Religious education

Religious education (RE) is a part of the basic curriculum in school. It is equal, in status, to the core and foundation subjects of the national curriculum whilst remaining outside of the national curriculum. All pupils must receive RE lessons in all local authority schools. Teaching and learning in RE must be in the main about Christianity whilst taking account of the other principal religions and beliefs represented in Great Britain today.

The content of RE in school is determined by a local Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE). This body is empowered to produce, for the local authority’s schools, an agreed syllabus for RE. This syllabus is written by an agreed syllabus conference and is reviewed every five years.

In Southampton, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, the agreed syllabus is called Living Difference and has recently been revised (Living Difference IV) and agreed by SACRE. The syllabus must be used by all Portsmouth’s maintained schools (other than those that are part of the Catholic Diocese). Academies may choose to adopt this or any other syllabus however the majority of academies in the city will be using Living Difference IV. This agreed syllabus encourages children and young people to reflect on their own experiences and those of others, to engage intellectually with material that is new and to discern with others what is valuable with regard to living a religious life or one informed by a non-religious or other perspective.

Primary RE network

Termly primary RE network meetings are led by Justine Ball, Hampshire RE Inspector/Advisor. These will be held virtually from 4pm to 5pm during the 2023/24 academic year on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 4 October 2023
  • Wednesday 24 January 2024
  • Wednesday 8 May 2024

These sessions are designed to enable primary RE subject leaders to explore, share and develop good practice in RE in their schools. The sessions will focus on helping other staff to understand the cycle of enquiry, know the range of concepts in the locally agreed Living Difference IV syllabus, create and amend planning for RE and help understand assessment issues across the school.

The meetings are funded by Portsmouth School Improvement Service and free for colleagues from LA maintained schools and academies to attend. All are welcome.

Please email [email protected] to sign up and receive the Microsoft Teams link.

Secondary RE network

A secondary RE network meeting takes place termly, bringing together secondary RE leads in Portsmouth as well as in the south east area of Hampshire.

RE CPD, resources and information

A useful Places of Worship Directory has been compiled by the Portsmouth SACRE to support schools with information on local places of worship that are keen to welcome visits from Portsmouth schools. There are details of who to contact, what is available and acceptable, plus links to the RE agreed syllabus, Living Difference IV.

Further CPD, resources and information can be accessed through the Hampshire HIAS Religious Education Moodle.


What is a SACRE?

The acronym SACRE stands for Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.

Why is there a SACRE?

Every local authority (LA) has to have a SACRE by law. In 1944, local education authorities (LEAs) were given the chance to set up a SACRE, if they so wished. In 1988, all local authorities were required to have a SACRE. It is now the Children’s Services directorate of the LA that is responsible for making sure there is a SACRE.

What does a SACRE do?

There is no other group anywhere else like the SACRE; it is unique. The law says that RE must be taught in all schools and a SACRE’s role is to advise its local authority on what needs to be done to improve religious education (RE) and collective worship for schools in its area.

Who attends the SACRE meeting?

A SACRE is set up to represent a balance of all the interests of the local community. You are likely to find elected councillors, representatives of faith communities, and members of the education community, including teachers and head teachers, at a SACRE meeting. There may also be people representing teacher training in RE.

The composition of a SACRE

There are four groups or committees, as below:

  1. The Christian denominations and other religious and their denominations, reflecting the principal religious traditions of the area
  2. The Church of England
  3. Teacher and head teacher associations
  4. The local authority

Portsmouth SACRE meets once a term.

Portsmouth SACRE annual report

The Portsmouth SACRE annual report 2022/23 is available here.