Blog piece:  “It’s about the standard, not the stuff” – National Content Standard

Resource Infomation

The vision of the RE Council of England and Wales is for every young person to experience an academically rigorous and personally inspiring education in religion and worldviews. The publishing of a National Content Standard for RE for England provides clarification and a benchmark for excellence in religion and worldviews/religious education (RE) thus contributing to this vision.

The RE Council’s National Content Standard for RE for England provides a non-statutory benchmark for syllabus providers and other bodies to evaluate their work.  It is not a curriculum, and it does not determine precisely what content schools should teach.  Rather it is a standard by which different RE curricula, content, pedagogy, and provision can be benchmarked.

Without a national standard for RE, it can be challenging for syllabus providers including Standing Advisory Councils on RE, Academy Trusts and others to know if their RE provision is of high quality when compared to other subjects, schools, and regions. It can be difficult to set targets for improvement in provision such as when Ofsted describe an RE curriculum as lacking breadth, depth and/or ambition.

The National Content Standard

  • is developed around extracts from a draft resource released in May 2022 which has been the focus of extensive consultation and scrutiny. The final version of this resource will form a handbook for curriculum developers in the subject and is due for completion in Spring 2024.
  • uses the format of a National Curriculum Programme of Study because, although Religious education is part of the ‘basic curriculum’, which is the collective term for RE, SRE and the National Curriculum, it is a format familiar to school leaders and curriculum developers.
  • differs from a national curriculum programme of study because it provides a benchmark for the subject within the current legal framework, including the selection of content, but does not seek to recommend or specify a set of content.
  • recognises that models for the description of progress can only be produced once specific content has been selected and therefore a structure for progression has been developed and not a comprehensive set of descriptors.

The RE Council has partnered with a range of contributors in the national RE sector in this project.  This group encompasses organisations that, among other tasks, operate thousands of schools, provide DfE-endorsed school curriculum content, and directly support teachers nationally in raising standards in RE.  This work gives us high confidence that the National Content Standard can both meet the needs of all state funded schools and be adopted by many providers in a range of contexts.

The RE Council is currently collecting endorsements from school providers, academy trusts, RE Council member organisations and others who recognise the National Content Standard as a benchmark for high quality RE and want to use it to raise standards.