An Introduction to the Agreed Syllabus

Hillingdon SACRE

Religious Education is part of the basic curriculum for all pupils except those withdrawn by their parents. The Education Act 1996 reinforces the distinctive place of religious education in the curriculum in that it should have equal standing with national curriculum subjects but that the attainment targets and programmes of study for religious education are determined locally rather than nationally. It is the responsibility of the local education authority (LEA) to ensure that these are in place for use by community schools and foundation schools that are not of a religious character. They are known as the Agreed Syllabus and are reviewed every five years. The Agreed Syllabus is prepared by an Agreed Syllabus Conference. In Hillingdon, the conference has been made up of councillors, representatives of different local faith communities, teachers and LEA officers.

There have been many changes in education since 1993 when the last Hillingdon Agreed Syllabus was published. Recently, religious education has been described by both the Rt. Hon. David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and OfSTED, as a ‘core subject’ and it is certainly the case that both the status and the quality of religious education have improved very significantly.

This process has been encouraged by the publication of model syllabuses for religious education by SCAA in 1994 and by the determination of OfSTED to improve the provision of religious education in schools. The continued commitment of the government to compulsory religious education for all pupils (except those withdrawn by their parents and those in nursery), the fact that there has been no relaxation of the requirements for religious education and the creation of GCSE short courses in religious education have all contributed. In addition the strong emphasis placed on schools to provide for the spiritual, social, moral and cultural development of pupils, to which religious education necessarily has much to contribute, has reinforced the importance of the subject. Finally, religious education contributes to citizenship and PSHE programmes because it teaches the religious and moral beliefs that underpin behaviour and life choices, because it provides a forum for teaching pupils to deal effectively with the issues that arise in life and because it considers elements of our society.

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