Deciding how to organise the curriculum


Those responsible for constructing syllabuses can provide freedom for individual schools to decide how to organise their RE curriculum. They should, however, advise schools to ensure that provision is clearly focused on an agreed purpose and set of aims, offers a balanced set of enquiries and identifies clear progression outcomes. This section interprets the design principles for the primary and secondary phases. In special schools the curriculum will be designed to take account of the particular needs of the pupils concerned. Guidance for special schools will be available in spring 2015.


Organising RE in primary schools


Schools should ensure that topics are studied in suitable depth and that therefore not too many topics are introduced in a term, a year or a key stage. A concern raised by Ofsted[1] is that when a school tries to incorporate too many very short topics, this can tend to fragment pupils’ learning. Instead, it is possible to use a variety of models of delivery including:


  • some specific major RE units taught intensively as a block over two or three weeks
  • a timetabled weekly slot for discrete RE
  • some cross-curricular units with RE linked to other areas of the curriculum – e.g. ‘Religion and belief in our community’ linked to wider local study
  • Occasional ‘off-timetable’ focus days on a selected topic


Organising RE in secondary schools


Doing ‘few topics in depth’ rather than many at a superficial level is also a good principle for RE in secondary schools. Schools will also need to consider the relationship between their KS3 curriculum and examination specifications chosen for study at KS4 and beyond.


Where RE is integrated or linked to a wider humanities provision or to any other area of the school curriculum, it is crucial that the design principles recommended in these guidelines are taken into account to ensure the RE is not lost in the process.


Schools may also wish to consider additional activities to enrich the RE provision, for example off-timetable days on topics such as Holocaust Memorial Day.



[1] Ofsted (2013) ‘Religious education: realising the potential’