What your child learns in KS2 RE
In today’s increasingly multicultural society, learning about world religions is a vital part of children’s education, helping them develop an understanding and tolerance of other people’s faiths.
All maintained primary schools have to provide religious education (RE) in Key Stage 2, but confusingly, it’s not part of the National Curriculum. This means that the content of RE lessons isn’t determined by the Government. Instead, most schools follow what’s known as a ‘locally agreed syllabus’.
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The locally agreed syllabus is a curriculum for RE drawn up by the local authority. It’s put together by a group of experts including teaching associations and representatives of the Church of England and other faiths. By law, it has to reflect the fact that Great Britain’s religious traditions are mainly Christian, while taking into account its other principal religions.
Faith schools are allowed to set their own RE syllabus in line with the teaching and practices of their religious denomination. The governing body decides what the syllabus will include.
The National Framework for Religious Education in KS2
Although there’s no National Curriculum for RE, the RE Council of England and Wales has produced a National Curriculum Framework for RE (NCFRE) which many local authorities follow when drawing up their locally agreed syllabus.
In KS2, pupils are expected to expand on the knowledge and understanding of religions and worldviews that they gained in KS1.
The NCFRE says they should:
- Describe and make connections between different features of the religions and worldviews they study, discovering more about celebrations, worship, pilgrimages and rituals.
- Describe and understand links between stories and other aspects of the communities they are investigating, responding thoughtfully to a range of sources of wisdom and to beliefs and teachings of different communities.
- Explore and describe a range of beliefs, symbols and actions so they can understand different ways of life and ways of expressing meaning.
- Observe and understand varied examples of religions and worldviews so that they can explain, with reasons, their meanings and significance to individuals and their communities.
- Understand the challenges of commitment to a faith community, suggesting why belonging to a community might be valuable.
- Observe and consider different dimensions of religion, showing an understanding of similarities and differences within and between religions and worldviews.
- Discuss and present their own and others’ views on questions of belonging, meaning, purpose and truth, through different forms such as music, art and poetry.
- Consider and apply ideas about ways in which diverse communities live together for the wellbeing of all, taking account of values, community and respect.
- Discuss and apply their own and others’ ideas about ethical questions, including ideas about right and wrong, and justice and fairness.
KS2 Religious Education: lesson examples
Because the RE syllabus isn’t prescribed by the National Curriculum, the way in which it’s taught will vary between schools. However, these are examples of the sort of lessons your KS2 child may take part in.
Year 4 children study the religious codes for living of the major UK religions (e.g. the 10 commandments in Christianity). They discuss the similarities and differences between the codes, then come up with their own code of conduct for school life.
A Year 5 class uses art or music to create a piece of work that sums up their understanding of what it means to belong to a particular religion.
A Year 6 class visits different places of worship, including a church, synagogue and mosque, and compares how their architecture expresses each community’s way of life, religious customs and values.
As RE is not a National Curriculum subject, there is no formal assessment for children in primary schools.
Withdrawing your child from RE lessons
It’s your right to withdraw your child from RE as a whole, or from specific lessons, events or celebrations. You don’t have to provide the school with any reasons for this; however, the school should make sure you’re aware of the content of its RE syllabus so you can make an informed decision.