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Frequently Asked Questions
How can I Inform Parents and carers about RE?
Religious Education: Frequently Asked Questions
All Hertfordshire Schools, other than Voluntary Aided schools, must be working with the Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus.
Why isn't RE part of the National Curriculum?
Religious education in its various forms (Scripture, Divinity, Religious Instruction/Knowledge) has been a compulsory subject in English schools since 1944. Indeed at that time it was the only compulsory subject. The National Curriculum was introduced much later, with the Education Reform Act of 1988. At this point RE became part of the basic curriculum which is an entitlement for every student. The basic curriculum is RE plus the national curriculum.
The 1944 Education Act (the Butler Act) required each local authority to produce an Agreed Syllabus for religious education. This syllabus was to be followed in every local authority school (excluding aided schools, and those where the trust deed specified otherwise). SACREs (Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education) were to be appointed to advise the local authority on teaching methods, teaching materials and the in-service training of teachers. In 1988 it was decided to uphold these arrangements, leaving the responsibility for RE with local authorities in order to take account of local and regional variations.
This is the document approved by an Agreed Syllabus Conference and adopted by the Local Authority. It identifies what should be taught within the authority and how it should be assessed. It has the same legal standing as any other subject orders.
It is a legal requirement to review of the Agreed Syllabus every five years. In Hertfordshire this involves extensive consultation with teachers, faith communities and other interested parties. This ensures that current priorities can be incorporated into the syllabus. The current Hertfordshire syllabus was reviewed and agreed in 2006. SACRE has just agreed a one year extension to this and so the next review will be completed in 2012.
Following a review every school is issued with an updated version of the syllabus. There is an electronic version available on the Hertfordshire Schools Intranet (which is only available from within a Hertfordshire school) on the RE Publications page and further hard copies can be ordered for £10 from:
Orders from Hertfordshire Schools will be sent via schools' courier service.
In Community Schools and Foundation and Voluntary Schools without a religious character, RE must be provided in accordance with the Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus.
In Foundation and Voluntary Schools with a religious character the Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus must be used unless parents request denominational teaching.
In Voluntary Aided Schools with a religious character, the required provision for RE is:
No. Schools may obviously refer to other documents for ideas and inspiration, but they must be able to show that their planning, teaching and assessment are in accordance with the Hertfordshire Agreed Syllabus.
Yes. All students on roll must study RE (from 4 to 19). This is not an option. However parents may ask to withdraw their son or daughter from all or part of the RE provision and the school must comply. Senior managers or subject leaders would usually want to discuss possibilities with parents, although this is not a requirement and parents need give no reason for their request. In Early Years, RE is integral to EYFS, but in Reception, it must be taught in accordance with the Agreed Syllabus.
Yes. If the parent asks that a pupil should be wholly or partly excused from attending any RE at the school, then the school must comply:
Further guidance on the right to withdraw can be found on the SACRE pages of the Hertfordshire Grid for Learning:
In Hertfordshire schools, all students in Key Stage 4 must have the opportunity to follow an accredited course in Religious Studies. This could be Full, Short or Entry Level. Whether or not the student is entered for a public examination is at the schools discretion. However, it is expected that where the course has been studied that pupils will have the opportunity to attain the qualification.
Time allocation for collective worship / assemblies must be separate from that allocated to Religious Education
Is it possible to give more time to RE in one year and not teach it in another?
No. The legislation requires that RE is taught in every year, so it is not possible to plan for RE in Years 7 and 8 and not in Year 9. In Key Stage 4 pupils must study RE in Year 10 and Year 11. Provision must also be made in Year 12 and Year 13.
Provision can be creative. For example RE can be offered through full day events, conferences, or within a general studies programme.
Schools are free to make their own arrangements, but must ensure that the distinctive character, skills and knowledge identified in the Agreed Syllabus are not lost or diluted. Schools must also be aware that RE must be withdrawable from; in other words, RE provision must be clearly identifiable so that pupils can be withdrawn on request. At Key Stage 4, students should be following a Religious Studies specification.
Hertfordshire SACRE provides, and regularly updates, a Faith Communities Directory which contains details of places of worship and visiting speakers from all six principal religions.
No. Although QCA developed the Non-statutory Framework for Religious Education in 2005 this document is intended to support the work of SACREs and is not for use in individual schools. There is continuing discussion about the arrangements for RE and its local status. However the law has not changed, and the legal requirement to follow the locally Agreed Syllabus will continue for the foreseeable future. This is not affected by the secondary curriculum review of 2009.
More so than ever! The news presents ever more challenging issues relating to beliefs, values and behaviours on a daily basis. The programmes of study require that students
Pupils are not receiving their entitlement, and are missing out on knowledge, skills and
Thriving and vibrant RE is a hallmark of an outstanding school.
The Hertfordshire Grid for Learning RE pages includes schemes of work, guidance documents and resources.