Findings from the SACRE School Survey 2023


1.   The purpose of the school survey is support York SACRE in its statutory responsibility to monitor provision for Religious Education in the city. It forms one of the sources of information that SACRE can use to make recommendations to City of York Council about the strengths and areas for development of that provision, how good practice might be shared and what support might be offered.


2.   The survey ran during the autumn term of 2023 and closed on 10th November 2023. Responses were received from 11 primary schools and 3 secondary schools. This response rate was in line with previous years.


3.   The survey focused on the following areas:


·        Strengths and areas for development

·        Quality and standards

·        Continuing Professional Development

·        Timetabling of R.E.

·        The use of the Agreed Syllabus


4.   This report provides the members of SACRE with a summary of the information gained from the survey. SACRE members are asked to consider the outcomes and to identify any areas that can be used to inform the SACRE Development Plan.

Summary of findings from the 2023 School Survey

5.   This report will provide a summary of the findings from the primary and secondary school responses and will begin with responses from primary schools.




Primary School Responses

1)   Strengths

Staff understand the importance of RE.

Good planning in place

Cross school celebrations of RE

Skilled and enthusiastic staff

Celebrating diversity in school through special events

Hope Sentamu Learning Trust have a Trust RE development group

Termly Topic Launch days where members of different faiths are invited in to deliver first hand, quality experiences.

Whole Class RE Books showcasing learning, which move with the children as they progress through school.


2)   Areas for Development

Re-establishing school visits and visits to school from faith representatives.

Having access to a bank of religious artefacts that can be loaned to schools

Developing planning further through key questions etc

Raising the profile of RE through displays

Developing links with local faith groups

Being able to buy resources within a limited budget

Assessment in RE

To continue to ensure that children who are PP/SEND make rapid progress by utilising a range of teaching approaches (i.e. drama, music, dance, debate) to ensure that pupils progress, regardless of their wider needs/obstacles to their learning.

To ensure that as staff approach the second stand of split units for the first time, they utilise the understanding of the previous academic year whilst also catering to those children who are starting their learning on a unit for the first time.

Improving long-term recall of key aspects of different religions and improve the teaching of substantive versus disciplinary knowledge.


3)   Examples of best practice to share

Sharing key religious festivals with all staff through a bank of videos

Class RE big books, the books are completed as a class from Reception and progress each school year. They are also used to support transition.

Knowledge organisers for all the units taught

Topic Launch/Immersion Days each term, where parents are invited to share in their child’s learning.


4)   Quality and standards

Book scrutiny, lessons observations, learning walks, pupil voice

5)   Continuing professional development

Links with teachers in the cluster (South York)

More externally provided CPD would be welcomed.

CPD for new subject leaders

Useful to have an RE Hub in York

Hope Sentamu Learning Trust have trust RE development days

York Primary RE cluster

SIAMS briefing delivered by Olivia Seymour.

6)   Timetabling of RE

Timetabled as a separate subject and delivered between 30 minutes to 1 hour a week.

7)   Use of Agreed Syllabus

Hope Sentamu Trust use RE Today Syllabus B




Secondary School Responses


1)   Strengths

Subject specialist teachers.

Good GCSE and A level results

Positive pupil voice shows pupils enjoy the subject

Depth and breadth of the curriculum.

2)   Areas for Development

Recommendations for/links with inspiring external speakers – particularly for KS5 students, from a range of faiths and philosophical stances.  

A system where all the local teachers of RE can resource dump and share. Like SOW/Ppt’s etc.

Exam results, recruitment for KS5

Updating resources and responding to issues as they arise

Assessment in KS3



3)   Examples of best practice

Curriculum planning 

How the agreed syllabus has been implemented

4)   Quality and standards

Lesson observations and regular drop-ins/learning walks

Work Scrutiny 

Student Voice 


Exam Results 


Regular meetings with line manager,


Subject leader meetings

5)   Continuing Professional Development

CPD provided by exam boards

Regular curriculum CPD within trust about mapping out the curriculum


Local RE group proving very difficult to set up. Difficulties in communication with other colleagues


6)   Timetabling of RE

School A

KS3 – 1 hour per week 

Year 10 – 1 hour per week Core RPE plus 2 GCSE classes 

Year 11 – 1 GCSE class plus 12+ hours of core RPE provided during PHSE time.  

KS5 – A-level plus some whole school provision (part of departmental targets this year) 

School B (academy)

Pupils have 1 hour a week on RE.

School C (LA maintained)


KS3 – 2 hrs per fortnight

KS4 – 2 hrs per fortnight (Y11 have assemblies and SMSC RS related tasks

KS5 – A level = 9hrs – rest of KS5 have assemblies and SMSC related tasks


7)   Use of Agreed Syllabus

School A (LA maintained)

Our provision Y7-10 core follows a curriculum designed by us which embraces Local Agreed Syllabus and recommendations from Ofsted. 


School B (Academy)

RE Today Syllabus B

School C (LA maintained)

 Using Agreed Syllabus



Points for consideration

6.   Responses to the survey were detailed and schools that did respond provided a range of supporting materials including curriculum plans. However, rate of response is still low. For 2024 should SACRE form a working party to refresh the survey and develop a different format e.g. a google form or other smart survey format.

7.   The information provided by the survey is helpful in providing an overview of Religious Education. There is clearly good practice in York schools, but mechanisms to share this more consistently need to be developed. The maintained schools heads group has recently started subject network meetings and the feedback from these has been very positive.

8.   In the survey sample there were a number of new subject leaders, all commented that they would find it valuable to have support for new subject leaders

9.   There were also comments about access to resource banks and building links with visitors from different faith communities.






Maxine Squire

Local Authority Adviser to SACRE

March 2024