The principal aim of RS in both the Kent Syllabus and at OPGS is to engage pupils in systematic enquiry into significant human questions which religion and worldviews address, so that they can develop the understanding and skills needed to appreciate and appraise varied responses to these questions, as well as develop responses of their own.
The Year 7 & 8 curriculum broadly follows the Kent Agreed Syllabus for Religious Studies. Each unit of work is based around an enquiry question and is answered from a range of religious and non-religious worldviews. The worldviews that are covered include Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Humanism and Atheism. Students are introduced to ethical questions and moral dilemmas.The Year 9 Keystone curriculum is based around philosophical and ethical enquiry questions. This is to promote high level critical thinking and to engage students in a range of religious and philosophical questions, stretching and challenging them to debate their responses to these ultimate questions.
In Years 10 and 11, all students take a full GCSE in Religious Studies. This comprises of studying Islam and Christianity in depth, understanding how belief affects behaviour and applying this to ethical units in the specification.
The A level course comprises of three components: Philosophy of Religion; Religion and Ethics; Developments in Christian Thought.
As a department we fully support and encourage the whole school ethos in the areas of kindness, tolerance and respect. Students can demonstrate a love of learning outside the classroom on our Enrichment days which include activities such as a joint trip to Canterbury Cathedral with History and Mathematics. We also have a cross curricular enrichment day with Geography looking at issues around sustainability. The department also welcomes visitors into the classroom for students to hear a first-hand perspective on faith and belief.
Foundation years: years 7 and 8
- The Island – This unit is based around a story of a group of people who are shipwrecked on a deserted island and how they set up a community and way of life together.
- What is so radical about Jesus? This investigation enables pupils to learn in depth from Christianity about their view of Jesus, and how people within a religion or world view understand and live out the teachings of Jesus in the world around them.
- What is good and what is challenging about being a teenage Sikh/Buddhist/Muslim today? This investigation enables pupils to learn in depth from Buddhists, Muslims and / or Sikhs and their ways of living, beliefs and communities, providing opportunities to consider challenging questions about the place of religion in Britain today and in pupils’ own thinking
- Does religion help people to be good? This investigation enables pupils to learn in depth from different religious and spiritual ways of life about being good and living well in society.
- How could we and why should we reduce racism in our society? This investigation aims to challenge and confront racism and invite all learners to consider how they can cultivate an open mind and reduce their own prejudice. By using the concepts of commitment, respect and tolerance and examples of co-operation between faiths, the unit aims to make a key contribution to religious understanding for a plural community or region.
- Is death the end? This investigation enables pupils to learn in depth from different religious and spiritual ways of life about their view of suffering, and how people within a religion or world view understand and live with suffering in the world around them.
- Should religious buildings be sold to feed the starving? This investigation enables students to learn in depth about the purposes and types of worship. The key question makes students think about why places of worship exist and how they help religious communities. Students can answer whichever way they like, but balanced arguments and information are given in this unit as we explore the function of worship in the lives of religious communities.
Keystone year: year 9
- Do we need to prove God’s existence? This investigation enables pupils to learn in depth from different religions and worldviews about the place of belief, exploring why Buddhists are relatively unconcerned about the idea of God, why this is a vital matter for Christians, and why atheists reject the idea of God. The concept of proof is examined alongside related ideas about evidence, belief, perspective and interpretation.
- Why is there suffering in the world? This investigation enables pupils to learn in depth from different religious and spiritual ways of life about their view of suffering, and how people within a religion or world view understand and live with suffering in the world around them
- Is religion a power for peace or a cause of conflict in the world? This investigation enables pupils to learn in depth from different religious examples of engagement with conflict and peace, exploring the issues.
GCSE: Years 10 and 11
Exam board: Edexcel
Qualification aims and objectives
The aims and objectives of this qualification are to enable students to:
- develop their knowledge and understanding of religions and non-religious beliefs, such as atheism and humanism
- develop their knowledge and understanding of religious beliefs, teachings, and sources of wisdom and authority, including through their reading of key religious texts, other texts, and scriptures of the religions they are studying
- develop their ability to construct well-argued, well-informed, balanced and structured written arguments, demonstrating their depth and breadth of understanding of the subject
- engage with questions of belief, value, meaning, purpose, truth, and their influence on human life
- reflect on and develop their own values, beliefs and attitudes in the light of what they have learnt and will contribute to their preparation for adult life in a pluralistic society and global community
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of Islam and Christainity
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key sources of wisdom and authority including scripture and/or sacred texts, where appropriate, which support contemporary religious faith
- understand the influence of religion on individuals, communities and societies
- understand significant common and divergent views between and/or within religions and beliefs
- apply knowledge and understanding in order to analyse questions related to religious beliefs and values
- construct well-informed and balanced arguments on matters concerned with religious beliefs and values.
Area of Study 1 – Christianity
This area of study comprises a study in depth of Christianity as a lived religion within the United Kingdom and throughout the world, and its beliefs and teachings on life, specifically within families, and with regard to matters of life and death.
Area of Study 2 – Islam
This area of study comprises an in-depth study of Islam as a lived religion within the United Kingdom and throughout the world, and its beliefs and teachings on life, specifically about the issues of peace and conflict, and crime and punishment.
- Muslim Beliefs: Six Beliefs; Five Root of Usul ad-Din; Allah; Angels; Prophets; Holy Books; al-Qadr; Akhirah.
- Living the Muslim Life: Ten Obligatory Acts; Shahadah; Salah; Zakah and Khums; Sawm; Hajj; Jihad; Celebrations and Commemorations.
- Christian Beliefs: The Trinity; Incarnation; Last days of Jesus’ Life; Salvation; Eschatology; Problem of evil and solutions.
- Marriage and the Family: Marriage; Sexual Relationships; Family; Family Planning; Divorce and Remarriage; Equality of men and women; Gender prejudice and discrimination.
- Living the Christian Life: Worship; Sacraments; Prayer; Pilgrimage; Celebrations; Local church; the future of the Church; the Worldwide Church.
- Matters of life and death: Origins and value of the universe, Sanctity of Life; Origins and Value of Human Life; Abortion; Life after death and responses; Euthanasia; Issues in the Natural World.
- Crime and Punishment: Justice; Crime; Good, Evil and Suffering; Punishment; Aims of Punishment; Forgiveness; Treatment of Criminals; Death Penalty.
- Peace and Conflict: Peace; Peacemaking; Conflict; Pacifism; Just War Theory; Holy War; WMD; Issues Surrounding Conflict.
A level: years 12 and 13
Exam board: OCR
The OCR A Level in Religious Studies builds on the knowledge, understanding and skills established at GCSE (9–1). Learners are introduced to a more advanced approach to Religious Studies, and develop a deeper understanding of the beliefs, teachings and philosophy they study.
OCR’s A Level in Religious Studies encourages learners to:
- develop their interest in a rigorous study of religion and belief and relate it to the wider world
- develop knowledge and understanding appropriate to a specialist study of Christianity
- develop an understanding and appreciation of religious thought and its contribution to individuals, communities and societies
- adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion
- reflect on and develop their own values, opinions and attitudes
Philosophy of religion
- Ancient philosophical influences (Plato and Aristotle)
- Arguments about the existence or non-existence of God (Cosmological, Teleological and Ontological Arguments)
- The challenge for religious belief of the problem of evil
- The nature and impact of religious experience
- The nature of the soul, mind and body
Religion and ethics
- Normative ethical theories (Natural Law, Situation Ethics, Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics)
- The application of ethical theory to two contemporary issues of importance (Euthanasia and Business Ethics)
Developments in Christian thought
- Knowledge of God’s existence
- Augustine’s teachings on human nature
- The person of Jesus Christ
- Christian moral principles
- Death and the afterlife
- Christian moral action – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Philosophy of religion
- Ideas about the nature of God
- Issues in religious language
Religion and ethics
- Sexual ethics and the influence on ethical thought of developments in religious beliefs.
- Debates surrounding the significant idea of conscience
- Ethical language and thought
Developments in Christian thought
- Religious pluralism
- The challenge of secularism
- Liberation theology and Marx