Section 78 (1) of the 2002 Education Act states that all pupils should follow a balanced and broadly based curriculum which 'promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, social, mental and physical development of pupils and of society, and prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life'. Learning about and from religions and beliefs, through the distinct knowledge, understanding and skills contained in RE within a broadly based curriculum, is essential to achieving these aims. Exploring the concepts of religion and belief and their roles in the spiritual, moral and cultural lives of people in a diverse society helps individuals develop moral awareness and social understanding.
Religious education provides opportunities to promote spiritual development through:
Spirituality includes beliefs, whether religious or not, the search for meaning or purpose, relationships, creativity, a sense of otherness, wonder and awe, self-knowledge, feelings and emotions. Spiritual development can be the process by which people acquire not only knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes about spirituality, but also the disposition to foster their own inner spirit, and to recognise it in others.
Religious education provides opportunities to promote moral development through:
Morality includes values and principles, attitudes and behaviour, knowledge of social conventions and codes of conduct, and the ability to make decisions about right and wrong. Moral development can be the process by which people develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes they need in order to make responsible moral decisions and act on them, and also the disposition to do what is right as a point of principle.
Spiritual and moral development has long been recognised as important and relevant to the curriculum as a whole. A requirement to encourage pupils' spiritual and moral development, among other things, was included in the Education Reform Act 1988 and re-affirmed in the Education Act 2002. This specified that the curriculum should promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and of society, and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.
The spiritual and moral dimension is important not only as a legal requirement but also because of the way it enriches teaching and learning.