House of Commons Library

Religious Education in schools (England)

Published Thursday, July 7, 2016

What is taught in Religious Education in English schools? This briefing sets out the rules in place, as well as issues surrounding the teaching of RE and its curriculum, and information on related topics such as collective worship and the right to withdraw a child from RE classes.

Jump to full report >>

Religious Education (RE) must be taught by all state-funded schools.  However, it has an unusual position on the curriculum: it is part of the basic curriculum but not the National Curriculum, and is one of two subjects (along with sex and relationship education) where parents have a legal right to withdraw their children from class.

This briefing introduces the rules around RE in state-funded schools, whether they are academies or free schools, or maintained by a local authority.  It also introduces concerns that have been raised about the quality of RE teaching, including the number of RE teachers with qualifications relevant to the subject.  It also provides information on other related issues, such as the parental right of withdrawal from RE, and the rules on collective worship in schools.

As schools policy is a devolved topic, this briefing provides information on the position in England.  Information on the teaching of RE in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is available on the website of the respective countries’ governments.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7167

Authors: Robert Long; Susan Hubble; Paul Bolton

Topics: Schools, Teachers

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.