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Religious Education in the National Curriculum
Why should I study religion and worldviews?
Religious education is a required subject of the national curriculum of maintained schools. Academies and free schools are also required through the terms of their funding to make provision for the teaching of religious education to all pupils.
Religious education plays a part, in a positive, energetic, and innovative manner, to children and young people’s education by raising pertinent questions about meaning and purpose in life. It imparts beliefs about God, ultimate reality, and explores issues of right and wrong as a human being. A variety of answers to these questions is explored.
At the same time that religious education helps to develop children’s and young people’s mental, cognitive and linguistic development, it offers particular and unique opportunities to develop children’s and young people’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. Reflection, discussion, dialogue and debate are key in allowing for sensitive responses to be made to unforeseen events of a religious, moral or philosophical nature, whether local, national or global.
Children and young people should learn to consider the value of wisdom from many different sources, in order to develop and express their own insights in response, perhaps to agree or disagree respectfully.
In order to develop their own insights, children and young people should be presented with knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and worldviews in a systematic way appropriate to their age. Equipped with such knowledge, children and young people are able to engage in discussion about society with its multiple and sometimes conflicting religions and worldviews.
Children and young people should develop the skills needed to understand different interpretations for the beliefs held. They should examine carefully sources of wisdom and authority and other evidence. Then they will be in a position to express clearly and coherently their personal beliefs, ideas, values and experiences while respecting the right of others to think differently.
The curriculum for religious education aims to ensure that all children and young people know about and understand a range of religions and worldviews. They should be able to describe, explain and analyse beliefs and practices, acknowledging the many differences which exist within and between communities and amongst individuals. Through careful consideration of the sources of wisdom found in religions and worldviews, children and young people should learn to respond critically to questions raised. At the same time, they should respect how different ways of life express a unique meaning for those who follow them.
All children and young people should learn about the significant effect religions and worldviews have impacted on history. It is essential that they can explain reasonably their ideas about how beliefs and practices, including how they are expressed, influence individuals and communities. In particular, children and young people should learn how to share their personal ideas and considered responses to the questions and teachings about moral issues, identity and the meaning and purpose of life. To fully appreciate the many and varied teachings of religion and worldviews is something to which all children and young people should aspire.
At every key stage, children and young people should continually develop their knowledge and understanding of religions and world views appreciating their local, national and global contexts. They should be introduced to an extended range of sources and subject specific vocabulary. They should be encouraged to be curious and to ask increasingly challenging questions about religion, belief, values and human life.