RE Update January 2016

The Diocese of St Albans
Religious Education in Church of England schools
This is an update on RE in C of E schools in the Diocese of St Albans. Please share
it with RE coordinators, governors and clergy.
As many of you know, RE has had high profile in the media and press over the past
year as national reports note changes in the religious make-up in society. All the
reports have called for and made a number of recommendations, one of which is for
government to update the 1944 and 1988 Education Acts with regard to RE (and
Collective Worship). Whilst this national debate continues, it is important for church
schools to be clear about the purpose of RE in a church school and to address the
issues of standards and syllabuses in a post levels era.
Over the last seven years there have been a number of HMI reports and, most
recently, a National Society report
church_of_england_schools.pdf which raised questions about knowledge and
understanding of Christianity in particular and standards in RE in general in schools.
‘Making a Difference’ celebrated RE in many C of E secondary schools, where
specialists were appointed and RE was taken seriously by senior staff, but the report
referred to a ‘conundrum’ with regard to some primary C of E schools, where RE is
taken seriously by senior staff but pupils are not showing progression. This did not
refer to the use of the eight level scale, but, for want of a better phrase, shows how
‘religiously literate’ pupils become by the end of KS2.
As a result of these reports, the National Society commissioned a ‘Christianity
Project’ to support pupils to achieve a deeper understanding of the Christian Faith by
learning about key Christian Concepts through a spiral curriculum. This project is
being launched in late May 2016 at Lambeth Palace and will be available to all
schools in the country. RE Today have written and produced the materials and
national training for schools will take place from July 2016. This project will have an
impact in our schools.
The Diocese of St Albans has had a long history of supporting VA schools that wish
to develop their own RE scheme of work according to their Trust Deed, whilst
recognising other religions, but advice has also been to follow the Local Agreed
Syllabus, as VC schools are required to do by law. The diocese provided additional
Christianity units a number of years ago ( to support
the teaching of Christianity in all our schools. The introduction of the Christianity
Project will lead to a new national approach to teaching Christianity and may result in
a diocesan scheme of work for church schools.
Holywell Lodge 41 Holywell Hill St Albans Herts AL1 1HE
The St Albans Diocesan Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales No145227.
Registered as a charity No 248887
With regard to assessment, church schools have traditionally followed the national
eight level scale for assessment for RE, which remains unchanged at the moment.
Advice from the RE Council for England and Wales has been issued that the
Attainment Targets 1 and 2 should be merged.
Over the next few terms a number of documents will be produced to raise standards
in RE in C of E primary and secondary schools, but it will take time to trial some of
the materials, link them to a new system of assessment and possibly write a scheme
of work for Christianity (as some dioceses do). Our LA Agreed Syllabuses also need
to be revised by law in the future, so we may expect changes in assessment and a
requirement that ‘less is more’ in RE too.
Whilst awaiting national initiatives to come on stream, my advice to schools wishing
to improve standards in RE in church schools is:
 Invite me in to talk to senior leaders and RE teachers about the Purpose of RE
and new forms of assessment in RE
 Attend training organised by the Schools Team on Christian concepts (eg
Salvation on 20 January)
 Consider creating an RE group in your area to support each other
 Book dates in the autumn term 2016 to introduce the concepts and pedagogy
to regional clusters of schools
 Consider changes to your scheme of work based on the above
 Follow the REQM website to improve RE across the school
Jane Chipperton
Diocesan RE Adviser
January 2016
Holywell Lodge 41 Holywell Hill St Albans Herts AL1 1HE
The St Albans Diocesan Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales No145227.
Registered as a charity No 248887