The Importance of Religious Education

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RE is the opportunity to explore a major and distinctive dimension of what it means to be a person: the search for meaning, purpose and value in a wondrous but also often confusing and sometimes threatening world. RE offers pupils the chance to raise and reflect on perennial questions about life. In doing this, it draws on the rich history of the major religious traditions and other worldviews in Britain, giving due prominence to Christianity to reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain, are in the main, Christian.

Thus, there are two main educational purposes to RE. Firstly so that pupils can learn more about themselves and their place in the world from their study of religion and worldviews. Secondly, so that they can learn about religions and worldviews which have influenced the lives of millions of people and heavily influenced the development of different human cultures. These two purposes work together and should not be treated separately.

RE is therefore both rigorously academic and personally significant.

Quality RE:

  • Teaches pupils about Christianity and other religions and worldviews so that they can understand the world better and develop their own sense of place within it.
  • Engages pupils of any religious faith or none and of all academic abilities and social backgrounds.
  • Enables pupils to engage with a range of sources such as texts, artefacts, and people.
  • Challenges pupils to question and explore their own and others’ understanding of the world.
  • Does not seek to urge beliefs upon pupils, nor compromise their own beliefs but rather to deepen their self-understanding and understanding of others.
  • Raises questions of identity, meaning, purpose and value and encourages pupils to reflect on experience, ways of living and ways of knowing.
  • Contributes positively and powerfully to the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development of pupils (SMSC).
  • Provides opportunities for pupils to develop communication and thinking skills.
  • Explores visions of humanity and at the same time reflects on the depths to which humanity can sink.
2.1 RE and Personal Development

As recognised in the School Inspection Handbook (April 2021, paragraph 256), RE contributes to Personal Development both in terms of character education and the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development (SMSC) of pupils of all ages.

Pupils’ own experiences, beliefs and perceptions lie at the heart of RE. RE develops self-concept and self-esteem, explores spiritual, moral, and social frameworks, and encourages pupils to reflect on experiences and emotions. In this way it contributes significantly to personal development.

RE and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development (SMSC).

Religious Education provides opportunities to promote spiritual development through:

  • Discussing and reflecting on key questions of meaning and truth such as the origins of the universe and of life, life after death, good and evil, beliefs about God and values such as justice, honesty, and truth.
  • Learning about and reflecting on important concepts, experiences and beliefs that are at the heart of religious and other traditions and practices.
  • Considering how beliefs and concepts in religion may be expressed through the creative and expressive arts and related to the human and natural sciences, thereby contributing to personal and communal identity.
  • Considering how religions and other world views perceive the value of human beings, and their relationships with one another, with the natural world, and with reality.
  • Reflecting on humanity’s responsibilities to and for the natural world.
  • Valuing relationships and developing a sense of belonging.
  • Developing their own views and ideas on religious and spiritual issues.

Religious Education provides opportunities to promote moral development through:

  • Enhancing the values identified within the National Curriculum, particularly valuing diversity and engaging in issues of truth, justice, and trust.
  • Exploring the influence of family, friends, and media on moral choices and how society is influenced by beliefs, teachings, sacred texts, and guidance from religious leaders.
  • Considering what is of ultimate value to pupils and believers through studying the key beliefs and teachings from religion and philosophy about values and ethical codes of practice.
  • Studying a range of ethical issues, including those that focus on justice, to promote racial and religious respect and personal integrity.
  • Considering the importance of rights and responsibilities and developing a sense of conscience.

Religious Education provides opportunities to promote social development through:

  • Considering how religious and other beliefs lead to actions and concerns.
  • Investigating social issues from religious perspectives, recognising the diversity of viewpoints within and between religions as well as the common ground between religions.
  • Articulating pupils’ own and others’ ideas on a range of contemporary social issues.
  • Contributing to and reflecting on the significance of ‘Fundamental British and Human Values’ and preventing the risks of radicalisation.

Religious Education provides opportunities to promote cultural development through:

  • Encountering and responding to people, literature, the creative and expressive arts, and resources from differing cultures.
  • Considering the relationship between religion and culture and how religions and beliefs contribute to cultural identity and practices and vice-versa.
  • Promoting racial and interfaith harmony and respect for all, combating prejudice, racism and discrimination, contributing positively to community cohesion, and promoting awareness of how interfaith collaboration can support the pursuit of the common good.
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