Foundation Stage RE

The provision of religious education is statutory for children in reception classes. Religious education is not compulsory for nursery children but schools may provide suitable activities and practitioners may choose to make use of the material from the diocesan syllabus.

The foundation stage curriculum is organised into six areas of learning:


  • personal, social and emotional development;
  • communication, language and literacy;
  • mathematical development;
  • knowledge and understanding of the world;
  • physical development;
  • creative development.

RE can make some contribution to all these areas, but has particularly strong links with 'personal, social and emotional development' and 'knowledge and understanding of the world'. It should also contribute significantly to pupils’ creative development and to communication, language and literacy.

  • The role of RE at the foundation stage is to affirm, encourage and challenge children on their spiritual journey.
  • RE should provide children with rich and stimulating experiences whatever the home religious or philosophical background, as well as helping them to develop their ability to reflect and respond.
  • Progress at this stage is cumulative rather than sequential; it should include some sense of things spiritual and their worth.

The basic principle is to start with the children and their families represented in the group or setting.

Religious Education teaching will, therefore:

  • draw on and contribute to children's experience of religion, especially in relation to events, people and places in their immediate environment.


Celebrating festivals


Most children will have celebrated birthdays, festivals and family events, and many will have experience of other special times that include family gatherings, food, clothes, cards, presents, stories, music or other features. There is no suggestion that all festivals should be recognised, nor that all celebrations are religious, but practitioners will need to plan what is most appropriate for the children concerned. All children need to feel that their experiences are valued and have opportunities to participate. 

  • recognise and take seriously children's questions and ideas about profound, puzzling and difficult areas of life.

Young children do not demonstrate progress by asking increasingly complex questions but they do need to feel absolutely comfortable about asking.

This requires practitioners to:

  • make it clear that questioning is valued;
  • give children opportunities to suggest their own answers;
  • acknowledge difficult questions;
  • make it clear that lots of questions do not have definite answers, and prepare children for uncertainty;
  • recognise, value and encourage children's capacity to wonder at and enjoy aspects of their experience.

Creative and physical development are particularly important here, as is the opportunity to link in the science aspect of ‘knowledge and understanding of the world’.

Practitioners should:

  • make time for children to enjoy, and where appropriate, wonder at what they are doing;
  • resist the temptation to squeeze it out of the curriculum in favour of the more measurable;
  • respond to pupils’ interest and curiosity; 
  • encourage them to talk about their responses.
  • contribute to children's development of a positive self-image as individuals and as members of communities to which they belong.

We need to affirm children's religious and cultural identities, working with parents to promote children's confidence and self-esteem, and include the community and local environment as a source of learning.

Useful resources for the Foundation Stage

Mothering Sunday
The Church 
Christian living

Other world faiths