“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
Religious Studies deals with people and ideas, developing thinking skills which are needed for any academic subject. Pupils develop the ability to find information, use a variety of enquiring techniques, ask and consider challenging philosophical questions and empathize with alternative viewpoints. Religious Studies also provides an opportunity for pupils to explore their own beliefs and gain great understanding about the world we live in and the other people we share it with.
The Ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, considered the investigation of life’s most ultimate questions as a pastime worth dying for. As a teacher he was a maverick: he never asked his students to write a word but he did expect them to think deeply and question everything. His commitment to moving beyond superficial understanding, led to his pupils becoming the rebels of their day. Their refusal to accept laws without questioning them meant their mentor Socrates was considered a rabble-rouser. He was eventually charged with corruption and rebellion. Socrates ultimately considered the study of religion, philosophy and ethics worth dying for. He refused to compromise his belief in questions and as such, opted for a lethal hemlock poison, rather than imprisonment.
The study of RS at King Edward VI Handsworth is designed to encourage students to live the examined life. Students study a wide range of religious, scientific, and non-religious perspectives on some of life’s most fundamental questions. In RS classrooms, students will develop the questioning habit, as they explore such topics as the meaning of life, the nature of morality and the origin of the world. Whilst the RS department does not expect the same level of dedication as Socrates, it will expect students to open their minds to a range of views! It is only through the examination of a wide range of perspectives, that students will begin to be sure of their own views.
- Develop life-long learners with intellectual curiosity and a passion for understanding the world
- Develop deep thinkers who can confidently evaluate complex religious, moral and philosophical questions
- Develop an enquiring, critical and reflective approach to the study of religion
- Empower students to recognise the important and distinctive features of religious expression, and to recognise the diversity inherent in faith traditions
- Enhance their personal, social and cultural development, their understanding of different cultures locally, nationally and in the wider world and to contribute to social and community cohesion
- Recognise the holistic development of the child, encouraging them to reflect upon and express elements of our common humanity
- Empower all students to express their personal theology (or atheology!) in a developed way
Curriculum and Assessment Maps
- Dr E Clewlow (Head of Department)
- Mrs B Nock
- Miss C Berry (Deputy Head)
How can parents help?
- Discuss your own beliefs and reasons for these with your daughter. Ask questions about moral issues in the news (e.g. Is it ever right to forgive a murderer?)
- Help your daughter to self-assess her exercise book using the assessment booklet
- Visits to local places of worship and exhibitions.
- Television programmes on religious and ethical issues are popular. Encourage your daughter to watch programmes that discuss religious practice or belief, or moral issues. A useful source is often 4thought (3 minutes programme following the Channel 4 news).
- Encouraging your daughter to take advantage of the opportunities available at school.
RS helps us understand other people better, and helps us recognise, develop and express our own values and beliefs. This subject is useful for a variety of career options, in particular those that demand analytical and writing skills (e.g. journalism, law, politics) and the caring professions (e.g. medicine, social care)
RS is a well-respected GCSE and A Level option and an increasing number of our girls are going on to study Theology, Religion and/or Philosophy at University. At A Level RS works well alongside other Humanities, but is particularly popular alongside the sciences as it provides a good underpinning for Medicine due to compulsory Medical Ethics section. It also provides critical thinking and analytic skills that are well suited to careers in Law, Media and Politics.
Although RS is not a facilitating subject (as it is rarely a requirement for particular degree entry) The Russell Group’s ‘Informed Choices’ recognises it as a demanding and highly suitable preparation for university entrance. ‘There are some advanced level subjects, which provide suitable preparation for entry to university generally… Examples of such subjects include Economics, Religious Studies and Welsh.’ (Informed Choices)
20% of those who study PPE, 18% of those who study English and 13% of those who study History at Oxford have RS A Level. Philosophy graduates are popular candidates for a variety of high-powered professions – journalism, research, the civil service, politics, and law.
A recent Times poll revealed that the business world favours philosophy graduates above all others. Barristers or solicitors benefit from training in philosophy as they have been taught to examine and dissect arguments, even cabinet ministers find a philosophic training useful as they seek to master complex ‘briefs’ and to analyse opposing arguments.
What will I gain from a study of Theology?
- The opportunity to study a wide range of subjects using a variety of approaches
- Encounters with people from all faiths and none
- An ability to handle sensitive topics intelligently and with circumspection
- Critical skills and the ability to argue my case
- An appetite for the ‘search for wisdom’
- Integration of intellectual and personal formation
- Challenges to my own prejudices and assumptions
- An in-depth exploration of some of the most important questions I will ever ask
- An appreciation of complexity and paradox in the role of religion in society
Final words from our ex-Head Girl, now studying Medicine at University
‘So glad I took RS, in my other subjects I just learnt things, in RS I learnt how to think’
Opportunities out of lessons
The Religious Studies department runs a Varied Voices discussion group, where we welcome those of all faiths or none to debate current issues.
Students in year 10 are encouraged to enter the national ‘Spirited Arts’ competition, which involves creating a piece of art work from a choice of themes.
As part of the year 8 ‘Sacred Space’ module, students visit a variety of places of worship.
Since 2016, year 8 girls have participated in the Anne Frank Exhibition, which aims to teach year 7 students about the life and death of Anne Frank, and what we can learn from it..