Religious Education

The Leeds Diocesan Board of Education understands the driving purpose of RE in Church of England schools and academies to be the development of secure religious literacy.  The aim of this is to ensure that our pupils are able to hold informed and balanced conversations about different religions and beliefs.

Some key elements in RE underpin this aim

  • RE is an academic subject: This means that RE is taught in a way that is rigorous and intellectually stimulating. It requires pupils to think critically about religious beliefs and practices, and to develop their own understanding of the world.

  • It provides pupils with the opportunity to understand what it means to be a religious believer in the world today: This means that RE helps children to understand the different ways in which people around the world express their religious beliefs. It also helps them to understand the challenges and opportunities that religious believers face in the modern world.

  • Encourages pupils to encounter the values of the Christian community of the school that they are a part of: This means that RE helps children to understand the values that are important to the Christian community of their school.

  • It supports pupils in recognising and acting on the insights, principles, beliefs, attitudes, and values that should influence, inspire, or guide them in life.

General Information

  • Religious education (RE) is part of the basic curriculum entitlement for all registered pupils in all schools, including sixth form.

  • In Church schools, which are open to pupils of all religious traditions and those of no religious background, RE has a central place within a distinctive curriculum and is seen as a core subject. 

  • RE is not the same as religious instruction – it does not seek to impose any one set of beliefs or doctrine.

  • RE is about developing a religious and theological literacy so that pupils will be able to engage with some of the big questions of meaning and purpose in life and develop an understanding of what followers of a religion believe and how those beliefs shape the lives of individuals, communities and wider society.

  • All schools are required to teach about Christianity, and in Church schools this will be at least 50% of the RE curriculum.

Statement of Entitlement

This document outlines the expectations of the Church of England Education Office in relation to Religious Education. This document is used by SIAMS (Section 48) inspectors when they are assessing the quality of RE in church schools and academies.

Which Syllabus for Religious Education should my school use?

  • Voluntary controlled and foundation schools must comply with their Local Authority’s Locally Agreed Syllabus for RE

  • In a Voluntary Aided Church of England school and former VA schools, governors are ultimately responsible for the subject and they must ensure that their Religious Education syllabus and provision is in accordance with "the rites, practices and beliefs of the Church of England" and we strongly recommend that they are based on this Diocesan syllabus.

  • The Diocesan Syllabus for RE (VA schools) is avaliable here. (You will need your password to access this please email

Balanced RE

This animation presents a well-rounded strategy for curriculum design in Religious Education (RE).

The RE curriculum design approach was collaboratively developed by four Diocesan RE advisers: Jane Chipperton (St Alban's), Gillian Georgiou (Lincoln), Olivia Seymour (York), and Kathryn Wright (Norwich). Their work involved extensive collaboration with teachers and subject experts over the course of four years. Recently, the Church of England Education Office has provided its support to further enhance this approach.

The main goal of this balanced approach is to equip students with the ability to engage in balanced and well-informed discussions about various religions and beliefs. By adopting this balanced approach, children and young people can effectively enhance their religious literacy, which includes the study of diverse religions, belief systems, and worldviews.

For more comprehensive information on the evolving Religion and Worldviews and the Balanced RE approach, you can find additional resources on RE:Online here.

Understanding Christianity

  • This is high-quality, widely-used resource for teaching about Christianity, developed by Church of England Education Office and RE Today Services.

  • It offers a spiral model of investigating eight core concepts that tell the 'big story' of Christianity. 

  • Understanding Christianity forms a central part of the Diocesan Syllabus for RE.

  • Further information about Understanding Christianity can be found here

  • The full resource is only available through accredited training – to see if training is available and book places please contact the Education Team.

Parental right of withdrawal 

  • Parents (or pupils themselves if they are aged 18 or over) have the right to request that the pupil be withdrawn from all or part of the RE provided.

  • There is no requirement to provide reasons for the request but schools will appreciate the opportunity to discuss the RE curriculum and arrangements for the withdrawal with parents.

  • The school may also wish to review such a request each year, in discussion with the parents.

  • The right of withdrawal does not extend to other areas of the curriculum when, as may happen on occasion, spontaneous questions on religious matters are raised by pupils or there are issues related to religion that arise in other subjects such as history or citizenship

RE Subject Leadership

If you are a new RE subject leader do get in touch with your named adviser and we will discuss how we might assist with developing RE in your school.

For Primary - Topics you may want to discuss (not exhaustive):

  • The legal position and RE

  • Using the Diocesan or Locally Agreed Syllabi

  • Long and medium term planning - we have a number of exemplars to share with schools that have bought into the Enhanced Service Plan (ESP)

  • How to evidence good RE, e.g. the use of Big Books

  • Assessment of RE

  • Tracking progress in RE

  • Quality assurance of your school's RE

  • Staff training and building staff confidence to teach excellent RE

  • Implementing the Understanding Christianity resource

  • The RE Matters Networking sessions

For secondary - Topics you may want to discuss (not exhaustive):

  • The legal position and RE

  • Yr7 Transition

  • KS3 RE - Using the Diocesan or Locally Agreed Syllabi

  • Planning Programmes of Learning

  • KS4 RE - Raising standards at GCSE

  • KS5 RE - Raising standards at A level

  • Planning core RE

  • Quality assurance in your RE dept

  • Staff training and building staff confidence to teach excellent RE

  • Implementing the Understanding Christianity resource

  • The RE Matters Networking session

Further Support

We have a comprehensive range of training and support. Every school also has a named adviser who is able to offer guidance and support if your school subscribed to the Enhanced Service Plan. 

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