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Religious Studies

Religious Studies at Thetford Grammar School facilitates pupils’ personal development. At each of the Key Stages, Religious Studies takes into account the awareness and abilities of pupils and contributes towards the personal development of the child as they engage with their own context in the world today.

This approach to learning involves shared concerns and experiences as opposed to shared topics. Rather than learning purely ‘about’ the different beliefs and practices of many religions, pupils explore questions such as those concerning matters of life and death from their own point of view, as well as though contrast of differing religious perspectives.

The schemes of learning for Key Stage 3 are designed with a view to the Norfolk Agreed Syllabus for Religious Studies.

KS3

Year 7

Autumn Term:

Introduces ‘ultimate questions’: what is ‘real’; how do we ‘know’ what is real; how do ‘we’ know what is real?

Pupils are introduced to the world views of theism, secularism and postmodernism and consider these, thinking about the impact of these views on our lives and on our ideas of tolerance.

Spring Term:

Pupils consider sources of wisdom and authority from the perspectives of Christianity, Judaism and a secular ethic. Pupils use these religious and non-religious perspectives to approach the ‘big question’ of whether taking a life is ‘always wrong’.

Summer Term:

Pupils study Judaism and Sikhism and explore the ways in which beliefs and teachings impact upon the identity of a Jew or a Sikh.

 

Year 8

Autumn Term

Pupils explore Christian approaches to making ethical decisions, including an introduction to Situation Ethics, and a secular approach. Pupils learn the way these worldviews might approach a moral dilemma – including issues of whether human life should be protected at all costs, animal rights, and war. Pupils assess which approach is more helpful in each case.

Spring Term:

Pupils learn about the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu approaches to prejudice and poverty. Pupils reflect on what they can do in response to the poverty and prejudices experienced in the world today.

Summer Term:

Pupils consider religious and non-religious approaches to life after death, including humanist, Buddhist, Christian and Islamic beliefs. Pupils will also consider the  coherency of these different beliefs and the ways in which such beliefs might impact on the way someone chooses to live their life.

 

Year 9

Autumn Term:

Pupils consider different types of argument and statements about the world. This allows them to consider what they count as ‘reliable evidence’ and to explore if anything can be known about the non-physical. In turn, this will help them to begin to evaluate some of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God (design and causation) and the challenges posed by evil and suffering.

Spring Term:

Pupils spend a term focussed on the beliefs, teachings and practices of Buddhism. Enquiry questions that run throughout this unit of study include ‘what is belief and what does it mean to be religious’; ‘does suffering have a purpose’ and ‘does suffering prove that God does not exist?’

Summer Term:

Pupils explore the extent to which human life can be seen as sacred, as well as the extent to which science makes people ‘play god’. The question of quality versus sanctity of life opens discussion to current world issues of abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment, paving the way for GCSE study if so opted!

GCSE

The new OCR Religious Studies GCSE provides learners with the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of two world religions- Christianity and Islam, as well as the opportunity to explore philosophy of religion and ethics. Throughout the course, students will engage with relevant topical issues including relationships and families, and war, peace and conflict.

Learners will sit three examinations in total: one on Islamic beliefs, teachings and practices, one on Christian beliefs teachings and practices, and one on religion, philosophy and ethics in the modern world.

The skills of critical debate and analysis and judgement of such a range of cultural, religious and non-religious, moral and ethical topics makes Religious Studies an ideal subject to prepare a student to face such dialogue outside of the classroom.

A Level:

The OCR A Level provides an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the development in Christian thought, and explore philosophy of religion, and religion and ethics. Students are encouraged to engage in relevant topical issues including those of euthanasia, business and sexual ethics. The Russell Group of top universities has made it clear that Religious Studies A Level provides ‘suitable preparation for university generally’. Religious Studies is excellent grounding for any work involving working with different groups of individuals. Having an understanding of peoples’ beliefs and values and how they came to these, as well as being able to form critical arguments for themselves, prepares the student well for a wide array of careers e.g. in law, teaching, nursing. The Religious Studies A Level compliments many of the other A Levels courses offered as its breadth covers business, events in History, and challenges of Science to religion.

Students study for three separate but related papers: Philosophy of Religion, Ethics, and Developments in Christian Thought.

Topics included in A Level study are:

·      Ancient influences on Philosophical thought (Plato and Aristotle)

·      The nature of the soul, mind and body

·      Arguments about the existence or non-existence of God

·      The nature and impact of religious experience

·      Challenges to religious belief from the problem of evil

·      Ideas about the nature of God

·      Normative ethical theories

·      Application of ethical theory to Business ethics, Euthanasia and Sexual ethics

·      Debates surrounding the significant area of conscience