Teaching Religious Education compulsory in UK since WW2 1944


Religious Education is compulsory in state schools, but it is left up to local authorities to determine what is in the curriculum.

What is the law on RE?

In England, Religious Education is governed by the Education Act 1944, the Education Reform Act 1988 and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. The provision of Religious Education is compulsory in all state-funded schools although parents have a right to withdraw their children from Religious Education

Each LA (local authority) is required to establish a Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE), which will, among other duties, convene an Agreed Syllabus Conference to monitor the provision and quality of RE taught according to the agreed syllabus.

While not part of Religious Education, schools are also required by law to provide a daily act of collective worship, of which at least 51% must be Christian in basis over the course of an academic year.

In Scotland, RE is called Religious and Moral Education, from ages five to 14, and Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies from 14 to 18. The majority of state schools are non-denominational, but as a result of the Education Act 1918, separate denominational state schools were also established. The vast majority of denominational state schools are Roman Catholic but there are also a number of Scottish Episcopal schools.

A 2017 report found up to a quarter of secondary schools in England did not teach RE, in breach of the law. It said the data showed a shortage of specialist RE teachers throughout the state system. The research was carried out in partnership with the RE Council for England and Wales.

In response, the main union for secondary head teachers, the Association of School and College Leaders, said many schools covered religious issues in ways other than RE lessons, such as conferences, citizenship classes or assemblies.

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