Section 1: Aims

What are we trying to achieve in RE?


The National Curriculum Framework for RE (NCFRE) contained a statement of the purpose of study (p11) and general overviews or summaries (p12) for the subject, for pupils aged 4-19. The summaries and key stage ‘requirements’[1] (p13-25) provide the broad starting point for this guidance on curriculum design.


The NCFRE does not include detailed guidance about the content of the RE curriculum. What follows provides guidance about possible ways of identifying the content for each key stage and exemplifying ways in which this content might be translated into the design of the curriculum.


The approach which follows will provide ideas for developing a well-designed curriculum compatible with the proposals in the NCFRE. The intention is to:


  • provide the building blocks of a well-designed curriculum, giving a coherent structure and rationale for each element included
  • provide a common approach to curriculum design, which means ideas can be shared easily by different schools.
  • provide ideas which are compatible with the guidance in the NCFRE.


The question of which religions and non-religious worldviews to include at each key stage has been left outside the scope of this document, since this is a choice made by agreed syllabus conferences, schools or other curriculum designers, within the context of the legal requirements.


The question of pedagogical approaches to RE is also left outside the scope of this document. This will be a matter for curriculum designers and schools to determine. Different pedagogies could be used for different units as appropriate. (RE:ONLINE’s material on RE pedagogy – How RE – for more information)



[1] The NCFRE uses the word ‘requirements’ to denote those elements of curriculum content which are the basic essentials of a broad, balanced and coherent RE curriculum. Although they are not requirements in the statutory sense, they are considered vital in any programme that promotes religious literacy.