Every state-funded school in England must provide the Basic Curriculum which includes provision for RE for all registered pupils at the school (including all Reception pupils and those in the sixth form), except for those withdrawn by their parents (or withdrawing themselves if they are aged 18 or over) in accordance with Schedule 19 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.
The key document in determining the teaching of RE is the locally agreed syllabus. Academies, Free Schools and Voluntary Aided schools may choose to follow their locally agreed syllabus or different locally agreed syllabus (with the permission of the SACRE concerned) or devise their own curriculum (which must broadly reflect the requirements of an agreed syllabus).
Maintained special schools and PRUs are required to ensure that as far as practicable, a pupil receives RE according to the locally agreed syllabus.
The responsibilities of governors and headteachers
Governing bodies and headteachers must:
- ensure that RE is provided as part of the school’s Basic Curriculum, following the locally agreed syllabus, unless they are schools who are free to choose the syllabus they follow (as above)
- ensure that their RE curriculum is made available on the school’s website alongside other curriculum subjects
- have an accessible route through which parents and others can request information about RE; schools may seek advice from their SACREs in addressing issues concerning RE
- provide an annual report to parents or carers giving brief particulars of progress and achievements in all subjects including RE
- provide sufficient time for the school to fulfil the requirements of the locally agreed syllabus.
SACRE upholds the longstanding recommendation in England that the amount of curriculum time for RE is a minimum of:
- 36 hours per year (equivalent 60 minutes per week) for Early Years and KS1
- 45 hours per year (equivalent to 75 minutes per week in KS2 and KS3)
- 40 hours per year (5% of curriculum for pupils not following an examination course at KS4) and equivalent time to other GCSE subjects for pupils following an examination course
- 40 hours per year (5% of curriculum for pupils not following an examination course at KS5) and equivalent time to other examination subjects for pupils following an examination course.