Research review series: religious education

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Wednesday 12th May 2021 – Ofsted’s review of Religious Education has been published.

In religious education (RE), pupils enter into a rich discourse about the religious and non-religious traditions that have shaped Great Britain and the world. RE in primary and secondary schools enables pupils to take their place within a diverse multi-religious and multi-secular society. At its best, it is intellectually challenging and personally enriching. It affords pupils both the opportunity to see the religion and non-religion in the world, and the opportunity to make sense of their own place in that world.

This review explores literature relating to the field of RE. Its purpose is to identify factors that contribute to high-quality school RE curriculums, the teaching of the curriculum, assessment and systems.

We will use this understanding of subject quality to examine how RE is taught in England’s schools where RE falls under Ofsted’s inspection remit. The purpose of this research review is outlined more fully in the ‘Principles behind Ofsted’s research reviews and subject reports’.[footnote 1]

Since there are a variety of ways that schools can construct and teach a high-quality RE curriculum, it is important to recognise that there is no single way of achieving high-quality RE.

In this review, we have:

  • outlined the national context in relation to RE
  • summarised our review of research into factors that can affect the quality of education in RE
  • considered curriculum progression in RE, pedagogy, assessment and the impact of school leaders’ decisions on provision

The review draws on a range of sources, including our ‘Education inspection framework: overview of research’ and our 3 phases of curriculum research.[footnote 2]

It is also supported by research into RE, including research into practice and the theoretical work of academics and professionals.

We hope that, through this work, we will contribute to raising the quality of RE for all young people.