Why do we teach Religious Studies?
The Religious Studies department at Hele’s School is committed to helping all students engage with and understand the world around them through the disciplines of theology, philosophy, and social science. Religion has played a significant role in history and the development of society, and the study of religion empowers students with a deeper understanding that helps them to connect ideas in many different subjects. The principle aim of RS is to, ‘explore what people believe and what difference this makes to how they live, so that pupils can gain the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to handle questions raised by religion and belief, reflecting on their own ideas and ways of living.’
We aim to teach all students to think for themselves, to be open-minded to the views of others and to be able to raise questions and challenge ideas in a respectful and logical manner.
Theology is dedicated to helping students understand key concepts that are important to religions and worldviews. It helps students to understand where beliefs have come from and how they influence the lives of believers in the world today. It involves the study of key texts, sources of authority and the ability to explain the importance of these in the context of the lives of believers and understand how these can be interpreted differently. It also allows students to assess the claims made by sources of authority and evaluate the arguments surrounding them in both a religious and non-religious context.
Philosophy enables students to engage with deeper questions about meaning and purpose and our place within the universe. It encompasses issues to do with morality and ethics. Students at Hele’s will enjoy studying philosophy through dialogue and debate. Everyone is encouraged to take part in discussions and be accountable for their contribution.
Social science is a part of RS at Hele’s because we study how religion has impacted on how people live their lives and the development of society, individuals and culture. Religion has been and continues to be a big influence on social issues such as diversity, families, gender and relationships.
The RS curriculum at Hele’s enables students to build on their understanding of religion with a focus on Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism at Key Stage 3. At Key Stage 4 students will continue to study Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. In conjunction with the religious views students will encounter humanism and other non-religious worldviews. At Key Stage 5 students study Philosophy, Ethics and Buddhism.
It is our intention in the RS department to equip students with the necessary literacy skills to enable them to write, read and speak like a philosopher. We aim to promote tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others and to increase the confidence of pupils so that they can give opinions and join in with debate and discussion in a meaningful way.
Religious Studies and Philosophy at Heles is designed to challenge every student. The curriculum focuses on issues that are directly relevant to everyday life and are the subject of much debate in the news. This is a very contemporary and vibrant subject which gives students the platform to ask challenging questions about the wider world in which they live.
The courses at all levels consider philosophical and ethical questions and the way that different people from different cultures have tried to answer them. Students are encouraged to think for themselves, grapple with the most controversial issues and debate, deliberate and challenge the thinking of others. It strives to enable students the opportunity to be thoughtful, informed human beings who have the skills that enable them to cope with the many and varied challenges of life.
Alongside the subject’s contribution to pupils’ mental, cognitive and linguistic development, RS offers distinctive opportunities to promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. RS lessons should offer a structured and safe space during curriculum time for reflection, discussion, dialogue and debate. Lessons also allow for timely and sensitive responses to be made to unforeseen events of a religious, moral or philosophical nature. Students 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.
Students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning above and beyond the RS classrooms. Students could participate in other opportunities the RS department have to offer including Generation Global Video-conferencing, Philosophy Club and many RS department challenges. Please follow our twitter page(@HelesRS) for more information.
The Department has recently received the RE Quality Mark (REQM) Silver Award which is national award that recognises and celebrates high quality religious education. An important part of the REQM is that an assessor visits the school and talks to the learners about their experiences in the subject. These are some of the things which pupils/students at our school had to say:
- ‘RS is interesting, and makes you think hard.’
- ‘From RS lessons I have learnt about ethics. This has taught me about my own moral code, what it means to make choices and what is morally right and wrong.’
- I have been taught about many religions which are different from my own. This has given me an understanding of others’ views and beliefs’
- ‘Every lesson is different. We talk about the news and how we can understand others, and remember everyone is human, regardless if they believe in God or not.’
The Department also engages with Generation Global, which is a programme that enables students to connect with peers across the globe through live videoconferences. The RS department connects with many schools across the globe, engaging in a variety of topics. All students can participate in these videoconferences throughout the academic year.
Key Stage Overview
We currently follow AQA Religious Studies at GCSE and the Eduqas Religious Studies at at A-Level.
Students in Year 7 and 8 have two one-hour lessons per fortnight and in Years 9, 10 and 11 GCSE students have six lessons per fortnight.
We are strong advocates of the benefits of learning beyond the classroom and have invested significantly in developing our extra-curricular offer in recent years. For example, the RS department has recently held interactive events to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, hosted the Great Get Together to celebrate diversity across the region and worked closely with the Institute for Global Change as part of the Generation Global initiative.