Religious Education allows pupils to enter a rich discourse about the religious and non-religious traditions that have shaped Britain and the world, according to a new report by Ofsted.
It says RE enables pupils to take their place within a diverse multi-religious and multi-secular society and is intellectually challenging and personally enriching.
Ofsted looked at factors that can affect the quality of education in RE, curriculum progression and it outlines the legal requirement for all state-funded schools, including free schools and academies, to provide RE as part of their curriculum.
Welcoming the report, Professor Trevor Cooling, chair of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, said it sends a "powerful message to all those with an interest in the status of RE. The review spells out the essential role that RE plays in every young person's academic and personal development and emphasises the value that an education in religious and non-religious worldviews provides in later life."
He told Premier that many people had an outdated view of RE and how it is taught, believing it focuses mainly on traditional Scripture:
"They think that it is Sunday School funded by the state and it isn't. It's actually equipping young people for the exciting and challenging world that they are going to be working and living in."
Katie Freeman, chair of the National Association of Teachers of RE, also welcomed the report:
"The need for high quality teaching in all schools for all pupils, both from an academic perspective and for each pupil's personal development, is abundantly clear in the Ofsted report. It sends out a strong reminder to all school leaders of the requirement to teach the subject at all key stages, including sixth form, and to consider the professional development and subject knowledge needed for teachers to deliver a high quality RE curriculum."