The Religious Studies mantra is ‘Question, challenge, think’. These are the three skills that we aim to foster and develop throughout Key Stage 3 in preparation for success at GCSE and beyond. We believe strongly in the importance of RS as part of a well-balanced education. RS does not proselytise or convert – it informs and develops important reasoning skills. Long gone are the days of Religious Instruction – RS is about providing your sons and daughters with the tools to consider their own identities, beliefs and values.
We use a wide range of innovative teaching techniques with a focus on enquiry based learning, giving the pupils the freedom to explore the topics they find interesting within the context of a curriculum. The RS syllabus is derived from the Central Bedfordshire, Bedfordshire and Luton SACRE – a non-statutory framework that allows us to tailor the RS education to our pupils.
Pupils are assessed once every half term across six key skills from levels W- to 9.
Year 7 is the foundation for success in Religious Studies. We take a comparative approach across four religions, building on the knowledge the pupils learned in primary school. We begin by examining the role of Jesus as an inspiration for Christians, exploring the way he is represented through art, looking at key events in his life and applying his teachings to modern moral conundrums. We then look at what it means to be a Muslim in 21st Century Britain, focusing on the key beliefs and practices, including the Pillars of Islam and beliefs about life after death. Following this, we examine life as a 21st Century Sikh, questioning meanings of identity and belonging, and studying symbols of the Sikh religion. Lastly, we examine the Buddhist quest for happiness in the modern world, questioning whether such a concept is possible in an ever-changing society. We explore meditation, Buddhist rules and teachings within Buddhist scripture.
The pupils are assessed regularly – once every half term. They have two assessment objectives –
AO1 – Learning about religion assesses pupil understanding of beliefs and teachings, practices and ways of life and forms of expression.
A02 – Learning about religion assesses understanding of issues connected with identity and belonging, meaning, purpose and truth and values and commitments.
Pupils are expected to learn key specialist vocabulary, identify differences between and within religions and develop empathy with people of a different faith.
Homework is set regularly and is mainly essay based. Pupils are given support with structuring essay writing and are taught the importance of good written communication. As such, cross curricular links with literacy abound throughout the year.
Year 8 introduces the pupils to big philosophical questions. They begin with a unit examining beliefs in the afterlife. They study Christian and Hindu teachings, compare and contrast these with humanist understandings of life after death and examine funeral rites and beliefs about life after death shown through art.
Following this, they examine beliefs about God, creation and philosophical influences, including the Design and Causation arguments. They compare and contrast these with non-religious views, examining Darwinism and the Big Bang theory. This is a good basis for the GCSE as these topics re-appear in more detail.
Thereafter, they embark on a series of ‘mini units’ aiming at familiarising them with big moral and ethical issues. They examine the origin of war, looking at the relationship between religion and conflict, exploring just war theory and considering religious teachings. Pupils then study the relationship between humans and animals, exploring animal rights and ethical arguments concerning vegetarianism. Lastly, they explore issues of wealth and poverty, examining LEDCs and fair trade arguments – good cross curricular links are therefore built with Geography.
Year 8 is a big step up from Year 7 due to the introduction of philosophical themes. Pupils are therefore supported at all levels and are encouraged to take risks with their independent thinking, building their abilities to evaluate and consider other points of view. Any visits to places of worship, museums or art galleries will support your child’s learning. Equally, challenging your child to justify their thinking will build their reasoning skills.
Encouraging your child to regularly read the news will introduce them to a wide range of philosophical, religious and ethical issues. Programmes such as ‘The Simpsons’, EastEnders and Panorama often feature relevant topics. There is a plethora of reading and clips available on websites such as TrueTube and BBC Learning Zone and films such as ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ and ‘The Boy in Striped Pyjamas’ (both rated 12, BBFC) consider major philosophical questions.
All pupils take an RS Full course GCSE. The ‘new’ style GCSE paper is being introduced – we use AQA Religious Studies A. This consists of two components: Beliefs, teachings and practices and thematic studies. Each component is assessed through a 1 hr 45 minute examination at the end of Year 11.
Both papers are marked out of 101 and each make up 50% of the qualification.
|Year 9||Year 10||Year 11|
|Introduction to philosophy||(Paper 1) Islam: Beliefs and teachings (cont.)||(Paper 2) Thematic Study D: Religion, peace and conflict|
|(Paper 1) Christianity: Beliefs and teachings||(Paper 1) Islam: Practices||(Paper 2) Thematic Study E: Religion, Crime and Punishment|
|(Paper 1) Christianity: Practices||(Paper 2) Thematic Study A: Relationships and families||Exam preparation|
|(Paper 1) Islam: Beliefs and teachings||(Paper 2) Thematic Study B: Religion and Life|
The Humanities department are looking forward to introducing an A Level from September 2017. It will follow the OCR Specification, examining philosophy of religion, ethical issues and developments in religious thought. Each will be assessed in a two hour written paper, comprising 33.3% of the total qualification.
An RS A Level is held in high regard by universities due to the rigour and depth of study. Besides knowledge of religious views, pupils will continue to develop their skills of analysis, evaluation and communication. As such, RS is ideal for those wishing to work in the media, law, politics, education or the civil service.
Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is an important part of the education that your child receives at All Saints Academy Dunstable. Opportunities for SMSC are therefore identified throughout the curriculum. Your child is encouraged to consider and respond to questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life, questions of morality and their identity in a multicultural society. RS assists with this through providing plenty of opportunity for dialogue and allowing your child to discover and respond to their own quest for meaning.