This must reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are Christian, in the main, whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain. The Department does not hold a copy of each local authority area’s agreed syllabus for religious education (RE) when it came into effect or was last reviewed. There is also no requirement for local authority areas to provide my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education with this information.

The Department would encourage any local authority to publish their locally agreed syllabus or a summary of its main provisions, although they are not required by legislation to do so. Both maintained schools and academies should, however, publish on their websites the curriculum of every subject taught in each academic year, including RE. Local residents can find details of the RE curriculum provided by state-funded schools in their area, whether in accordance with the locally agreed syllabus or otherwise. The Government guidance for the provision of RE in local authority maintained schools is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/religious-education-guidance-in-english-schools-non-statutory-guidance-2010 (opens in a new tab).

Academies and free schools are not required to comply with a locally agreed syllabus, though they may choose to adopt it. The funding agreement for each academy and free school does, however, require these schools to teach RE. The Department does not hold information on the number of academies and free schools that have adopted a locally agreed syllabus, or the specific details of their RE curriculum. Similarly, the Department does not quality assure a school’s individual RE curriculum to assess their adequacy, or the extent to which they take account of the teaching and practices of the principal religions represented in Great Britain. If the Department is informed that an agreed syllabus or an academy’s RE syllabus may be in breach of statutory requirements or their funding agreement, this will be investigated. Where needed, the Department will remind schools of their duty on this matter and advise on how this can be met.

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