How has marriage changed in the last decade? Is there life after death? What does Jihad mean in Islam? Why is marriage becoming less popular? How can religion help the environment?
Religious education is a fascinating subject, which helps students to understand and reflect on different worldviews, including their own. The course is designed to allow students to explore this in a creative, interesting and academically rigorous way. The department encourages students to use a variety of approaches, including discussion, debate, presentations, creative projects, art, drama, speaking, listening and writing skills, along with the whole school focus on literacy.
By studying religious beliefs and investigating various cultures, students develop an understanding of the world in which we live. Thanks to its exploration of fascinating questions and concepts, religious education is a popular choice within Edgbarrow School.
Mr C Hinz - Head of Department
RE encourages students to understand a range of religious and secular worldviews, investigate spiritual and moral questions and identify their own beliefs. By studying religious beliefs and cultures students develop tolerance, respect and an understanding of what it means to be part of a diverse British society.
Key Stage 3
In Year 7, pupils investigate a variety of challenging themes helping them recognise how religious education has a role in the wider world. During the first term, students investigate the main facts of the major world religions. In the second term, students study religion and the environment, focusing particularly on how and why religious people think it is important to care for the world we live in. In the final term, students focus on an extended project researching famous religious believers who have shown courage and conviction, such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa.
In Year 8, students begin by studying different Rites of Passage through a range of different religions. During the second term, students complete an in-depth study of Christianity, investigating major Christian denominations, as well as learning about the life and teachings of Jesus. Year 8 concludes with a study of Islam, where students consider different beliefs and practices and are given the opportunity to reflect on their own beliefs and values.
The final year in Key Stage 3 equips students with the essential skills necessary to continue their religious education studies at GCSE. In the first term, students study Human Rights, including an in-depth study of the Holocaust. Students investigate what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust and are asked to reflect on whether or not the Holocaust disproves the existence of a god. Additionally, a visit to the Jewish Museum is organised where pupils are given the unique opportunity to meet a Holocaust survivor. In the remaining two terms, students study Moral Issues and Ethical Theories. Within these topics, students are encouraged to explore the ultimate and moral questions relating to euthanasia, abortion, and capital punishment, as well as reflecting on their own beliefs and values. Additionally, students study how to make moral decisions, with reference to theories such as Situation Ethics and Ethical Egoism.
Students will follow national guidelines throughout Key Stage 3 to support and prepare them for their Key Stage 4 courses. The school operates a banding system of 1-9 (9 being the highest band). Students will be given a target based on their Key Stage 2 scores and baseline assessments on arrival at Edgbarrow. The band they are awarded at the end of the Key Stage is intended to be indicative of the grade they may achieve at GCSE.
Key Stage 4
GCSE Religious Studies offers more than just learning about different cultures and beliefs. The course gives pupils the opportunity to analyse and try to understand more clearly the causes behind many major concerns and issues in our world today - for example, the causes of war and attitudes to war; reasons why some people become pacifists; why prejudice exists; what is being done about hunger in the developing world; why we should care about pollution; whether marriage is still worthwhile today and the various attitudes towards moral issues in society. Pupils can analyse both Christian and other religious and secular views on these issues. They can decide for themselves whether there is a right, wrong or best answer for any issue discussed. Looking at these issues gives pupils the opportunity to understand more fully the world they live in and develop the ability to form their own opinions, based on facts and informed discussion.
Course Content and Assessment
Religious Studies GCSE is divided into 3 different modules. There is no coursework module, which allows pupils to fully explore the course without the extra pressure of completing coursework. Therefore, as shown below, pupils will be fully assessed by 3 written examinations at the end of Year 11.
Religious Studies is beneficial to pupils who wish to have a firm humanities base to their qualifications, a wider understanding of what issues are important to people today and an opportunity to develop their skills of evaluation and analysis, which are of great importance for further education. Religious Studies is a popular subject with many employers and is highly recommended for any job which involves working with people; such as journalism, business, tourism, social work, law, teaching and nursing.
A visit to places of worship in the locality is linked to the course in year 11 and speakers are invited to lessons for some topics e.g. prison chaplains, amnesty international, and religious leaders within Christianity and Islam. Where possible trips abroad are offered; in the past, we have visited Israel, Rome and Morocco, Auschwitz in Poland and Florence.
A Level Religion, Philosophy and Ethics
This course will introduce students to an in-depth study of Philosophy, Ethics and Islam. Students will have the opportunity to examine questions relating to arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil and suffering, the possibility of life after death and a range of ethical theories, including Utilitarianism and Natural Law. The course will also entail a close examination of the practices and beliefs of Islam, with a focus on the role of women within society and the Muslim understanding of Jihad. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to develop an understanding and appreciation of religious thought and its contribution to individuals, communities and societies. Further, pupils will adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to religion today; enabling them to develop their own values, opinions and attitudes of religion and its place in the wider world.
This subject is available to all students with or without Religious Studies qualifications at GCSE level. However, all students will be expected to have achieved at least a grade 5 or above in English Language and any Humanities subject they may have studied.
Learning and teaching styles
A wide range of teaching and learning styles are used throughout the course ranging from active learning, role plays, debates, games, teaching others, as well as the traditional independent learning and essay writing. Most of these lessons are usually characterised by lots of opportunities for discussion and questioning.
The course is a linear A2 course, therefore students will be externally examined at the end of Year 13. The following three components will be covered across the two years:
This qualification is useful for access to a diversity of higher education courses at university and a wide range of careers, which focus on the ability to think clearly and rigorously. This includes those hoping to become business leaders, bankers or civil servants or any career associated with dealing with people. The skills developed in this course are generally regarded to be ‘softer’ skills, which are highly favoured by today’s employment market.