Head of Subject: Mr B. Kingswood / Mrs A. Kilvington
Rationale for the Key Stage Three Programme of Study:
There can be few subjects that have changed so greatly over the last decade as RE, referred to more correctly as Religion and Worldviews (RWV). The name change reflects that we are proud to teach about religion and religious communities as an academic subject. The Worldviews aspect introduces students to the concept of looking at the world through a lens which may or may not include religion at the heart of it. It recognises that as part of being human, we are trying to make sense of our own worlds and experiences.
‘Substantive knowledge’, ‘ways of knowing’ and ‘personal knowledge.’
The 3 types of knowledge are not separate from one another but are an integral part of this curriculum. At each stage, it has been considered which is the most appropriate to focus on for that particular lesson or activity.
Ways of knowing – How do pupils learn about religion and non-religion?
This concerns the different academic tools and disciplinary lenses that are used to study the substantive knowledge. Students use resources which include videos, interviews with people, words of wisdom from the sacred texts. Questions are raised and discussions held. Students are helped to understand that what they are learning is a snapshot of that religious community. Students are now beginning to say ‘some’ as opposed to ‘all’. This is just one example which demonstrates the impact the lessons have had in Years 7 and 8 over the last 2 years. Data and information from the most recent Census is woven into lessons and we await the information to be released from the latest Census. In year 7, the journey begins with the introduction to World Views and Philosophy.
Substantive knowledge and personal knowledge:
This concerns the subject content; the beliefs and teachings, the practices and the traditions of the community and the individual.
Up to 70% of young people no longer personally identify with a religion or religious experience (Woodhead I, ‘The rise of no religion towards an explanation’ Sociology of Religion, 2017), and so getting the lessons and the curriculum right is crucial. The KS3 (inclusive of Year 9) curriculum has been written to help students to understand that people from religious and non-religious backgrounds will have different experiences depending on their environment. Does a British Muslim have the same experiences as a Muslim in Saudi Arabia, for example? How is it the same? How is it different? What is the lived experiences of people from religious communities? The lessons have been written to help students to consider these questions. Where it is appropriate, the country or culture resources used are explained to the students.
When studying Christians/Muslims/Hindus/ Buddhists/Sikhs, units are divided into beliefs and teachings for the first half of the unit and practices/ ways of being in the second half of the unit. It is the intention that in this way, the unit tells an interwoven story of belief and practice.
‘Curriculum’ comes from the Latin for ‘racecourse’. It is a course to be run, a journey from beginning to end. The curriculum is a journey which takes students through from Philosophy and investigating ways of knowing and understanding Worldviews and lenses, through to two of the Abrahamic religions (Year 7) before embarking on the Dharmic religions in year 8, and autumn of Year 9. From September 2022, the order of the schemes have changed to enable students, in Year 8, to begin their Dharmic journey by studying Hindu Dharma first, then Buddhist followed by Sikhi in year 9. This enables students to make links and understand threads; how can Buddhist Dharma and Sikhi be fully understood without first understanding the teachings that influenced Gautama and Guru Nanak? The syllabus takes into account local beliefs, as the Year 8 Buddhist Dharma scheme reflects the local Buddhist community at Bright Earth Temple, Malvern.
We have followed the Worcestershire Agreed Syllabus, including the religious traditions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists in Years 7 - 9. From the spring in Year 9, there begins a more thematic approach and NATRE’s unit on Anti-Racist Education has been used and further lessons written and added to complete the unit for Hanley. The Year 9 units include Prejudice and Discrimination (completing the spring unit) then in the summer, a shorter unit on questions of medical ethics. The year ends with lessons to support the NATRE national competition ‘Spirited Arts’ which we will enter for the first time in 2023.
In Year 10 the first unit examines questions of war and peace, which includes application of knowledge of the religious traditions learnt in Year 7, 8 and 9 (Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu) therefore further embedding the knowledge learnt in Key Stage 3. Inspirational People is the second unit, where students are encouraged to consider whether religious beliefs help to make people more ‘inspirational’ albeit in different ways, and in the third unit students have an opportunity to consider Isms and Ologies, which includes one-off lessons on such diverse beliefs as Rastafari, Zoroastrianism and Veganism. They consider the question ‘What is a religion, anyway?’.
The aim for the unit, from the spring of year 9 through to the end of year 10 is that the sequence of religions and non-religions studied will enable students to re-visit the knowledge that they built up in key stage 3, whilst studying these themes. This gives students the opportunity to embed their previous knowledge into their working memory.
The schema that students build whilst studying RWV doesn’t stay at the school gates but evolves as they go beyond the Worcestershire countryside and out into the world, where students will, themselves, continue to add knowledge of religion and non-religion as they grow, in an everchanging and developing world. It is our job to enable them to do this.
Assesssment and skills.
Assessment in RWV is a point of national debate, complicated in a subject that is not only academic but also encourages students to reflect upon their own personal thoughts and experiences.
The following skills will be assessed:
Knowledge - This is the substantive knowledge and concerns the subject content being studied. The beliefs and values, the teachings, the truth claims, the practices and traditions of the individual or community being studied.
Evaluation/Analysis/ explanation - This is crucial in preparing students for the skills needed at GCSE. Which arguments are the most important and why? What makes them an important, persuasive argument? How can you argue and explain clearly?
Lived Experience - This is when students can demonstrate an understanding of how the environment, background and culture will impact upon the lived experiences of a person living within a faith. Can students demonstrate a well developed sense of empathy in their answers? It could be argued that this is the biggest skill of all.
Parents do have the right to withdraw their child from RE/RWV and provide an alternative religious education, and must contact the Headteacher if they wish to do so. However, the school does not support selective withdrawal from RE/RWV.
Key Stage 4:
AQA GCSE Religious Studies A (option subject)
Rationale for the Key Stage Four Programme of Study: Religious Studies GCSE
For the exam we study Islam and Christianity, along with 4 themes: Relationships and families, Religion and life, Religion, peace and conflict, Religion, human rights and social justice. Students on the course enjoy the deeper theology that the course involves, as well as applying their religious knowledge to the themes. If ever there was a GCSE course to help prepare students for life in ‘The Real World’ then this is it. Engaging, philosophical, rooted in culture and current affairs. Students learn how to organise their thought, apply knowledge and improve their analysis and evaluation skills.