Religious Education / Philosophy

Religious Education / Philosophy: Vision Statement

Studying R.E will equip our students to function as a sensitive and knowledgeable member of society. Students will get to study a broad range of religions and Philosophical concepts as part of the R.E. curriculum. In the 21st century it is essential that students see beyond their individual circumstances to the global situation around them.

Religious Education / Philosophy: Design Rationale

How has the curriculum been designed? The R.E. curriculum has been designed to help students explore cultures and beliefs beyond their individual experiences. The R.E. curriculum offers a broad range of Religions and Themes for students to study. The curriculum in KS3 builds towards further study of the subject at KS4 and links to a diverse range of subjects at KS5 and beyond by mapping a sequence of modules that ensures that prior learning is built on and is reflected on throughout.

What are the Big Ideas?
We have chosen three ‘Big Ideas’ that thread through the entire R.E. curriculum.

These are:

  • Expressing
  • Believing
  • Living

Why have these big ideas been chosen?
These big ideas reflect the requirements of the Derbyshire Locally Agreed Syllabus. The big ideas are thematic and cover religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Judaism. The three big ideas are also designed to help students cover range of Philosophical thought linking to KS5 Philosophy.

Key Stage 3

Year 7

Religious Education

In Year 7 students will investigate all three of the Big Ideas through the following questions.

How do Sikhs express their faith?
Is death the end? Does it matter?
Does religion help people to be good?

Year 8

Religious Education

In Year 8 students will investigate all three of the Big Ideas through the following questions.

How can people express the spiritual through the arts?
Do we need to prove God’s existence?
Would the world be a better place without religion?

Year 9

Religious Education

In Year 9 students will investigate all three of the Big Ideas through the following questions.

How can people express the spiritual through the arts?
Why is there suffering? Are there any good solutions?
Should happiness be the purpose of life?

Key Stage 4

Year 10/Year 11

At KS3 students have R.E one hour a week in Year 9 they can then opt to do GCSE R.E which is taught over two/three hours a week. Those that do not opt for the GCSE still receive the statutory input of R.E through a course called social studies (GCSE students also receive this course). Social Studies consists of a carousel of activities each taking a third of the year Computing, PSHE and R.E.

The GCSE course follows the AQA Religious Studies A specification as part of this we study two religions Christianity (compulsory) and Islam (optional). We opted to teach Islam as the comparative religion because this suited the skills of our teaching staff of four all of whom have the necessary knowledge about Islam to teach it whereas this was not the case with the other optional religions e.g. Judaism. Many misconceptions exist about Islam (this was identified through teaching elements of Islam in KS3) and our mainly white British cohort have little knowledge of it so therefore we felt it was important to cover this. Islam is also an important religion to study in terms of the socio-political climate of the UK currently. It also compliments the study of Christianity with some contrasting and overlapping beliefs and practices. There are 8 units of work in total and these are split evenly across Year 10 and 11 (four in each). Students start in Year 10 with Beliefs and Teachings in Christianity and Islam, these are both compulsory units and can be applied to the other units of work studied in Year 10 and 11, this is why they are covered first. Students start in Year 11 with Practices in Christianity and Islam, again these units are both compulsory. Students study two optional units in Year 10 and Year 11, Relationships and Families, Religion, Peace and Conflict, Religion and Life, Crime and Punishment. The optional units are less content driven than the compulsory units and so we give student time to embed the knowledge from the compulsory units during the optional units rather than covering all the compulsory units at once. The optional units were chosen because they seemed the most relevant and interesting also examiner feedback seemed to suggest that students performed best on these units.

More information on the GCSE specification can be found here:

Key Stage 5

Year 12/Year 13


Philosophy is within the humanities department at DHFS and builds upon some of the skills they will have gained from KS3 and KS4 RE lessons. From looking at themes and ultimate questions within RE, students will have developed some philosophical reasoning skills already. At A level this is something that is rapidly built upon. Whilst students who take philosophy often study other humanities subjects alongside it, we also have a significant number of students who study it alongside science or maths. These students often report that the use of logic and analysis is complementary.

We picked AQA philosophy rather than any other exam board since it was the only exam board that offers straight philosophy. All other exam boards offer philosophy alongside something else. As all subject teachers have a degree in philosophy we were keen that students should also have the opportunity to explore the breath of the subject and a variety of philosophical ideas, rather than narrowing it to looking at in in a solely religious or ethical context. The AQA specification also is highly challenging and offers academic rigour so ensures very high expectations of our students and encourages them to be stretched and challenged sufficiently. As many of the topics they study are similar to a first year undergraduate programme at degree level we believed that this best prepares them for any further study. Also the exam structure of having short answers combined with longer essay questions allows it to be accessible to all students and gives differentiation.

Within the course students study four branches of philosophy in detail. In the first year introductory topics are presented which allow students to learn the fundamentals of philosophy. Epistemology (the study of knowledge) fosters in students the logical approach needed to interpret philosophical arguments and provide the crucial elements of what traditional philosophy is. Ethics allows students to see philosophy at work in the world today. Studying ethical theories and then applying them to real world situations creates a perfect platform for students to explore the discipline. In the second year the metaphysical element ensure that it becomes progressively harder. Here students look at psychology and religion but really tackle fundamental questions such as ‘What is meant by God’ and ‘What is the mind’. These topics are increasingly abstract and allow students to see the development of philosophy over time.

Year 12/13 Debate Club

This club is open to all Year 12 and Year 13 students however is particularly useful for those studying Philosophy. It is run at lunchtime and students debate subjects of their choosing under staff supervision.

Teaching staff

  • Miss R Burgoyne
  • Miss J Burks
  • Ms E McPhee
  • Miss H Windle

Websites to help students learn about Religious Education

BBC Bitesize

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