Frequently asked questions
about an education in religion and worldviews
A taught part of the school curriculum in England, based on an approach advocated in the Commission on RE (2018), through which pupils study:
- what religion is and worldviews are, and how they are studied;
- the impact of religion and worldviews on individuals, communities and societies;
- the diversity of religious and non-religious worldviews in society;
- the concepts, language and ways of knowing that help us organise and make sense of our knowledge and understanding of religion and worldviews;
- the human quest for meaning, so that they are prepared for life in a diverse world and have space to recognise, reflect on and take responsibility for the development of their own personal worldview
The terms ‘religion’ and worldviews’ are explained in further FAQs below.
Learn more about the Commission on RE (2018)
The Welsh Government has provided the following answer to this question: “From 2022 Religious education in Wales will be renamed ‘Religion, values and ethics’ to more accurately reflect the broad scope of the subject’s pluralistic requirement, and position within the Humanities Area of Learning and Experience.”
A national survey conducted by Savanta ComRes in summer 2021 found that 65% of UK adults felt an education in religion and worldviews has an impact on people’s ability to understand each other in wider society. Children and young people are growing up in a world where there is increasing awareness of the diversity of religious and non-religious worldviews; they will need to live and work well with people who hold different worldviews to their own. Read more
Learn more about pupils’ views
This is not a new approach for many teachers, however, they recognise that there may be unintended consequences of children only learning about religious and non-religious worldviews as separate blocks of knowledge., Moreover, some major traditions are commonly taught whilst others are not. The limited time available on the curriculum for the subject might lead to a narrow selection of content and accidentally perpetuate stereotypes. Opportunities to explore the diversity of the lived experience of people and to explore the impact of religion in the modern world might be missed. Read more
This means pupils study and encounter different ways in which the term ‘religion’ is used in human life. Pupils might ask questions like ‘What is a religion? Is a religion different to a faith? Is a religion just a name for a belief system? Do we all mean the same thing when we talk about religion?’ ‘What does it mean to live a religious life?’. Read more
A person’s way of understanding, experiencing, and responding to the world or ‘a philosophy of life’. Pupils will learn about ‘organised worldviews’ such as Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Humanist and Sikhi traditions. They will also explore ‘personal worldviews’ which may be influenced by a combination of different beliefs, values, behaviours, experiences, identities and commitments. Read more
Learn more about the concept of worldview in “Worldview:- A Multidisciplinary Report – Aston Research Explorer”.
Studying different people’s religious or non-religious worldviews is helpful in many different aspects of life, according 65% of the UK population (Savanta Comres 2021). For example, through an education in religion and worldviews pupils learn how to manage differences of opinion about controversial issues sensitively. They explore different worldviews and develop an understanding that it is important to respect the right of people to hold views that are different from their own. These skills can help relationships at home, in our communities and at work. Read more
The use of the religion and worldviews approach will not limit curriculum makers’ choices about how many religions and beliefs (or religious and non-religious worldviews) to include in their programme of study. Some schools, such as those with a religious character, may choose to focus on one or two specific religious traditions. Others may choose or be directed by a local agreed syllabus to include Christianity, the other principal religions represented in Great Britain alongside non-religious worldviews as set out in the legal framework. Read more
Will this approach mean that almost anything can be included in an ‘education in religion and worldviews’?
No. When the Commissioners on RE recommended this approach they also specified a statement of entitlement that clearly defines the scope of what pupils should learn. See page 10 of the executive summary
Yes and no!
The name for the subject set out in the law is Religious education (The Education Act 1996, School Standards and Framework Act 1998). So, in this legal sense Religious education and Religion and Worldviews are the same. There has been no change in the law in terms of a name for the subject.
Religion and Worldviews as a subject is primarily about a change from a world religions approach to a religion and worldviews approach. So, in this sense they are not the same.
A key point made in the Commission on RE (2018) is that everyone has a worldview.
A worldviews approach reflects the complex, diverse, changing and plural nature of worldviews. It recognises diversity within and between organised worldview traditions, as well as influences upon personal worldviews
By calling the subject Religion and Worldviews, it emphasises the move towards an approach which may be different to what is traditionally understood as religious education. Some schools may choose to keep the name ‘religious education’ despite moving to a worldviews approach in practice.
However, the new worldview approach draws heavily on the best elements of a world religions approach (e.g., careful representation of people’s beliefs and practices), but frames the subject with a new emphasis on understanding the importance of worldview in all human life.