Programmes of Study: Ages 3–18

Using the age-related programmes of study

The programmes of study are the basis of the agreed syllabus and of a school’s long term planning for RE. To see the Big Ideas programme of study for Ages 3-18 in full, see below:

Agreed syllabus conferences and teachers often use dedicated key stage specialists to write each section of a syllabus or scheme of learning. It is important that such groups have a good understanding of what pupils have been learning in both the previous and the following key stages.

To see programmes of study for individual key stages, click on one of the links below:


    These Programmes of Study for RE follow the format of those for the History national curriculum (England) and take their content from two publications:

    1. Wintersgill, B. (Ed) (BIRE2017). Big Ideas for Religious Education. University of Exeter [BIRE2017].
    2. Wintersgill, B; Cush, D; Francis, D. (BIIP2019). Putting Big Ideas into Practice in Religious Education, REonline [BIIP2022].


    A high quality education in Religion and Worldviews should inspire in pupils a curiosity about, and a fascination with, the diversity of religious and non-religious worldviews and the questions of meaning and value they raise.

    Teaching should equip pupils with knowledge of the teachings, practices and lifestyles expressed in a variety of ways within different worldviews, together with a deep understanding of how they are woven into, and influenced by, all dimensions of human experience. As pupils progress, their growing understanding of their own and others’ beliefs, ideas, practices, values and identities should help prepare them for the intellectual, spiritual and personal challenges of living in a world with diverse religions and beliefs.

    The design of the curriculum should ensure that students are introduced to some of the main approaches to the study of religions / worldviews and provided with coherent, progressive and systematic opportunities to address and revisit the Big Ideas of the subject.

    [Source: BIRE2017, p.4 Principles of RE]


    This curriculum for religion and worldviews aims to ensure that all pupils:

    • know and understand that religions / worldviews are highly diverse and change in response to new situations and challenges
    • know and understand that there are many ways to interpret the verbal and non-verbal forms of communication used in different religions / worldviews
    • know and understand that there are many kinds of guidance on how to live a good life, and that these can be interpreted and applied in different ways
    • know and understand that many people have deeply felt, meaningful or transformative experiences, which impact upon their religions / worldviews
    • know and understand that religions / worldviews influence and are influenced by society, culture and politics
    • know and understand that religions / worldviews often attempt to provide comprehensive accounts of the nature of the universe and of humanity
    • critically engage with key concepts including ‘religion’, ‘secularity’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘worldview’
    • develop the ability to carry out enquiries into religions / worldviews using a variety of methods.

    [See: BIIP2022, pp.2-3]


    By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

      To see programmes of study for individual key stages, click on one of the buttons below.