Why is religious education (RE) important?

Religious education (RE) makes a distinctive contribution to a balanced and broadly-based school curriculum which:

  • promotes the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and of society; and
  • prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

Religion and beliefs inform our values and are reflected in what we say and how we behave. Religious education provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. It develops pupils' knowledge and understanding of the nature of religion and belief including Christianity, other principal religions, other religious traditions, and world views that offer answers to these challenging questions. It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development. It enhances awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression, and of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures.

RE encourages pupils to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions, while exploring their own beliefs and questions of meaning. It challenges pupils to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their responses.

RE contributes to pupils' personal development and well-being and to community cohesion by promoting mutual respect and tolerance in a diverse society. It encourages them to develop their sense of identity and belonging. It enables them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society and global community. RE has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and lifelong learning. It enables pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own. It promotes discernment and enables pupils to combat prejudice.

RE can also make important contributions to other parts of the school curriculum such as citizenship, personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, the humanities and the arts, education for sustainable development.

How does RE contribute to wider curriculum aims?

Religious education contributes to the three statutory aims of the National Curriculum. It enables all children and young people to become:

  • successful learners who enjoy learning, make progress and achieve
  • confident individuals who are able to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives
  • responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society.

This page was last updated on 13 May 2011

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