Curriculum – Religious Studies

Curriculum – Religious Studies

Religious Studies

The Curriculum

Curriculum Intent

Religious Studies at Southend High School for Girls is an academically challenging subject that sets out to be a coherent curriculum that is engaging and stimulating for every single one of our students.  They will, through scholarly endeavour, experience and develop the breadth and depth of religious knowledge and religious literacy, and the skills of philosophical and ethical debate.  Throughout these experiences our students will explore their moral purpose, build their character and choose tolerance and kindness as their guide for behaviour based on experiential activities and the investigation of religious teachings and behaviours.  Through the lessons they are encouraged to challenge blind faith and blind atheism and so become independent thinkers, who are curious, confident and self-motivated.

What does it feel like to be a student in the Religious Studies Department?

Studying Religious Studies at Southend High School for Girls is about coming to understand the nature of religious belief and exploring the reasons people have for following these beliefs. Each lesson develops evaluative and critical skills, asking fundamental questions that move your thinking away from the obvious simple response into developing more complex and challenging responses based on evidence. You will develop the philosophical skills to be able to formulate questions accurately and be able to challenge any view in an appropriate manner. 

Each year builds on the previous one all the way to A level and key themes and skills are revisited so that you have a chance to develop them. GCSE and A level are optional, but should you take them you can expect the same intellectual challenge and rigour as Key Stage 3. By the end of the course, you will understand what it means to a person and a community to have faith and be able to recognise and critically examine the foundation of that faith, the nature of scripture, historical foundations, religious experience, and responses to ultimate questions. 

By the end of the course, you will be able to examine and explain why people hold to a belief in God, as well as be able to critically evaluate their responses to faith and apply this to responses to moral dilemmas. You will be able to explore the way in which faith shapes the life of the person and the community.

Please click on the button below to download the assessment policy for Religious Studies.

Journey

Religious Studies Curriculum

At SHSG the Religious Studies curriculum is tailored to the needs of the pupils and aims to encourage them to explore religious belief and recognise the contribution that it makes to the individual, the community, and to the wider world of thought. It is built around the skills of explanation and evaluation and draws on these skills at the GCSE and A level standard.  So preparing the pupils for future study of the subject.  They are encouraged to develop the skills of critical evaluation.  We do not follow the local agreed specification as laid down by the SACRE as the needs of the pupils are not met by this.  We have designed a course that develops scriptural literacy, encourages tolerance and understanding.

The Religious Studies curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Year 7 – 9

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from Year 6 Religious Studies ready to study in Year 7 if applicable

  • Due to the nature of the large catchment area the quality and coverage at KS2 is very varied and so little prior learning can be considered.

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the interests of the pupils, and the ambitions of a Grammar school, also challenging students to develop their own understanding. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our intent. Along the way students are assessed and skills will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 7

Term 1

Topics

  • Intro to RS
  • Existence of God
  • Christmas/Incarnation

Assessment

  • Evidence of the importance of religion today evaluative essay 
  • Design Argument evaluative essay 
  • End Unit assessment on God, two essays 
  • Christmas evaluative essay 

Term 2

Topics

  • Islam 

Assessment 

  • Allah evaluation essay 
  • Zakat evaluation 
  • End of unit assessment, two evaluative essays 

Term 3

Topics

  • Easter 
  • Life and Work of Jesus 

Assessment 

  • Easter end of unit evaluative essay 
  • Either Jesus the ordinary man evaluative essay 
  • End of year exam, one evaluative essay 

Year 8

Term 1

Topics

  • Sikhism 
  • Prejudice 

Assessment 

  • Essay to evaluate the changes made by Gobind Singh and the gurus 
  • Essay to evaluate the use of Sewa 
  • End of unit assessment essay. 
  • Prejudice evaluative essay 

Term 2

Topics

  • Rites of Passage 
  • Christian Faith and Practice 

Assessment 

  • Evaluative essay exploring why rites of passage are celebrated 
  • Evaluative group presentations on the similarities and differences between religions in regard to rites of passage 
  • Evaluative essay on Pentecost 

Term 3

Topics

  • Christian Faith and Practice 
  • Introduction to Hinduism 

Assessment 

  • Evaluative essay on the use of prayer 
  • Evaluative essay on the forms of baptism 
  • End of year exam, one evaluative essay 

Year 9

Term 1

Topics

  • Buddhism 

Assessment 

  • Essay evaluating the Jataka tales 
  • Essay exploring the value of enlightenment 
  • Essay exploring the purpose and value of the wheel of life 

Term 2

Topics

  • Religion and Science 
  • Problem of Evil 

Assessment 

  • Essay to evaluate the relationship of science and religion on Genetic engineering 
  • Essay evaluating the theodicy associated with the devil 

Term 3

Topics

  • Problem of Evil 
  • Death and the Afterlife 

Assessment 

  • End of unit assessment exploring the theodicies as related to a modern situation presented in a graphical format 
  • End of year exam, one evaluative essay 

Achieving outstanding outcomes in Religious Studies knowing and remembering even more that what is expected of a grammar school KS3 curriculum. 

In KS3 we assess student progress and attainment against the degree to which students have secured the key knowledge, skills and understanding that have been defined as being essential within each subject for a given year. (see above) 

When reporting student progress this will be determined by the quality of work being produced at that point within each subject given the context of this selective grammar school.  Progress will be reported according to the following standards: 

  • Working beyond expected year standard 
  • Working at expected year  
  • Working towards expected year standard 

To go beyond what is expected of a Religious Studies student in KS3 students read widely, engage in watching Ted Talks and recommended research, particularly those related to the areas of study, and learn key language and subject specific terminology. 

Recommended reading in Religious Studies for Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

  • Displayed in  school on board

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from Year 9 Religious Studies ready to study in Year 10 if applicable

  • Not applicable

The topics below have been chosen as they are in the specification.  The topics chosen reflect ambitions of a Grammar school, also challenging students to develop their own understanding. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our intent. Along the way students are assessed and skills will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 10

Term 1

Topics

  • Introduction to Judaism 
  • Shabbat 
  • Covenant 
  • Moses and the New Covenant 
  • Mitzvot 
  • Religion, crime and punishment 

Assessment 

  • A variety of examination questions 
  • End of unit assessments using examination papers 

Term 2

Topics

  • High Holy Days 
  • Tikkun Olam, Tzedakah and Justice 
  • Worship 
  • Religion, human rights and social justice 

Assessment 

  • A variety of examination questions 
  • End of unit assessments using examination papers 
  • PPE (whole year examination) 

Term 3

Topics

  • Rites of Passage 
  • Messiah 
  • Nature of God 
  • Different Christian beliefs about the after life 
  • The person of Jesus 
  • Religion, human rights and social justice 

Assessment 

  • A variety of examination questions 
  • End of unit assessments using examination paper

Year 11

Term 1

Topics

  • Worship 
  • Baptism 
  • Eucharist 
  • Pilgrimage 
  • Families and gender equality 

Assessment 

  • A variety of examination questions 
  • Past examination papers on current topics and topics covered in Year 10 

Term 2

Topics

  • Festivals 
  • The role of the Church 
  • Religion and Life 

Assessment 

  • A variety of examination questions 
  • Past examination papers on current topics and topics covered in Year 10 
  • PPE (Pre Pubic Examinations) a whole set of past papers 

Term 3

  • Revision

Assessment

  • A variety of past papers

Achieving outstanding outcomes in Religious Studiesknowing and remembering even more that what is expected of a grammar school KS4 curriculum. 

In KS4 we assess student against the core content and assessment objectives as outlined by the relevant GCSE examination board specification.  For Religious Studies this is AQA Religious Studies 8062 Paper 1 Christianity and Judaism Options, Paper 2 Thematic Studies.  To go beyond what is expected of a Religious Studies student at GCSE and achieve outstanding outcomes in Religious Studies students should read widely, engage in watching Ted Talks and recommended research, and learn key language and subject specific terminology.  They should also keep up to date with current affairs that relate directly to the subjects studied.  They can watch documentaries relating to the specific religions such as ‘Strictly Kosher’. 

Recommended reading in Religious Studies for Middle School (Years 10 – 11)

  • Living Judaism
  • General books on Christianity or Judaism
  • Books on relevant ethical issues

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Lower School (Years 10 – 11)

  • BBC bitesize
  • BBC religions

At SHSG the Religious Studies curriculum is tailored to the needs of the pupils and aims to encourage them to explore religious belief and recognise the contribution that it makes to the individual, the community, and to the wider world of thought. It is built around the skills of explanation and evaluation and draws on these at A level standard.  So, preparing the pupils for further study of the subject, they are encouraged to develop the skills of critical evaluation.  We follow the Edexcel specification as this is the only specification offering New Testament Studies.

The Religious Studies curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from Year 11 Religious Studies ready to study in Year 12 if applicable

  • Not applicable

The topics below have been chosen as they are in the specification.  The topics chosen reflect ambitions of a Grammar school, also challenging students to develop their own understanding. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our intent. Along the way students are assessed and skills will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 12

Term 1

Topics

Design Argument 

Cosmological Argument 

Ontological Argument 

The nature of religious experience 

 Environmental issues 

Equality 

Utilitarianism 

 The world of the first century and the significance of this context for the life and work of Jesus 

Prophecy regarding the Messiah 

The Prologue in John 

Assessment 

  • A variety of examination questions 
  • End of unit assessments, using timed past examination questions 

Term 2

Topics

Influence of religious experience as an argument for the existence of God

Problem of evil and suffering

Situation Ethics

Natural Moral Law

Titles of Jesus in the synoptic gospels and selected ‘I am’ sayings in John

Anthology 3

Miracles and signs

Anthology 4

Interpreting the text

Assessment

  • A variety of examination questions
  • End of unit assessments, using timed past examination questions

Term 3

Topics

Theodicies and solutions to the problem of suffering

Analogy and Symbol

Verification and falsification debates

Anthology 2 and 3

Language games

War and peace

Sexual Ethics

The purpose and authorship of the Fourth Gospel

Ways of interpreting Scripture

Assessment

  • A variety of examination questions
  • End of unit assessments, using timed past examination questions
  • PPE (Pre Public Examinations)set of full past papers in time allocated by the board.

Year 13

Term 1

Topics

Context to critiques of religious belief and points for discussion

A comparison between a critic of religion, Bertrand Russell, and a religious believer, Frederick Copleston

Meta-ethics

The relationship between religion and morality

A comparison of the work of Immanuel Kant and Aristotle with regard to Deontology and Virtue Ethics respectively.

Anthology 2 and 3

Texts and interpretations – The Kingdom of God in Luke: parables of the kingdom and eschatology

Anthology 5

Why did Jesus have to die?

Anthology 6

The crucifixion and resurrection narratives in Luke’s Gospel

Anthology 7

Assessment

  • A variety of examination questions
  • End of unit assessments, using timed past examination questions

Term 2

Topics

Points for discussion about life after death

Religion and science debates and their significance for philosophy of religion

Issues in medical ethics with a focus on beginning and end of life debates

Anthology 4

Scientific and historical-critical challenges – faith and history: the death and resurrection of Jesus in modern scholarship

Anthology 8 and 9

How should we live?

Anthology 10

Assessment

  • A variety of examination questions
  • End of unit assessments, using timed past examination questions
  • PPE (Pre Public Examinations) a complete set of past papers

Term 3

Revision

Assessment

  • Past papers

Achieving outstanding outcomes in Religious Studiesknowing and remembering even more that what is expected of a grammar school KS5 curriculum. 

In KS5 we assess student against the core content and assessment objectives as outlined by the relevant A Level examination board specification.  For Religious Studies this is Pearson Edexcel Religious Studies 9RS0 Papers 1, 2, and 3.  To go beyond what is expected of a Religious Studies student at A Level and achieve outstanding outcomes in Religious Studies  students should engage with the essential reading, and some of the wide range of articles, books, and media clips that are suggested to them on the guide sheet given to them at the start of each unit.  They should also keep up to date with current affairs that are relevant to the topics that they are studying, such as current issues in warfare, medical ethics, and developments in the theory of knowledge.  They could also subscribe to and read the magazines: Philosophy Now, New Philosopher, The Tablet, and The Church Times. 

Recommended reading in Religious Studies for Sixth Form

  • See lists and articles in the shared one drive
  • Books on relevant ethical, philosophical, and New Testament issues

Philosophy and Ethics  

  • Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder – a novel about the history of philosophy. Sophie’s introduction to philosophy throws up some big questions and leads her deep into the mystery of her own life and identity. An entertaining book which stimulates ideas.   
  • The Puzzle of… – Peter Vardy – this series of non-fiction books is about issues in religion and philosophy, very readable and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy them. You can dip in and out of different chapters rather than having to start at the beginning and work through to the end.   
  • The Sage Train Philosophy comes to Life – Nick Hansell   A brilliant introduction to Philosophy, which includes the lives and work of many of the philosophers we will be studying.  
  • The pig that wants to be eaten – Julian Baggini  

New Testament  

  • Zealot – Reza Aslan  a radical re-interpretation of the life and work of Jesus  
  • The World of the Bible – John Drane  A historical exploration of the world of both the New and Old Testament showing the forces and events that shaped the texts  
  • How the Bible came to be – john Barton  an exploration of the creation of the texts you will be studying.  

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Upper School (Years 12 – 13)

  • See extension work in the one drive
  • The Philosophy Man – thephilosophyman.com this website gives you lots of different ideas to think about. Some are for younger children but you could try the ‘brainsqueezers’. These are good if you don’t have too much time, or if you’re finding it difficult to settle to anything more concentrated.   
  • Philosophers Magazine – philosophersmag.com Try the games on this website, and read the commentaries that go with them. Lots to think about!     
  • TED talks – plenty to stimulate your questioning and reasoning skills:   

            Dan Gilbert – why we make bad decisions  

            Richard Dawkins – militant atheism Chimamanda   

            Damon Horowitz – Philosophy in prison   

            A J Jacobs – My year of living Biblically  

            Malcolm Gladwell – The Unheard Story of David and Goliath  

  • Crash Course Philosophy – a great series of short videos