Lewisham Council - Religious education

Religious education

​Information on religious education in our schools and how we decide what gets taught.

We are legally required to teach religious education in our schools, although it is not part of the national curriculum. This means we decide locally what should be taught in religious education.

We work with local faith and belief communities to decide what should be taught in religious education at our schools. We review our syllabus every five years.

We have a standing advisory council on religious education (SACRE), which advises us on issues related to religious education. This is a statutory partnership group made up of representatives from local faith and belief communities, teachers, schools and our elected members.

Why children have religious education

Religious education:

  • encourages pupils to learn about different religions, beliefs, values and traditions while exploring their own beliefs
  • challenges pupils to consider and discuss issues of truth, belief, faith, ethics and questions of meaning
  • encourages pupils to develop their sense of identity and belonging
  • helps them to flourish individually, within their communities, and as citizens
  • has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and lifelong learning
  • helps pupils develop respect for, and sensitivity to, others (in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own)
  • helps combat prejudice.

Legal requirement to provide religious education

  • The legal requirements governing religious education were set out in the Education Reform Act of 1988 and confirmed by the Education Acts of 1996 and 1998.
  • Religious education must be provided for all registered pupils in maintained schools, including those in reception classes and sixth forms.
  • In community and voluntary controlled schools, religious education must be provided in accordance with our local agreed syllabus.
  • In voluntary-aided schools, religious education must be provided in accordance with the trust deed of the school and the wishes of the governing body.

Right to withdraw from religious education

Parents have the right to withdraw their children from religious education and this right should be identified in the school prospectus or website.

Standing advisory council on religious education (SACRE)

What the SACRE does

  • The standing advisory council on religious education (SACRE) advises us on the provision of religious education and collective worship.
  • We develop ways of supporting schools in delivering the religious education syllabus. We develop and maintain links with local and national faith communities.
  • SACRE also produces advice to support schools at times of local, national or international difficulty.

SACRE membership

A SACRE is made up of four groups to reflect different local faith communities and a wide range of interests and talents.

These groups are:

  • Group A: Christian denominations (other than the Church of England) and representatives from a wide range of other faiths and beliefs representative of the borough's communities.
  • Group B: the Church of England.
  • Group C: teachers' professional associations.
  • Group D: elected members from Lewisham Council, representatives of our Executive Director for Children and Young People and governors of Lewisham schools.

Members of these groups are nominated by their respective organisations.

SACRE meetings

  • Lewisham SACRE meets approximately four–five times a year.
  • The meetings are often held in a local place of worship in order to enhance members’ knowledge and understanding of faiths other than their own.
  • At the meetings, members discuss issues relating to religious education in Lewisham schools and other educational establishments and monitor the delivery of that education.
  • We welcome contact and visits from representatives of interested organisations or individuals to our meetings.

Contact SACRE

You can contact SACRE by emailing the RE adviser Denise Chaplin at denise.chaplin@lewisham.gov.uk.

You can also write to Denise or the SACRE, c/o School Improvement Team, Third floor Laurence House, Catford SE6 4RU.


Content Promos

Summer holiday fun


Are you caring for someone else's child?

Private Fostering image

Free 15 hours per week childcare for two-year-olds