Religious Education

Living in an ever increasingly diverse world and community, at John Smeaton Academy, we recognise the importance of developing our student’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of world religions.

The Religious Education curriculum is for all students and every pupil has a legal entitlement to receive religious education. It is an essential part of an inclusive and broad curriculum offer which allows students to develop not only specific knowledge about a range of religions but also the characteristics of what makes a well-rounded young person who is prepared for life in modern Britain and their responsibilities as a global citizen.

One of the key roles of Religious Education in schools is to support community cohesion and the development of SMSC and Fundamental British Values. We do this through:

  • Celebrating a variety of local, national and international festivals;
  • Understanding how different people celebrate both religious and non-religious festivals;
  • Charity work;
  • Remembrance Day;
  • Interfaith Week and including diversity of religious belief and faiths;
  • National and international awareness days/ weeks.

Locally Agreed Syllabus:

The starting point for our curriculum in the locally agreed Leeds SACRE syllabus which is statutory for all maintained schools within Leeds, Kirklees and Calderdale. Although we are an academy and are not required to follow the locally agreed syllabus we do believe that by working in strong partnership with all members of the SACRE and the West Yorkshire RE Hub that we are able to deliver a rich and diverse curriculum offer to our students which builds upon the learning experiences they will have enjoyed as part of Key Stage 1 and 2.

Curriculum Summary:

The Religious Studies curriculum explores the six main world religions and non-religious belief systems through the study of beliefs, teachings and practices. Students work chronologically through the Abrahamic faiths before exploring Eastern traditions. Over Key Stage 3, students receive 1 hour per week of Religious Education known as Ethics, Philosophy and Religion (EPR).

By learning about the ways in which these beliefs and practices vary amongst communities and impact the lives of millions of people, students develop a broad understanding of how religion permeates life around the world, developing in them respect and tolerance for beliefs different to their own. Through learning about prominent historical figures and events as well as current affairs, students are exposed to the impact of religion in the modern world. Students develop skills in critical thinking and analysis through both discussion and extended writing, equipping them with a strong foundation of knowledge and skills required for further study, including GCSE.

As students move through the academy the curriculum seeks to deepen students’ understanding of two religions: Christianity and Islam. Students explore the key beliefs, teachings and practices of both religions, before applying these beliefs to ethical issues faced in the modern world. Students consider the impact of religious beliefs on religious people both in the UK and around the world through analysis of scripture and influential figures. Students learn to express their own beliefs in a coherent and convincing way, whilst also learning how to embrace difference in belief. At Key Stage 4, students who opt to study GCSE Religious Studies receive 3 hours of teaching per week. For students who do not study Religious Studies at GSCE they continue to receive their entitlement to the curriculum in line with the locally agreed syllabus through our Personal Development programme and Be Smart days.

The curriculum explores various SMSC and RSHE topics, providing students with space to ask questions about important issues in a safe and stimulating environment, whilst also developing an understanding of various views held in Great British society as a whole, preparing them to become thoughtful and valued members of society.

Right to Withdraw:

In the UK, parents have the right to withdraw their children from Religious Education on the grounds that they wish to make their own provision. This alternative will be the parents’ responsibility. Parents also have the right to withdraw their child from part of RE and can do so without giving any explanation.

We believe, however, that it would be useful for parents to notify the Principal in the first instance for a brief discussion in order to ensure that any requests to withdraw can be met promptly.


Should you wish to discuss the Religious Education curriculum further, please do not hesitate to contact Maura Kitson Faculty leader of Humanities, via [email protected].