The National Curriculum Framework for RE has been produced by the Religious Education Council for England and Wales (REC) and is intended as a replacement for subject guidance last issued in 2004.
The framework has been created after an 18-month subject review led by the REC involving professional associations and faith and belief groups.
While the review has received the support of education secretary Michael Gove, who writes the foreword to the 72-page document, the REC is now calling on the Department for Education to provide a plan to support its recommendations.
While RE remains a statutory requirement for schools, provision has been hit in recent years because of the introduction of the English Baccalaureate league table measure, which does not include the subject within its humanities bracket, and the removal of short course GCSEs from headline measures of school performance.
The most recent evidence of this came last month when Ofsted published its report Religious Education: Realising the potential. It found that around half of 185 schools visited had changed curriculum provision for RE in response to education policy. Inspectors reported a “significant reduction in the provision for RE in some schools”.
The REC’s framework sets out the purpose and aims of RE and its contribution to the school curriculum. It includes guidance on the knowledge, understanding and skills required at key stages 1 to 3 and an overview for key stage 4 and 16 to 19 education.
Its authors hope the framework will work in parallel with the new national curriculum and provide a national benchmark for teachers.
John Keast, chair of the REC, said: “In recent years, RE has fallen into a vacuum. Falling back on the safety net of statutory provision is not enough to ensure consistent high standards, strong teaching, adequate examination provision and clarity on what the subject covers. Having a thoroughly reconsidered national curriculum framework is a means of changing both practice and attitudes to RE.”
The wider subject review also calls for “direct and effective attention” to be given to the shortage of properly trained RE teachers. This comes after RE teacher training bursaries have been withdrawn and the number of places available to those who want to train has been cut.
Download the RE subject review including the National Curriculum Framework for RE at www.religiouseducationcouncil.org