Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (RS)
Religion, Philosophy and Ethics Curriculum Intent
Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (RPE) at Blenheim gives our students across the Key Stages a unique opportunity to reflect on and learn from the faiths and beliefs of those around them. World and local events reported through the media engage the curiosity of our students, and cause them to question how such events can happen: our school community is diverse, and our curriculum aims to support students with understanding the many complex and varied reasons for the diversity not just in the school and local community, but also nationally. Our curriculum has much to offer students as they prepare for life in a rapidly changing world, where critical thinking and discernment are ever more important and valuable.
We want RPE to enable students to:
- Demonstrate an appreciation of the nature of religion and belief, and the contribution this makes for an individual’s search for meaning in life, whilst also acknowledging and valuing that spiritual insights and values may come from a non-religious perspective.
- Develop knowledge and understanding of Christianity, and of the other five major world religions represented in Great Britain, both through their history and contemporary expressions and practices.
- Develop an interest in and passion for the study of religion and beliefs, and to enhance their own spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
- Develop the ability to make reasoned, informed and creative responses to religious, philosophical and moral issues.
- Recognise the influence of beliefs, values, ideas and traditions on communities throughout the world.
Throughout KS3, Religion, Philosophy & Ethics (RPE) contributes dynamically to students’ education by provoking challenging questions about meaning and purpose in life, beliefs about God, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. Throughout KS3, students learn about and from Christianity in addition to the other five major world religions. They also consider ethical and philosophical questions, in addition to secular systems of morality such as Humanism. Students are given opportunities throughout the course to express and justify their own personal beliefs in a safe, supported and structured environment. They learn to weigh up the value of wisdom from different sources, to develop and express their insights in response, and to agree or disagree respectfully. Our KS3 curriculum follows The Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in Surrey Schools (2017-2022), devised by the Surrey SACRE.
At KS4 RPE is offered as an option at GCSE with students following the EDUQAS Religious Studies Route A 1-9 paper. This programme of study focuses on both Christian and Muslim beliefs and practices, as well as Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Studies in the modern world, exploring topics such as relationships, life and death, good and evil and human rights. The subject lends itself to discussion and debate around controversial topics, and allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the wider context of society, and the place of religion within this. Those students who do not opt to take RPE as a GCSE will explore ethical themes through Life skills and Wellbeing lessons, focusing on diversity and discrimination.
The Religious Studies department at Blenheim High School prides itself on being an open, innovative and inspiring area in which all student’s opinions and beliefs are appreciated, respected and shared. The aim for the department is simple – to encourage students to develop opinions, to be able to work with and appreciate others whose opinions may differ and to respect the variety of faith and belief that our community offers.
All Religious Studies staff are passionate and well educated about their subject to encourage the best possible levels of success. A variety of different learning styles are encouraged to ensure that at the forefront of each lesson, all students have the opportunity to succeed. Students are given opportunities to visit places of worship, to speak with those of belief and to investigate relevant and timely issues within our own society.
A number of school visits are arranged throughout the course of the year. Details of trips which have taken place this year or are planned in the future can be viewed in the School Visits, Enrichment area of the website.
- Specialist teaching classrooms
- A wide range of specialist religious artefacts
- DVDs and interactive materials to exemplify the topics being studied.
- An extensive subject-specific library of resources
- http://www.theredirectory.org.uk/ Very useful website regarding all Religious Studies information in education
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/rs/Useful for GCSE students and general awareness
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/ BBC website on all relevant issues affecting religion today
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/religionMore useful, relevant information
KS3 Religious Studies
Years 7 and 8
In KS3, all students will study the six main world religions in agreement with the Surrey SACRE. Students will have the opportunity to consolidate and develop knowledge already gained in KS2 on the following – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Furthermore, students will also be introduced to key concepts in philosophy and ethics, the debate between religion and science and be introduced to key elements of Humanism.
As students start their learning journey at Blenheim they will be introduced to their Religious Studies lessons by considering the nature of religion. Students will then investigate the religion of Islam and explore in great depth what it means to be a Muslim in today’s society. Students will look at the concept of pilgrimage and the journey to Mecca, as well as the significance of fasting as part of Ramadan. Students will then explore the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as well as the significance of Christianity within Britain today. They will then consider key beliefs and practices in Hinduism, including considering whether actions influence our future, before moving on to investigate how equality is expressed in Sikhism. Finally, students will explore how the home and tradition play a central role within Judaism.
To start Year 8, students will investigate Buddhism and will consider the life and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama and will reflect on how Buddhists apply the Buddha’s teaching about suffering. Students will then turn their attention to key issues raised by the disciplines of philosophy and ethics, and will be introduced to key thinkers and questions in the philosophy of religion, as well as looking at different ethical theories and how these can be applied to a range of issues. Students will also discuss and evaluate the thorny question of whether faith is compatible with science. Students will then look at the importance of the home and tradition in Judaism, before looking at the relevance of the Bible in the modern world. Finally, students will explore the role of Humanism and reflect on how Humanists answer the ‘Big Questions’.
As students prepare to study their Religious Studies GCSE in the autumn term, students will embark on a taster of the role of Philosophy and Ethics and will investigate ancient scholars and theories as well as applying ethical theory to modern moral dilemmas. They will also look at the links between the Abrahamic religions, to prepare them for the focus on Christianity and Islam required by the GCSE. Once students commence their GCSE proper in January, they will look at religious, philosophical and ethical studies in the modern world, with a focus on issues of relationships Islam.
What skills students develop
Students will develop a host of key skills including knowledge and understanding, comprehension and literacy skills, independent learning, collaboration, application, analysis, debate, synthesis and evaluation.
How students are assessed
Students are assessed in a number of ways such as via formative assessment (Key Assessment) during a unit of work – this is based on GCSE style questioning. Students will also complete Tri-Weekly Assessments. Through homework tasks (see Homework) or through peer assessment, students will have the opportunity to be reflective and to use DIRT to improve and develop their work.
Homework will be set in line with the school’s Homework policy for each year group – it may be a research task, improving or reflecting on work, revising for an assessment, or an opportunity to work independently.
How parents can help
Parents can help by actively engaging with their son/daughter regarding the world around them, keeping abreast about current and recent news stories and most importantly, being open and honest with them. Please encourage them to question and discuss relevant topics and take an active interest in the people and the world around them.
The Religious Studies Department offers a variety of trips including to The Wintershall Estate to see the life of Christ acted out – a spectacle not to be missed - and trips to suit the courses studied including to places of worship such as the Buddhapadipa temple in Wimbledon.
KS4 Religious Studies - Religion, Philosophy & Ethics (RPE) GCSE
Board and Exam Details
WJEC Eduqas GCSE (9-1) in Religious Studies (Route A)
- Component 1: Religious, Philosophical & Ethical studies in the Modern World
- Component 2: Study of Christianity
- Component 3: Study of Islam
Perhaps more important than ever in a turbulent society, this course seeks to look at both the belief, interpretation and practice of Christianity & Islam. Students will follow the WJEC Eduqas Route ‘A’ syllabus. The course focuses on the teaching of core Christian and Muslim values, how each faith’s beliefs affect day to day life and how these traditional ideas fit in with a modern interpretation of our society.
More emphasis will be placed on philosophical questions of God’s existence, role and indeed, place in our lives. The ethics of such controversial topics such as abortion, euthanasia, terrorism & sexual identity will be investigated fully with an opportunity for students to not only learn from specialist staff, but to experience perspectives from guest speakers, visitors and trips outside the classroom.
- Theme 1 – Issues of Relationships (communities, sexual relationships, equality)
- Theme 2 – Issues of Life & Death (the world, value of human life, abortion, euthanasia)
- Theme 3 – Issues of Good & Evil (crime & punishment, forgiveness, evil & suffering)
- Theme 4 – Issues of Human Rights (social justice, prejudice, discrimination, wealth & poverty)
- Islam (Beliefs and Teachings) - The nature of Allah, angels, worship, different denominations
- Islam (Practices) - The Five Pillars, Jihad, Festivals
- Christianity (Beliefs and Teachings) - The nature of God, The Trinity, Jesus, the afterlife
- Christianity (Practices) - Sacraments, the Eucharist, pilgrimage, the worldwide Church
What skills students develop
- Analytical skills
- Communication skills
- Technological skills
- Interpersonal skills through debate and discussion
- Literacy and numeracy
- Problem solving skills
- Independent learning
How students are assessed
Students are assessed through external linear assessment.
The examinations are in the summer term of Year 11.
- Religion, Philosophy & Ethics: 2 hours (50%)
- Christianity: 1 hour (25%)
- Islam: 1 hour (25%)
Students will receive homework at least once a week and are expected to spend around an hour completing it. This can take the form of further research, completing classwork notes, or GCSE exam practise questions which are marked according to exam board marking criteria.
How parents can help
Ask questions about what your child has learnt in RPE; what topics they are studying; interesting facts they have learnt; and how the world is affected by people. Look out for religious and ethical documentaries on TV. Encourage your child to watch the news and to read a broadsheet newspaper; this will further develop their understanding of global issues relating to both religion and ethics.
RPE revision sessions & regular ‘drop-in’ sessions will be timetabled via the Extended Day; proposed guest speakers and visits to places of worship.