Our lives and experiences here in the UK are increasingly secular in nature. But there is no denying the influence that religion has had – and continues to have – on our culture, history and society. We aim firstly to give our students a deeper understanding of the beliefs, teachings and practices from a variety of faiths, so that they can help in the making of a more integrated and tolerant society. Secondly in considering some of life’s deepest questions, we aim to enable them to reflect more deeply on what it is to be human.
The Year 7s are going to be focusing on two religions, Christianity and Islam. The Year 8s are concentrating on Hinduism and Buddhism. Each religion starts with a focus on beliefs, before moving on to consider the source of these beliefs. Further work takes place on belonging and practice before we move on finally to beliefs in action. Towards the end of each year there are ethical and thematic studies. In Year 7 this means a focus on creation, and on stewardship, the environment and animal rights. Year 8s study happiness and wealth, and rites of passage. In contrast the Year 9s will study ethical and thematic issues throughout. These themes are drawn directly from GCSE study and include relationships and families; human rights and social justice; religion and life; crime and punishment; peace and conflict and the existence of God and revelation.
Our choice of GCSE is AQA Religious Studies A 8062. It has two final written exams. The first paper is on Beliefs and Teachings and on Practices and requires study of two religions. We study Christianity and Islam. The second paper is on the Ethical issues outlined above. Here our focus is more wide-ranging with study of a variety of religions and a focus on non-religious views as well. Our consideration of aspects of GCSE work earlier at KS3 – particularly in Year 7 with the focus on Islam and Christianity – means that those students who wish to move on to study RE at GCSE are in a better position to do so.