The department follows the Locally Agreed Syllabus for Hampshire ‘Living Difference.’ This syllabus does not prescribe the content of lessons but the method that is used to promote high quality learning and higher level thinking. The department supports students in developing their own pattern of values and beliefs which will help them in the complex world in which they live. In doing this we ask students to reflect on their own cultural, spiritual, moral and social understanding. This follows the spirit of the Education Acts that guide schools in England and Wales. Students will achieve these things through the study of religious concepts, beliefs and practices and will learn to interpret and respond to these things in their own way as they construct meaning in their own and others’ lives.
Key Stage 3
Year 7 students begin with a study of the Seven Dimensions of Religion. This gives them a method for exploring the complex nature of religion in human life. Then they use this understanding to study a world religion and are then able to identify the different dimensions of religion in Sikhism. The rationale behind this is that students will be able to recognize and understand religious culture wherever they encounter it in their lives and on their travels. Year 7 is completed with a study of inspirational people and what impact they have made of human life. Year 8 will then move to an exploration of the figure of the Buddha and his vision. This will be followed by a study of Judaism with a focus on the state of Israel and the complex history of that region. Year 8 will finish with an introduction to philosophical enquiry and argument. This will include looking at arguments for and against the existence of God.
Key Stage 4
This key stage moves onto a study of Ethics, the science of right and wrong and human decision making. Students study sexual ethics within the context of relationships education. They explore some of the most current thinking in medical ethics and we use Christian ethical views and non- religious humanist approaches to help students through this topic. Crime and Punishment is studied in year 10 with a focus on the aims of punishment followed by Equality, Peace and Justice
Frequently Asked Questions
What is it that is so amazing about your subject
We are a set of specialist teachers with expert knowledge of religious studies and philosophy. Our curriculum is varied and relevant to the world our students will one day find their place in.
What is it that you guys do so well
Lessons are carefully planned with good, specially designed resources. We use our technology to help students learn to their best ability. We care about all of our students and take time to help each one achieve their potential. We form good relationships with our classes emphasising mutual respect.
Why do students enjoy your subject so much
We try hard to make the learning relevant to human experience and relate the learning to real life around the world. We use texts, stories, youtube and film to explore the world we live in.
What support do you offer
Patience and understanding first and foremost. We know our students are individuals and come to us with a range of experiences and ideas. We offer choice in many of the tasks we ask students to complete. We like the idea of students choosing a way of showing their understanding that suits them.
How rich is the curriculum (e.g. what do you offer)
Our curriculum is unusual in the breadth we offer. As well as exploring world religions and the rich cultures they come from, we also study philosophy from the ancient Greeks to more modern ethical ideas such as medical ethics.
We believe our subject contributes some important elements to the development of young people. We explore where our key ideas and values come from and we ask students to be critical. We practise argument and expressing personal opinions. As we live in a global world where we are increasingly connected and diverse, we take time to develop understanding of different viewpoints, even those we disagree with.
Synopsis of Study
Year 7 – Religious Studies
In the first term we make some links with KS2 study, trying to form a comfortable transition from Junior school. This involves our selection of key vocabulary and topics for this term. Students learn a method for studying Religion. As a huge global subject we break it down into dimensions (seven) and look for evidence of these in different religious contexts around the world. For example we study the Mythological dimension and use as our examples the myth of Krishna from ancient India. For the Ritual dimension we explore the Passover meal from Judaism.
Once students have gained a good understanding of the seven dimensions of religion, we turn to a major world religion that is well represented in our locality (Southampton) and look for evidence of the dimensions. This term though, students explore these themselves instead of being directed towards them. Students should be able to identify and explain these examples from Sikhism in some detail.
In the Summer Term, students have a good background awareness of religion around the world and can use the seven dimensions to contextualise religious concepts like sacred, myth, ritual, social, philosophical and experiential. They turn in this final term to individuals who have been motivated by religious and non- religious beliefs to making a difference. Students choose from a range of figures such as Martin Luther King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Chad Varah the founder of the Samaritans. This shows students that religious and non-religious beliefs can affect individuals as much as communities and whole cultures.
Year 8 – Religious Studies
In the first term of the year students explore a major world religion with a philosophical element in the form of Buddhism. The focus is on the importance of the life story and the development of a myth which helps its followers to explore their own lives. They will continue to develop their understanding of the different dimensions of religion which are clearly represented in Buddhism.
The Spring Term introduces students to philosophy and the critical thinking that it involves. What is real? Why should I be good? Does God exist? What can I prove? These questions are explored and the thinking skills of students are stretched. Literacy is developed as students try to explain their ideas and arguments using reason and evidence.
In the Summer Term we develop students’ thinking skills by looking at two seemingly different ways of understanding the world – Science and Religion. We go back to the ancient Greeks and see how religion and exploring the natural world were not separate. Then through history we study Galileo, Newton and Darwin to understand how religion and science interacted in complex ways, sometimes friends, sometimes enemies.
Year 9 – Religious Studies
In the Autumn Term we study a major world religion, in this case Islam. Students are introduced to the geography of the Middle East and the origins of Islam as understood by the Islamic traditions. The life of Muhammed forms the basis of the topic and many of the key beliefs and practices of Islam are related back to this.
This term moves towards students’ own lives and personal development as they study the complex world of relationships. Marriage in all its forms begins the topic and the impact of marriage, religious (Christian mainly) and non-religious on individuals and society. Skills such as personal reflection, tolerance and inclusiveness are developed. Humanism is part of this term’s work where students explore a worldview that is not religious but still values human creativity, the need for ceremony and a critical approach to life’s big questions.
The Summer term involves a detailed study of Medical Ethics. Topics like euthanasia and animal experimentation are explored using religious and non- religious ideas to help navigate through these complicated but increasingly relevant issues. Christianity forms our religious study to contextualise much of the discussion.
Year 10 – Religious Studies
Year 10 involves the study of more challenging topics that are appropriate to their age and development. All the topics use religious and non-religious perspectives taken from a range of religious traditions. This term begins with an exploration of why and how we punish offenders who break the laws of the UK. We look at the aims of punishment as they have been developed over many centuries. We also look at the effectiveness of prison, and we do this by comparing the USA with the UK and Norway. Evaluation skills are developed in year 10 as students work out for themselves their own responses.
The Spring term enables students to focus on themselves as they explore health and well-being, issues of identity, sexism and relationships. How we see ourselves and how we see others is a big focus in this term.
Year 10 ends with a study of religion and equality. History shows us how racism and inequality have played out at various times. Students look at racism in South Africa and the role of Nelson Mandela. They then look at the holocaust and the impact this had on our beliefs and values. The holocaust had a huge impact on Judaism as a world religion and so students explore how this happened.