Aims and purposes of RE

RE provides opportunities for students to:

  • develop their knowledge and understanding of, and their ability to respond to, Christianity and the other principal religions represented in Great Britain;

  • explore issues within, across and between faiths to help them understand and respect different religions, beliefs, values and traditions (including ethical life stories), and understand the influence of these on individuals, societies, communities and cultures;

  • consider questions of meaning and purpose in life;

  • learn about religious and ethical teaching, enabling them to make reasoned and informed judgements on religious and moral issues;

  • develop their sense of identity and belonging, preparing them for life as citizens in a plural society;

  • develop enquiry and response skills through the use of distinctive language, listening and empathy;

  • reflect on, analyse and evaluate their beliefs, values and practices and communicate their responses.

RE does not seek to urge religious beliefs on children nor to compromise the integrity of their own beliefs by promoting one religion over another.

Content of RE

In RE, students acquire and apply knowledge and understanding of:

Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism;

  • how these religions influence individuals, communities, society and the world.

  • the nature of belief, religion, philosophy and ethics.

As well as learning about religions, students also develop their ability to respond to what they have learnt.

Language and communication

Students develop language skills through:

  • talking about their work and presenting their own ideas using sustained and systematic writing of different kinds;

  • studying sacred texts and stories;

  • extracting information from sources such as reference books, CD-ROMs, e-mails and the internet.

Values and attitudes


  • work with others, listening to each other's ideas, and treat others with respect;

  • have opportunities to consider their own experiences, attitudes and values, and those of other people;

  • develop respect for evidence and critically evaluate ideas that may or may not fit the evidence available;

  • identify puzzling questions and suggest answers;

  • develop their understanding of why certain things are held to be right or wrong;

  • relate to moral and religious issues.

Building on children's earlier experiences

These experiences are likely to have included:

  • learning about the beliefs and cultures of others;

  • sharing the celebration of different festivals;

  • hearing stories from a variety of cultural and religious traditions.

Features of progression

Progress in RE can be characterised by:

  • acquiring wider and more detailed knowledge of religious beliefs and practices;

  • deepening understanding of the meaning of stories, symbols, events and practices;

  • more fluent and competent use of religious language and terminology;

  • increased levels in skills of responding to questions of identity, meaning, purpose, values and commitment.

Progression depends on the provision of regular opportunities for pupils to engage in and develop their skills of:

  • investigation;

  • interpretation;

  • reflection;

  • empathy;

  • evaluation;

  • analysis;

  • synthesis;

  • application;

  • expression.

As they move through school children progress:



using everyday language

increasingly precise use of religious vocabulary

personal knowledge of a few areas of RE

understanding a wider range of areas and the links between them

unstructured exploration

more systematic investigation of questions

identifying what is of value and concern to themselves or others

asking questions and suggesting answers to moral and religious questions