For teachers – frequently asked questions

Why are schools are an appropriate forum to nurture spiritual development?

For pupils to develop into well-rounded adults with all they need to thrive as adults we believe that spiritual development is essential, alongside mental, physical, moral and cultural development. It is also what is expected of schools through the current national curriculum and school inspection frameworks.

“Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based, and which:

  • promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils; and
  • prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.”
National Curriculum in England: Framework Document, DfE, September 2013

“In describing progression in RE, the NCFRE illustrates how pupils will develop increasing understanding of wide areas of RE subject knowledge, and also how pupils can develop religious literacy, including the skills of:

  • investigating religions and worldviews through varied experiences, approaches and disciplines
  • reflecting on and expressing their own ideas and the ideas of others with increasing creativity and clarity;
  • becoming increasingly able to respond to religions and worldviews in an informed, rational and insightful way.”
Review of Religious Education in England, Religious Education Council of England and Wales, 2013

Why do schools need support teaching RE lessons that provoke critical enquiry and thoughtful reflection?

The school years are an essential time for young people to develop their own beliefs and framework for understanding the world. Learning about and from Christianity in an educational setting means that young people can be challenged and enriched by what they learn, and form their own conclusions about it. The evidence is that many schools need support to do this well. Our experience is that schools value the professionalism and high quality expertise that is provided to help schools to raise the quality of RE teaching and Collective Worship, and to extend opportunities for pupils to explore fundamental questions about human life, religion and belief.

“At its best, [RE] is intellectually challenging and personally enriching. It helps young people develop beliefs and values, and promotes the virtues of respect and empathy, which are important in our diverse society.” “Most of the GCSE teaching seen failed to secure the core aim of the examination specifications: that is, to enable pupils ‘to adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion’,” Religious Education: realising the potential, Ofsted, 2013

“About a half of primary teachers and trainee teachers lack confidence in teaching RE”

“About a half of subject leaders in primary schools lack the expertise or experience to undertake their role effectively” “Over 50% of teachers of RE in secondary schools have no qualification or appropriate expertise in the subject. This is unacceptable.” RE: the truth unmasked, APPG report on Religious Education, 2013

Why is it beneficial for pupils to meet practicing Christians?

There is evidence that when pupils meet people who are passionate about their faith it helps their understanding of religion as part of their RE studies.

“My experience of crossteach is that they provide an excellent support to the teaching of Christianity in schools. By bringing people of faith into the classroom students are able to engage with the issues of religious belief in a more interactive way than is usually possible in a non-denominational school.” RE subject leader, Kent secondary school

“Representatives of the main faith communities, who can speak about the faith traditions from the inside, appear to be an important resource for RE in both primary and secondary schools and are therefore valued highly by them” “pupils find direct encounter with other religions through outside visits and visitors to the school (and also on video clips) particularly helpful in their understanding” Materials used to Teach about World Religions in Schools in England, Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of Warwick, 2010

“Schools value the opportunity of bringing learning to life by giving pupils chances to meet and talk with people from the tradition they are studying, ask questions, experience an unfamiliar religious and cultural environment, and meet individuals who can respond to their thoughts and ideas. These visits contribute to pupils’ spiritual development as well as giving many opportunities for exciting cross-curricular learning. Individuals or small teams may also be invited into schools to speak, answer questions or take part in panel discussions” Religious Education in English Schools: non-statutory guidance, DfE, 2010

Why do you run extracurricular discussion groups?

We provide opportunities for pupils to be challenged and extended in their understanding and to provide a forum in which they can explore fundamental questions about human life, religion and belief. All extracurricular groups are open to pupils with a Christian faith background but also pupils from other faith backgrounds or none.

“Many pupils leave school with scant subject knowledge and understanding. Moreover, RE teaching often fails to challenge and extend pupils’ ability to explore fundamental questions about human life, religion and belief.” Religious Education: realising the potential, Ofsted, 2013