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In a world where religion is increasingly in the news for negative reasons, where 75% of people still claim to be ‘religious’, where young people live in an increasingly global community, where Ashford is becoming an increasingly multi-cultural and multi-faith town and where young people have more pressures and demands on them than ever before the need for a subject that helps them to understand themselves and the world around them is very important. This is where Religious Education fits into the school curriculum.
We have an REQM gold standard – national recognition for the quality of Religious Education teaching and support that we offer both students and teachers.
Our Approach to Supporting Religious Literacy
We want our students to develop religious literacy by –
- investigating religions and worldviews in a variety of experiences and approaches so they can explain and analyse beliefs and practices
- appreciating and appraising the nature, significance and impact of religious beliefs and practices and their influence on individuals and communities
- reflecting on and expressing their own ideas and the ideas of others with increasing discernment, creativity and clarity
- becoming increasingly able to respond to religions and worldviews in an informed, rational and insightful way.
- considering whether religious values and teachings can have anything to offer in today’s modern and fast-paced world to a non-religious individual or community about belonging, living together respectfully, meaning, purpose and truth
Religious Education should also promote spiritual, moral, social and cultural development through a structured and safe space to reflect, discuss, dialogue and debate.
With this in mind we are a pro-active department with a local and national reputation. One member of staff has been on the NATRE executive (the national body of RE teachers) and has been involved in national developments for the REC Religious Education curriculum review and new exam specifications. Within Kent we have links to SACRE and Canterbury Christ Church University and deliver training and support to other schools through the Ashford Teaching Alliance.
Head of Department
Miss E Pope
Miss C Bowen
Mrs C McCarthy
Mr P McLarney
Mrs C Poore
Mr R Swinney
Key Stage 3
The law requires that local authority Religious Education agreed syllabuses and Religious Education syllabuses used in academies that are not designated with a religious character ‘must reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain’. This means that Christianity will always be the religions given the most curriculum time.
Unlike other subjects in the curriculum Religious Education has its curriculum decided locally by SACRE. This means we can create a curriculum personalised for Highworth students.
In Year 7 and Year 8, the focus is on exploring big questions e.g. 'Does religion make the world a better place?', 'Do we need to prove the existence of God?' and 'What is good and what is challenging about being a religious teenager in the UK?'. Religions studied are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism alongside Humanist perspectives on these issues. The focus is on developing skills which will lead into GCSE.
For further information please click on this link here
In Year 9, students begin studying for a full course GCSE - for further information please see under Key Stage 4. Units studied overlap with content specified in the Kent Agreed Syllabus for Key Stage 3.
Assessment, Marking and Feedback
- Student work will be completed in the provided exercise book, on paper or in the form of display work.
- Assessed pieces of work are the culmination of a unit of work and will be marked in detail using a specific mark scheme. This is based on what is the expected standard for a student at this stage in Year7 or Year 8 to ensure they are ‘on track’ for a grade 6/7 or higher in their GCSE Religious Studies. Being awarded a 2 or 1 means a student is ‘on track’, being awarded a 3 means she is below expected standards.
- All students have a coloured A5 sheet in their books outlining the skills needed to be on track by the end of Year7 or Year 8. The specific mark scheme for each assessment picks up on these skills and applies them to each assessment.
- Work outside of this is marked at the discretion of the teacher using personalised comments or stamps.
- At times, independent or peer evaluation may be used to support and engage students in the assessment of their own work and the setting of future targets.
- The school Reward System will be applied as appropriate.
- Interim Reviews (IR) – GCSE Religious Studies requires a student to be equally good at both AO1 (knowledge & understanding) and AO2 (analysis & evaluation). A teacher’s professional judgement will be made combining both AO1 and AO2 skills to determine whether a student is secure at meeting the standard expected for GCSE M1/M2, is less secure M3, is still to reach the expected standard W or is exceeding the expected standard E and should be aiming for the highest grades.
Please click here for the Key Stage 3 assessment grids
Key Stage 4
All students should have the opportunity to study and sit an exam in Religious Studies*. It is an academic subject and highly valued by employers and universities. Highworth appreciates the value of the subject and all students sit a full course GCSE, consistently achieving some of the best results in the school.
We study the AQA Specification A Level Course. We are studying Christianity and Islam for paper 1 and four moral issues for paper 2 - relationships & families, religion and life, religion, crime and punishment and religion, human rights and social justice.
There is no coursework, just an end of course exam, consisting of 2 papers each lasting 1 hour 45 minutes.
* ‘The national curriculum in England: Framework document’, September 2013, p.4. See also ‘Religious Education in English Schools: Non-Statutory Guidance on RE’ 2010, the Education Reform Act 1988, DfEE Circular 1/94 and the REact syllabus)
Assessment, Marking and Feedback
- Students are responsible for maintaining and collating their notes in an orderly fashion. They are given an A4 exercise book to record their notes. A book check and review will be held regularly.
- The focus of marking at GCSE is on examination practice questions and learning the technique required for top quality answers. These can be set as homework, classwork or timed end of unit assessments. These are set regularly, marked and returned to the student with appropriate formative comments, targets and encouragement. The criteria established by the examination board may be used to form the comment made. Such marking will be completed within two weeks, if not before. Sometimes feedback will be verbal and given via the whole class or a small group if many students have the same area of weakness.
- Students have the opportunity to purchase detailed revision packs. At present we do not recommend the purchase of commercially published GCSE revision packs.
- The school Reward System will be applied as appropriate.
- Students deemed to be achieving consistently high standards or showing an excellent work ethos should be recommended to the Head of Department and a postcard can be sent home.
Please click here for the AQA GCSE Religious Studies specification A
A new specification is being studied for first examination in the Summer of 2018.
The course consists of 4 areas of study:
- Philosophy of Religion. Topics include: the existence of God; the problem of evil; religious experiences; miracles; and the soul.
- Ethics. Topics include: ethical theories of decision making; the application of ethical theories to decision making on issues e.g. abortion, free will & conscience.
- Religion – a study of Christianity. Topics include: considering sources of authority; key moral principles; issues of sexuality; science; secularisation; and religious pluralism.
- Dialogues between religion & philosophy and religion & ethics.
This is a 2 year course with no coursework. Students will be examined via 2 exam papers each lasting 3 hours at the end of Year 13.
Assessment and feedback
Students are responsible for maintaining and collating their notes in an orderly fashion. They will use lined or plain paper and secure ring binder files. Additional handouts will be collated within this file. A folder check and content review will be held regularly.
The focus of marking at A Level is on examination practice questions and learning the technique required for top quality answers. These can be set as homework, classwork or timed end of unit assessments. These are set regularly, marked and returned to the student with appropriate formative comments, targets and encouragement. The criteria established by the examination board may be used to form the comment made. Such marking will be completed within two weeks, if not before. Sometimes feedback will be verbal and given via the whole class, a small group, or individually, depending on the number of students with the same area of weakness.
Students have the opportunity to purchase detailed revision packs.
The school Reward System will be applied as appropriate.
Students who persistently fail to complete their class work and homework tasks in an orderly fashion, to the best of their ability and/or do not submit work in line within set deadline, will be given an Event. Should this approach be maintained, students will be reported to the Head of Department and compulsory ‘catch-up’ periods will be arranged.
Please click here for the AQA A Level Religious Studies specification
For exam success, it is better to be the tortoise than the hare!
Step 1 - We advise students to begin by learning the content through a revision method that works for them. Every student is different and students will have already had support and ideas to discover what this method is. Little and often, 20 minute chunks with a quick 5 minute break helps retention. Regular testing of facts is also helpful on a weekly basis.
Step 2 – Look at exam questions, model answers and writing frames. What do you need to be able to do to achieve your goal? If unsure please ask.
Step 3 – Plan answers to all exam questions, even the scary and difficult ones! This saves thinking time in the exam and boosts confidence that you understand the question and can write good answers. Share ideas with your teacher.
Step 4 – Practise answering questions under timed conditions. Your teacher will mark them for you.
We recommend the RE GCSE department written revision packs because they have the detail for grades 7 – 9 and are focussed on the topics for AQA exam specifications.
Revision packs are also available for A Level students.
The RE team run twice weekly lunchtime 'drop-in sessions' throughout the school year where students wanting extra help, some quiet time to study or to ask questions are welcome to attend.
As both GCSE and A Level are new specifications, limited past papers are available on the AQA website.
However, the department has written very detailed revision guides which contain large numbers of practice questions, based on exam board advice on new questions, and also model answers on how to answer and gain full marks. These will be available for students in Year 10 and Year 11.
Revision packs & resources are available to students studying A Level.
Useful external links
www.request.org.uk – good for Key Stage 3 and GCSE
www.truetube.co.uk – RE version of YouTube – young people create the resources on religion, ethics, PSHE, Citizenship & social issues etc. Key Stage 3 and GCSE
www.gcsepod.com – improving in quality & relevance. Currently off-line as resources are written for the new specifications. Reappearing from Sept 2017.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion - good for unusual & interesting articles for all year groups
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/ - old bit of the BBC website but great for factual information on the key religions & atheism
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/guide/ - old bit of the GCSE website but good for ethical issues for GCSE & A Level
www.ted.com/talks - short, powerful talks on issues affecting everyone. Good extension viewing for GCSE & A Level
http://www.philosophybites.libsyn.com/ - good for A Level students
http://www.philosopherkings.co.uk/ - written for the old A Level specifications & not for AQA this has some great resources but do remember to keep focussed on what your own exam spec needs!
Religious Studies is an academic and highly valued GCSE and A Level subject.
Some students go on to study a degree involving Philosophy, Religious Studies or Theology and their careers are varied – have a look at this piece of research to find out the most popular careers & it isn’t becoming a nun or a priest!
Many students use an RS qualification to show their skills to a potential employer or university course and because it makes them stand-out from the more usual A Level subjects. Highworth students with A Level RS have been accepted onto top Russell group university law and medicine courses, to study speech & language therapy, Biology, foreign languages or midwifery in recent years amongst the more usual entries of English, another Humanity, Sociology or Psychology. We also have a former student working for Deloitte in London training to become an accountant.
RS suits students looking for a career working with people in some capacity. The police and NHS value an RS qualification because it shows a potential recruit has empathy, an understanding of different cultures and beliefs in a multi-faith society and is articulate at communicating with other people. Others go on to work in PR and communications or project managing. Perhaps it is easier to think of a career an RS qualification would not be useful in!
Former Highworth students with RS as a qualification are doing a huge variety of careers from law, medicine, orology, social work, IT project managing to teaching/lecturing, midwifery, finance, PR and student counselling services. Please ask us if you would like to be put in contact with an alumni who has followed a career path you are considering.
A Level and GCSE Support Sessions run all year.
Please be aware there is also a Christian union – for more information please contact email@example.com
Trips and visits
Watch this space!
Sixth Form Enrichment Days
After a break the Sixth form RE enrichment days are coming back. Look out for the return of the SMILE campaign in the summer of 2020 with more plans currently under discussion.