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    Religious Studies

    “I think therefore I am” (“Cogito, ergo sum”)

    René Descartes

    Religious Studies is a key subject at DGGS because within the whole curriculum it integrates and informs all other knowledge.


    Miss S Robbins (Subject Leader)

    Mrs R. Easley

    Ms N. Hay


    We strive for our students to actively participate in the Religious Studies curriculum in order to be inspired and challenged, and to be equipped with the knowledge and skills required to answer fundamental questions about both the human condition and the world around them. The principal aim of Religious Studies is to engage students in systematic enquiry into significant human questions which religion and other worldviews address. This will enable our students to develop the understanding and skills needed to appreciate and appraise different responses to these questions, as well as develop responses of their own.



    The main objective of the department is to provide intellectually challenging, knowledge-rich lessons that effectively prepare our students for life in a culturally diverse modern world. Our department aims to promote an awareness of the usefulness of Religious Studies to everyday living, to encourage interest in the study of other people’s beliefs, and to promote mutual respect, empathy, appreciation and understanding across different cultures and communities.  Learning to express our own beliefs, foster self-awareness and to listen to the views of others is an important life skill and this is something the staff within our department have a passion for. Such skills and attributes are encouraged and developed through the delivery of high-quality lessons which, throughout the Key Stages, strike a balance between the three key disciplines of Religious Studies – theology, philosophy and social science. All members of the department share the conviction that Religious Studies helps empower and equip students for adult life, enabling them to make informed decisions both personally and in the wider community.

    Key Stage 3:  During this Key Stage, students are taught to reflect and understand the diversity of the world that they all share. Students are encouraged to be open-minded about the different ideas, values and beliefs that people hold in major world religions and to draw comparisons, understanding the differences, but also appreciating the similarities that we all share. Students are encouraged to form and to articulate their own opinions as well as develop listening skills in order to understand the unfamiliar. In each year group students study five topics, all designed to aid students in meeting the aims of Religious Studies and the Local Agreed Syllabus.

    Year 7: The first topic, entitled ‘Does God exist?’ affords an exciting opportunity for students to explore philosophical issues relating to theism, atheism and agnosticism, in addition to reflecting on, and refining their own beliefs.  Students then investigate a variety of creation stories from different cultures and consider a range of responses to these. In topic three, students study the youngest religion in the world today – Sikhism.  Students examine this religion and ask the questions: ‘What does it mean to be a Sikh?’, ‘How do Sikh teachings about equality impact on the lives of Sikhs today?’, and ‘What is good and what is challenging about being a Sikh in Britain today?’ The fourth topic is Christianity, in which students explore its rich 2000-year history from its beginnings in Palestine to the Great Schism and the Reformation. In the final topic for Year 7, students examine the radical nature of Jesus’ teachings. They study his teachings in greater depth asking key questions like ‘What is so radical about Jesus?’, ‘Why is Jesus inspiring to some people?’, ‘What would Jesus do?’, and ‘Can we live by the values of Jesus in the twenty-first century?’

    Year 8: In topic one, students study the world’s oldest living religion, Hinduism. Students explore the nature of the divine for Hindus, comparing the henotheistic nature of the faith to the monotheistic nature of religions previously studied. Students also study the nature of samsara, Hindu festivals and the similarities and differences that exist between Hindu worship and worship in other religious traditions. An especial opportunity is afforded to focus on the distinctive aspects of Nepalese Hinduism in topic two, recognising the diverse make-up of our own school community. In topic three, students explore the relationship between and compatibility of science and religion, exploring questions such as ‘When does life begin?’, ‘How do Christians respond to Darwin’s theory of evolution?’, and ‘How do religious believers respond to rapidly developing scientific developments in society?’ such as IVF and genetic engineering. The fourth topic of Year 8 topic focuses upon the study of Buddhism. Questions such as ‘Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy?’ ‘Does this religion help people to be good?’ ‘How do beliefs in Dharma, the Five Moral Precepts and the Noble Eightfold Path help Buddhists to care for others and the world?’ are all considered. The fifth and final topic of Year 8 considers the nature of suffering and whether or not there exist any good solutions is explored in topic four. The nature and origins of suffering are explored within this unit, as well as contemporary Christian and Buddhist responses.

    Year 9: The first three topics studied in Year 9 provide students with the opportunity to study and address the multiple forms of prejudice and discrimination that have existed in Britain and indeed the world at large throughout history, and the ways in which religious believers have responded to such issues. Topic one explores the field of feminist theology, providing students with the opportunity to examine the meaning and implications of Christian faith from the perspective of a commitment to justice for females. Topic two allows students to develop an understanding of what it means to be anti-racist in the 2020s, studying ground-breaking figures in the anti-racist movement such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, exploring the ways in which their respective religious beliefs inspired their activism. The unit continues to progress the pertinence of such figures in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement of today, considering questions such as ‘What can we learn from the statues of Edward Colston and John Wesley?’ and ‘What role can religion play in creating an anti-racist society?’ Topic three focuses upon the field of Black Theology and its critique of Western Christianity, exploring important theologians James Cone and Delores Williams, before applying the central tenets of Black Theology to the work of Robert Beckford in a contemporary UK context. The fourth topic of Year 9 provides an introduction to Islam, the second largest world religion. Students are able to explore some of the key misconceptions associated with the religion and reflect on the challenging issue of Islamophobia. This serves as a background to GCSE Religious Studies within which Islam is studied in detail alongside Christianity. Religion and War, topic five, explores the compatibility – or otherwise – of the teachings of several key world religions and the nature of war and conflict.

    Key Stage 4: At Key Stage 4, GCSE Religious Studies lessons build upon the solid foundations laid by the KS3 curriculum and provide a deeper understanding of the beliefs and practices of Christianity and Islam, as well as promoting religious literacy and the contemplation of ultimate questions. Students are able to reflect on and develop their own values, beliefs and attitudes in light of what they learn. Students study a range of relevant and contemporary ethical themes that promote British values and awareness of modern-world issues. Students will study the AQA GCSE in Religious Studies (Specification A), exploring the religious teachings and practices of Christianity and Islam and four philosophical and ethical themes: Christianity; Religion and Relationships and Families; The Existence of God and Revelation; Peace and Conflict and Crime and Punishment. Students are assessed on their knowledge of these units in two examination papers, each an hour and 45 minutes long. This GCSE is not only beneficial in providing students with rich knowledge of the world’s two largest religions, but also in developing their disciplinary literacy and ability to critically engage with the world around them.

    The core, non-examined Religious Studies curriculum in Key Stage 4 is delivered to all students and provides them with the opportunity to apply their knowledge of a range of religions and worldviews acquired during Key Stage 3 to a variety of contemporary religious, moral and social issues. Topics such as mindfulness and meditation; poverty and inequality; gender and sexuality; and extremism and radicalisation are explored, as well as a spectrum of religious responses to such issues.

    Key Stage 5: At A Level, students can opt to study the OCR A Level in Religious Studies which requires students to adopt an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of three papers: Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought, each equally weighted. The rich knowledge developed by students during Key Stages 3 and 4 supports students at this level of study, whilst the Key Stage 5 course remains distinct enough from its GCSE predecessor to challenge students and prepare them for the demands of higher education. Students are supported in developing their skills of critical analysis in order to construct balanced, informed arguments and responses to religious, philosophical and ethical ideas. The department also aims to challenge students to engage learners in developing an interest in Religious Studies which extends beyond the classroom and can be applied to the world around them. In order to achieve this, students engage in a variety of extracurricular opportunities, from attending a philosophy conference to debate relevant topics and meet schools from the local area; to attending talks and lectures delivered by academics from local universities.

    All sixth form students also engage with a core, non-examined Religious Studies curriculum, which provides them with the opportunity to engage in rigorous, informed debate and discussion about complex religious, social and moral issues each term. Key enquiry questions considered throughout the Key Stage include ‘Do we need Religion? What is its purpose?’, ‘Has modern medicine gone too far?’ and ‘What does Buddhism teach us about the nature of suffering? Is this relevant to 21st century society?Engagement with such thought-provoking questions both complements students’ learning in their examined subjects and prepares them for adult life in an increasingly complex and diverse modern world

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