Religious Studies and Philosophy
Religious Studies helps young adults to develop their own beliefs and values and it enables them to make informed decisions with respect to the world of religion, morality and ethics.
Moreover, it equips them with a wide range of life skills that may be transferred to a whole host of life situations and personal and public contexts (e.g. communication skills, listening skills, logical reasoning skills, empathy etc.)
“The God or gods we worship are more a part of us than we realize....Only by understanding how in our own minds we have defined their nature can we begin to understand the underlying forces that make us behave the way we do...” David Anderson.
Key Stage 3
In years 7-9 students will complete a range of different activities, including creative presentations and research-based projects as well as regular classroom lessons. Each unit of study is based around a central philosophical enquiry question, which is then consolidated at the end of the unit by a personal response assessment. Students are encouraged to look at different religious and non-religious responses to the question, as well as analysing and justifying their own beliefs.
Students who choose to do the GCSE course follow the AQA Specification B and as part of this all students attend 5 lessons per cycle in Year 10 and 4 lessons per cycle in Year 11.
Lessons are based around study of a variety of ethical issues from religious and non-religious viewpoints, with Christianity and Hinduism being the two religions studied. The two papers studied are 'Religion and Life Issues' and 'Religion and Morality.' There is no coursework.
Students are given the option to take up either A Level Religious Studies or IB Philosophy, both of which are taught from within the department. The A-Level course is based around religious and non-religious ethics, as well as various debates within the philosophy of religion. The IB course also includes philosophy of religion, but additionally looks at political philosophy and a core theme entitled “What is a human being?” Students in both courses will be expected to conduct reading of key philosophical texts.
In Year 7 pupils are taught in form groups. In Years 8 and 9 pupils are taught in hierarchical sets in line with their English setting. At GCSE students are taught in hierarchical sets too.
At the end of each unit pupils will do a common end of unit assessment; in practice this will mean for Key Stage 3 pupils three to six assessments per year. In Years 8 and 9 pupils will in addition take an exam.
At all stages students are shown what they are aiming for in terms of National Curriculum levels and examination syllabuses. They are given opportunities to think through and use assessment criteria for themselves, for example by sometimes assessing each other's work, such as a presentation or a practice exam answer. Teachers give feedback and targets to pupils in marking and individual advice in class in order that each student knows how to improve, and pupils are given regular opportunities to act on this feedback and set their own personalised targets.
For GCSE students there is regular testing all though the course, with exams at the end of Year 10 and a mock exam in December of Year 11. In the sixth form students have regular essays and other tasks set, such as research, class presentations and note taking.
The department organises a number of day visits: Year 8 pupils have an opportunity to visit the Bhakti Vedanta Manor Hindu Temple in Hertfordshire. Year 9 pupils have an opportunity to visit the Jewish Museum in London and hear a first-hand account from a Holocaust survivor. Year 10 students have the opportunity to hear first-hand from a Hindu about their responses to various ethical issues. Lower Sixth A-Level and IB students visit a conference on the philosophy of religion in central London.
Students are expected to organise their work independently and meet all deadlines. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for planning, drafting and proof reading their work. In addition there are many websites students could use.
The department is staffed by a team of five, some specialist and other enthusiastic and well-motivated staff from the Humanities Department, led by Bob Saull, the Head of Subject, within the Humanities Department.