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National Curriculum

Relationship between the programmes of study and the RE framework

The programmes of study re-present the content of the non-statutory national framework for religious education in the same format as the other programmes of study. The content has not changed and has the same non-statutory status.

RE is a statutory subject in the curriculum, and all schools are legally obliged to teach it. Instead of statutory programmes of study at a national level, the non-statutory national framework for RE, published by DfES (now the Department for Children, Schools and Families) and QCA in 2004, offers national guidelines for the subject. The framework is intended to be used by local agreed syllabus conferences for the development of agreed syllabuses for RE, and by faith communities for the development of RE programmes.

The content of this non-statutory programme of study is substantially the same as the key stage 3 element of the non-statutory national framework. The presentation and structure is the same as the programmes of study for other subjects to facilitate cross-curricular planning.

It will also help schools make appropriate links between RE and other subjects, for example between key concepts such as diversity. It emphasises the relevance of RE to the overall curriculum aims, the Every Child Matters outcomes and personal development. It is hoped that the new format will help agreed syllabus conferences and schools plan more effectively and to national standards.

Schools should use this programme of study as supporting guidance in the context of their local agreed syllabus or governors’ policy.

Community schools and voluntary controlled schools are required to teach RE according to their local agreed syllabus. Voluntary aided schools with a religious character are required to teach RE as determined by their governors in accordance with their trust deed. 

The table below demonstrates how the text has been re-presented.

Programmes of study (2007)Non-statutory national framework (2004)Examples of how framework text has been re-presented in the programmes of study
The importance of religious educationThe importance of religious education (p7)The importance statement is the same.
Key conceptsStrands of level statements (p36)Beliefs, teachings and sources; practices and ways of life; forms of expression; identity and belonging; meaning, purpose and truth; values and commitments.
Key processesKnowledge, skills and understanding (p28)Investigate, apply, explain, evaluate, interpret, analyse, reflect, express.
Range and contentBreadth of study (religions and beliefs) (p29)Christianity; at least two other principal religions; a religious community with a significant local presence, where appropriate; and a secular world view, where appropriate.
Range and contentBreadth of study (themes) (p29)Beliefs and concepts; authority; religion and science; expressions of spirituality; ethics and relationships; rights and responsibilities; global issues; interfaith dialogue.
Curriculum opportunitiesExperiences and opportunities (p29)Encountering; visiting; discussing and questioning; reflecting on and evaluating; using a range of forms of expression; exploring connections.

In addition the programmes of study contain explanatory notes relating to highlighted words or phrases. These notes define terms, provide additional information and give examples. The examples clarify breadth of content, repeat the recommendations of the non-statutory national framework for RE, and illustrate how an approach could be contextualised.

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