Religious Education

This page is all about Religious Education and aims to provide information about:

  • The Importance of Religious Education
  • The Local Syllabus for Religious Education
  • Our Religious Education Curriculum
  • Collective Worship
  • Links with spiritual development (SMSC)
  • Parents’ rights with regard to Religious Education and Collective Worship

The Importance of Religious Education

Religious education (RE) makes a distinctive contribution to a balanced and broadly-based school curriculum which:

  • promotes the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and of society and
  • prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

Religion and beliefs inform our values and are reflected in what we say and how we behave. Religious education provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. It develops pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the nature of religion and belief including Christianity, other principal religions, other religious traditions, and world views that offer answers to these challenging questions. It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development. It enhances awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression, and of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures.

RE encourages pupils to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions, while exploring their own beliefs and questions of meaning. It challenges pupils to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their responses.  RE contributes to pupils’ personal development and well-being and to community cohesion by promoting mutual respect and tolerance in a diverse society. It encourages them to develop their sense of identity and belonging. It enables them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society and global community. RE has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and lifelong learning. It enables pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own.  It promotes discernment and enables pupils to combat prejudice.  RE can also make important contributions to other parts of the school curriculum such as citizenship, personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, the humanities and the arts, education for sustainable development and others.

It is important to note that Religious Education is about developing understanding of self and others; it is not about promoting the beliefs of one religion or tradition over another.

Aims as a Community (non-church) school

Northenden Community School is community school.  It does not have a religious status (it is not a church school), nor does it promote or rely upon the teachings of one particularly religion as the foundation of the school’s ethos or teaching.  However, the school does teach and promote, through its curriculum and other activities, principles which are evident in aspects of religious faiths:

  • love and care for one another
  • respect for one another
  • the importance of family, friendship and relationships
  • personal well-being and self-esteem
  • sense of right and wrong
  • justice and restoration of relationships
  • forgiveness
  • appreciation of the world in which we live
  • understanding of different peoples, their cultures and their traditions
  • diversity
  • rights and responsibilities
  • personal reflection – learning, behaviour, friendships
  • awe and wonder

The Local Syllabus for Religious Education

There is a legal requirement for all schools to deliver a curriculum for Religious Education (R.E.).  However, there are is no National Curriculum for R.E.  Instead, schools follow the syllabus agreed by their Local Authority, often agreed by neighbouring authorities.  The body that designs and agrees the syllabus is called the SACRE, the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education.  The SACRE advises the Local Authority on matters relating to collective worship in community schools and on religious education given in accordance with the locally agreed syllabus. The SACRE monitors the effectiveness and appropriateness of the agreed syllabus, which is formally reviewed every five years.


Manchester Syllabus for Religious Education

Our teaching of this subject and the expectations we have of children are underpinned by the syllabus agreed by Manchester City Council and the SACRE.   A new syllabus was launched in 2016 for implementation in 2016 – 2021.

In each year group, children will be taught:

  • to learn about religion – the beliefs, traditions and cultures of different religions
  • to learn from religion – to shape their own lives, beliefs and values; to reflect and to respect others

Key Questions / Units of Work

The R.E. syllabus is taught through a number of units of work, each of which aims to explore a key question.

Early Years

In the Early Years Foundation Stage, understanding about different faiths and cultures is developed through the Understanding the World (People and Communities) area of learning. 

By the end of reception, children should be able to …

talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. They know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this. They know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.  

  • Which stories are special and why?
  • Which people are special and why?
  • Which places are special and why?
  • What times are special and why?
  • Being special : Where do we belong?
  • What is special about our world?

Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2)

  • Who is a Christian and what do they believe?
  • Who is a Muslim and what do they believe?
  • Who is Jewish and what do the believe?
  • What can we learn from sacred books?
  • What makes some places sacred?
  • How and why do we celebrate special times?
  • What does it mean to belong to a faith community?
  • How should we care for others and the world and why does it matter?

Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 and 4)

  • What do people believe about God?
  • Why is the Bible important to Christians today?
  • Why is Jesus inspiring to some people?
  • Why do people pray?
  • Why are festivals important to religious communities?
  • Why do some people think life is a journey?
  • What does it mean to be a Christian in Britain today?
  • What does it mean to be a Hindu in Britain today?
  • What can we learn from religious about deciding what is right and wrong?

Upper Key Stage 2 (Years 5 and 6)

  • Why do some people believe God exists?
  • What would Jesus do?  Can we live by the values of Jesus in the 21st century?
  • What do religions say to us when life gets hard?
  • If God is everywhere why go to a place of worship?
  • Is it better to express beliefs in art or charity?
  • What does it mean to be a Muslim in Britain today?
  • What matters most to Christians and Humanists?
  • What difference does it make to believe in Ahimsa (harmlessness), Grace, and Ummah (community)?

Click here for more information about the units of work and the key questions


Christianity and any other religion(s) relevant to children in the school. The choice of religion should reflect the composition of the school.  RE does not have to be provided for children in nursery education but it is able to make a valuable contribution to most of the early learning goals. It is a statutory requirement for reception children aged 5 years.

Collective Worship

At this time, all schools are required to hold a daily act of collective worship.  This majority of this collective worship has to be of a predominantly Christian nature.  Christian values, and those of other faiths, feature in our assemblies and our lessons and we provide opportunities for children to think about and reflect upon:

  • beliefs that are ‘broadly Christian’ yet common to other major world faiths
  • the respect they have for themselves and for each other
  • love, peace, good, right and wrong
  • greed, poverty, war, pollution, prejudice
  • respect, tolerance, anti-discrimination
  • tolerance, co-operation, selfishness and forgiveness
  • their place in their community and the wider world
  • charitable giving
  • feelings and emotions
  • looking after our world – environmental issues
  • people who help and inspire us
  • rights and responsibilities

We also promote these values:

  • respect, trust, fairness, understanding, sharing
  • appreciation, responsibility, caring, patience, co-operation, team-work
  • honesty, courage, freedom, quality, friendship
  • humility, happiness, thoughtfulness

Such is the scope available to the person leading collective worship. Through themes such as these the spiritual awareness of every individual may be developed. We offer children opportunities to explore and share beliefs, to consider the relevance of ideas, beliefs and values to their own lives and to think about the needs of others and what it means to be part of a community.

Visits to Places of Worship

As part of our Religious Education curriculum, pupils will have the opportunity to visit a number of places of Worship of different religious groups.  These include:

  • churches of different denominations – Catholic,  Church of England and Methodist and to learn about their differences
  • Mosque (Islam)
  • Gurdwara (Sikh)
  • Synagogue
  • Manchester Cathedral

We also invite people to visit our school to share their beliefs and customs.  These include the Buddhist Society.

Parents’ Right to Withdraw children from Religious Education

Parents have the right to request the withdrawal of their child from part or all of the Religious Education curriculum.   If you wish to withdraw your child from any part of all of our R.E. curriculum, please make an appointment to discuss this with the Headteacher.  A discussion may give you an opportunity to learn a little more about the curriculum to help you make a more informed decision or share your concerns or thoughts.  To confirm your request to withdraw your child, please do so in writing stating the part of the R.E. curriculum from which your child is to be withdrawn.  During this part of the curriculum, your child may be placed in another class to undertake alternative R.E. work or work in another subject.  The schools aims for all children, irrespective of their religious beliefs, to be involved in Religious Education lessons as the school’s curriculum promotes understanding of and respect for different faiths without promoting any particular faith or practice.


There is a link between the teaching of Religious Education and Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development.  Spiritual development is achieved in so many different ways, not just through the teaching of Religious Education or collective worship.  Click here to find out more about SMSC development at our school.

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