This chapter explores the aims and purpose of religious education (RE) both philosophically through thinking about a number of contested views about RE, and historically as expressed in agreed syllabuses and more recently in a variety of national documents. It reflects upon a variety of contrasting understandings of the aims, nature and purposes of RE. The chapter also explores how the subject has developed over about one hundred years of historical development. It presents a brief, selected historical overview of the evolution of RE in state-maintained schools in England. RE contributes dynamically to children and young people's education in schools by provoking challenging questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, ultimate reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. Teaching should equip pupils with systematic knowledge and understanding of a range of religions and worldviews, enabling them to develop their ideas, values and identities.