In the Religious Studies Department, we aim to provide high quality education for all our students. The scheme of work is planned so that students engage with some of the best that has been taught and done by spiritual teachers of all ages and cultures. In the process they learn from religion as well as about it. All personal faith positions are respected and a tolerant attitude towards people of different faith positions or none is expected both in and out of the classroom.
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In Years 7-9, we use a thematic approach to study a variety of topics from the six major world religions. Students have the opportunity to research, analyse, discuss, debate and reflect on issues and evaluate different responses to them. They are also encouraged to compare and contrast beliefs and practices, develop thinking skills and learn independently and co-operate with others.
Religious Studies enhances the multicultural nature of the school. Students are happy to share the way they practise their faith and this adds a special dimension to lessons. We are continually encouraged by the amazing pieces of work produced by our students and, as teachers, we have been impressed by the creative approach and empathy shown by our students in this subject.
To extend their learning, we give students an exciting range of homework tasks. For example, Year 7 students design an icon for a competition once they have visited the Holocaust centre in Newark and have heard a Holocaust survivor speak, while Year 8 students design a Hajj travel brochure and Year 9 students produce a ‘personal response’ to the Holocaust. At our open mornings, parents have been deeply moved by the maturity of these responses made through art, poetry, literature and music.
Students enjoy visits to places of worship and are always eager to hear about the nature of worship from a practising member of the faith. In Year 8 we visit an Orthodox Synagogue and an Anglican Church in Leeds. In Year 9 our visit to the Holocaust Centre near Newark is one that students never forget. They all appreciate the opportunity to hear a talk from a Holocaust survivor.
Religious Studies is a very successful subject at GCSE. Students currently follow the AQA Specimen B Course and study two modules – Religion and Life Issues and Religion and Morality. Year 10 girls following the new GCSE course look at Christianity and Judaism, and study worship, morality and ethics within the two faiths.
During the course, pupils study twelve ethical and moral issues and look at the response of society and religion. As part of the course, Year 10 pupils have an ethics conference with visiting speakers. Year 11 students have opportunities after school to study ethical films like Malala and Suffragette.
An indication of the enjoyment of this subject by many students is the large number of GCSE students who continue to A-level. The course we follow is the OCR course ‘Philosophy of Religion and Ethics’. In Philosophy of Religion, pupils look at topics including the problem of evil, the qualities of God and the debate between science and religion. In the ethics side of the course the ethical issues of euthanasia, abortion, genetic engineering and war are studied in relation to ethical theories. The course is clearly enjoyed by students and this is shown in some of their own quotations below.
We attend an Ethics and Philosophy Masterclass in Manchester and watch ethical films at the Showroom Cinema.