NATRE welcome OFSTED’s RE research report

NATRE warmly welcomes Ofsted’s Research review report on religious education, which highlights the priority Ofsted places on the importance of high quality RE in all schools.

We are pleased to note the reiteration of the law that RE is for all pupils in all key stages and all types of state funded schools, including special schools and academies. As the report notes, if schools do not teach pupils any RE, this is illegal.

Ofsted acknowledges that any high-quality RE curriculum must have sufficient teaching time. NATRE has worked hard for many years to make clear the importance of sufficient curriculum time for RE and we are pleased to see Ofsted recognise the importance of this issue. Delivering RE in tutor time, through assemblies or other weakly framed models does not allow for an ambitious RE curriculum that ensures that all pupils know more, remember more and do more.

In clearly articulating what the features of high-quality RE might be, this report challenges the RE community in its discussions about what ambitious RE looks like. This includes discussions about subject content, structure, progression, pedagogy, assessment and overall curriculum design. NATRE welcomes these challenges and seeks to engage teachers in taking an active leadership role in determining the various ways that schools can construct and teach high-quality RE.

NATRE is very pleased to see the emphasis given in this report to subject specific training for all those teaching RE. As has been noted, many teachers, especially in primary schools, lack confidence in teaching RE. Subject specific training, including that offered by subject associations play a vital role in teachers helping pupils to make greater progress in RE. The training and professional support offered by NATRE membership is an excellent way for schools to access high quality, subject specific CPD.

NATRE recognise that this report outlines the OFSTED view of quality in RE, through the lens of the education inspection framework. It will be good practice as schools annually review their subject provision, to look at their curriculum and wider aspects of teaching the subject in the light of the research discussed in this report.

NATRE note that there is much for school leaders to consider in this report and would encourage leaders of RE to share key aspects of this report with the school senior leadership team and governors.

NATRE are very aware of the pressures teachers are currently under and therefore encourage teachers to take time to consider the information in this report.

Ofsted clearly recognise that high quality RE is an essential part of every school’s curriculum that prepares pupils to engage in a diverse and complex multi-religious and multi-secular society. NATRE hopes that this report can lead to positive change and we will continue to work closely and positively with Ofsted and other partners to ensure that all pupils in all schools receive high quality RE.

Dr Richard Kueh, Her Majesty's Inspector, Subject Lead for Religious Education, discusses the substance of what pupils learn in the subject – the curriculum:

Dr Richard Kueh, also discusses some of the key factors that can influence the quality of religious education in schools: