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Religious Education

Context

All students at The Junior & Senior School study Religious Education in KS3 (Year 7 to 9).

The students either follow Greek Orthodox RI lessons, which are taught in Greek and follow the local Ministry of Education requirements, or Comparative RE lessons which are taught in English and follow the Non-statutory guidance of the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and A Curriculum Framework for Religious Education in England (Religious Education Council 2013).

Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups. (UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26)

The Junior & Senior School recognises the education value of Religious Education in the school curriculum. We started teaching Religious Studies at GCSE level six years ago, both the full course and the short course, and this year we are offering Religious Studies at A level.

The Junior & Senior School also recognises the excellent contribution RE makes to Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development across the school.

Breadth of RE: The Junior & Senior School recognises that RE ‘must reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Cyprus & Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Cyprus & Great Britain’ (Education Act (1996 Section 375 (3)) Schools Standards and Framework Act (1998, Schedule 19, para 5). The breadth of RE is referred to in more detail in the section on ‘curriculum’ below.

Right of withdrawal: Parents (or students who are over 18) have the right to withdraw their children either partly or wholly from RE. Our approach to RE, however, has been constructed in the hope that parents will rarely, if ever, wish to exercise their right of withdrawal.

Those parents who wish to withdraw their child from RE lessons should inform the Headteacher in writing at their earliest convenience.

The Junior & Senior School recognises this right but is pleased that it is almost never used by parents and students.

Aims and purpose of RE

Purpose: At the Junior & Senior School, RE enables students to engage critically with significant ethical, philosophical and social issues in order to understand the world we live in more fully. Students learn about a wide range of religious beliefs and practices, including non-religious worldviews. They do this for the development of their knowledge, for their capacity to flourish in our diverse society, and for their growing understanding of their own identity and outlook. At the Junior & Senior School, students are encouraged to develop their own considered opinion, to articulate their views, and engage in productive dialogue and debate with others.

Aims: In order to fulfil this purpose, RE lessons are aimed at developing, with increasing depth and discernment, students’ knowledge and understanding of religious traditions and non-religious worldviews. Students will learn how religious identity influences people’s lives and will be encouraged to express their own considered opinions about the nature and value of religion on people and the planet. Students will develop the skills of listening, speaking and discussing, as well as those of enquiry, analysis and evaluation.

SMSC: Although all subjects in the curriculum and the school as a whole have an equal duty to promote students’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development, RE is particularly well placed to do this. RE develops students’ capacity for cultural understanding and moral enquiry particularly strongly, both through curriculum content and the personal characteristics required to participate in RE.

Community cohesion: RE plays a strong part in promoting community cohesion. In the RE classroom the values of tolerance, respect and openness are essential in all students in order to participate in RE.

Inclusion: RE, as all school subjects, adheres to a policy of inclusion. RE lessons and schemes of work are planned to ensure that all students can access high quality RE. To this end, teachers will monitor the success of their provision and differentiation, and employ specific strategies when necessary.

RE in the curriculum

RE is part of the Humanities Faculty. Key Stage 3 RE and GCSE Religious Studies is currently taught by Mrs Helen Kaccoufa BA, QTS (S) Religious Education. A level Religious Studies is currently taught by Mrs AM Theodorou and Mr P Philippou. RI is part of the Greek Department and is currently taught by Mr P Philippou.

Students who follow the Comparative RE program at The Senior School, gain a deep awareness of their own and others’ identities; they wrestle with the mysteries of life and the answers given by a wide variety of religions and beliefs; they develop a clear sense of what is of real value in world today. Through reflection on their own beliefs and values in the light of their learning, they grow in respect for themselves and others. Students encounter the transformative power of religions and beliefs in people’s lives – in Cyprus and in the wider world. They demonstrate curiosity about men and women of faith and commitment who have changed individual lives, society and culture. Through RE, they feel compelled to imagine and contribute to the creation of a better world for all.

“It is important for young people to acquire a better understanding of the role that religions play in today’s pluralistic world. The need for such education will continue to grow as different cultures and identities interact with each other through travel, commerce, media or migration. Although a deeper understanding of religions will not automatically lead to greater tolerance and respect, ignorance increases the likelihood of misunderstanding, stereotyping, and conflict.” (Toledo Guiding Principles for Teaching about Religions and Beliefs, 2007.)

In Religious Education at the Junior & Senior School, we look to encourage students to develop by giving them time to ask their own questions, and evaluate the different answers offered by faiths to the questions they are investigating. Lessons are challenging and encourage students to think about the religious experiences and concepts they have learned.

We also want RE students to develop the ability to understand reasons for beliefs and practices, be able to form their own, and justify them. Our lessons encourage the development and practice through discussion and debate.

In RE there are plenty of opportunities to ‘think, pair, share’ in groups of twos or threes. Also, students have more formal discussions in groups of fours and fives, where students might have to represent and argue for particular points of view or religious perspectives, using role play. Then, they are allowed to take a step back and review the arguments they have heard and evaluate whether their own thinking has changed. Lastly, we also want students to take the time to pause and reflect on the spiritual significance of the profound moral, theological and philosophical messages, answers, and truth claims they encounter in RE. This way, students can be supported on their journey of clarifying their own perspectives.  Providing opportunities for students to deepen their thinking and apply their learning about the religious beliefs and practices of others, encourages them to explore their own beliefs in the light of what they learn, whether they are religious or not, and how they impact on personal ethics.

Thinking skills

In RE students are expected to think in increasing depth about complex issues to do with faith, beliefs, ideas and motivation. Philosophical enquiry-based approaches such as mind-mapping help students to think creatively, analytically and critically; to listen to, evaluate and respond to the views and ideas of others; to give reasons for their opinions, make connections and hypothesise; to give both sides of an argument, evaluate and draw conclusions.

Assessment

In Key Stage 3, at the end of each unit there is a final assessment task which draws together students’ learning.

Time allocation:

For Key Stage 3 RE, there are two lessons over the 2-week timetable.

For Key Stage 4 RS, Full Course & Short Course receive six or seven lessons of RE per fortnight in Year 10 then seven or six lessons per fortnight in Year 11.

Time allocation for A Level RS will be according to the sixth-form policy.

Religions and worldviews

In Key Stage 3 The Junior & Senior School has selected the following religions and worldviews for focused study:

Year 7 – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, & non-religious worldviews

Year 8 – Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism

Year 9 – Students may choose which religions and worldviews they wish to focus on when studying philosophical and ethical themes, from: Atheism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Humanism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism.

In Key Stage 4 The Junior & Senior School follows AQA GCSE Religious Studies A, specification 8062:

Component 1 – Study of religions: Christian and Buddhist beliefs teachings and practices

Component 2 – Thematic studies: Religious, philosophical, and ethical studies:

  • Relationships and Families
  • Religion & life
  • Religion peace & conflict
  • Religion crime & punishment

In Key Stage 5 we follow AQA AS & A2 Religious Studies 7061 & 7062

AS 7061

Component 1: Philosophy of religion & ethics:

  • Arguments for the existence of God
  • Evil & suffering
  • Religious experience
  • Ethical theories
  • Issues of human life & death
  • Issues of animal life & death

Component 2: Study of religion – Christianity

  • Sources of wisdom and authority
  • God/gods/ultimate reality
  • Life after death
  • Key moral principles
  • Religious identity

A2 7062

Component 1:

Section A: Philosophy of religion

  • Arguments for the existence of God
  • Evil and suffering
  • Religious experience
  • Religious language
  • Miracles
  • Self and life after death.

Section B: Ethics and religion

  • Ethical theories
  • Issues of human life and death
  • Issues of animal life and death
  • Introduction to meta ethics
  • Free will and moral responsibility
  • Conscience
  • Bentham and Kant.

Component 2: Study of religion and Dialogues

Section A: Study of religion – Christianity

  • Sources of wisdom and authority
  • God/gods/ultimate reality
  • Self, death and the afterlife
  • Good conduct and key moral principles
  • Expression of religious identity
  • Religion, gender, and sexuality
  • Religion and science
  • Religion and secularisation
  • Religion and religious pluralism.

Section B: The dialogue between philosophy of religion and religion.

How religion is influenced by, and has an influence on philosophy of religion in relation to the issues studied.

Section C: The dialogue between ethical studies and religion.

How religion is influenced by, and has an influence on ethical studies in relation to the issues studied.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it
Aristotle