Our curriculum aims to teach pupils about religion, in order that they can learn from it, so it may impact their lives. It is the intention of the RE Department to challenge the attitudes and tackle the stereotypes that result from a lack of diversity in our local community. We believe teaching our pupils about other faiths and humanising them, is key to this.
Our curriculum gives pupils the skills and knowledge needed for them to understand, interpret and develop in the world in which they live. The curriculum aims to develop our pupils into young adults with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith, the faith of other world beliefs, as well as an opportunity to develop and question their own faith and beliefs. Pupils need to understand the role and significance of religion in the modern world, the important beliefs and values that shape it; and the impact religion has on many people’s lives and especially on communities. Fundamental to this is the knowledge of core scripture and practices and the understanding of the variety of ways in which these have been interpreted by followers and the impact on the lives of individuals and on the world.
For a deep and rich learning curriculum to be effectivel we believe it should be characterised by the retention, of knowledge and skills through a range of strategies including interleaving, spacing and retrieval tasks which involves regularly revisiting key concepts and building on them through regular, low-stakes testing. As a result of pupils being encouraged to regularly retrieve their prior learning it becomes well established and builds their confidence.
The Religious Education curriculum equips pupils with a wealth of knowledge and understanding that relates to the bigger picture so that pupils can see the relevance of what they are learning. Our curriculum encourages deep thinking and questioning. Pupils will be challenged to reflect on their purpose in the world and the impact they can make on it by their exploration of world beliefs. All learners at Oldershaw will have the opportunity to develop their substantive and disciplinary knowledge of Christianity, other world faiths and topical issues. In line with the academic work of Christine Counsell, we believe that substantive and disciplinary knowledge are intertwined and thus, are taught as such, with pupils being taught the facts about specific religions or topical issues whilst also having the opportunity to implement skills of analysis, reasoning and arguing so their opinions are always effectively supported.
The Year 7 journey begins with a general introduction to the different world religions. Learners look at the six main world religion: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism. Learners examine the different components of a religion including such things as Holy Books, Places of Worship, Symbols and Rites of Passage. Learners then take a more indepth study of Christianity as this is the main religion of the UK, focusing on key Christian beliefs such as the Trinity, the Incarnation and key Christian Practices such as worship and baptism as a significant rite of passage. We then move on to a study of the Life of Jesus as the founder of Christianity. Beginning with Images of Jesus, learners gain an understanding of how different characteristics of Jesus are portrayed in art. They gain an understanding of the historical background at the time Jesus was born, the political and religious parties who were key players throughout the life of Jesus. Learners examine the teachings and miracles of Jesus and the significance of these for Christian believers. We end the year investigating two of the other world religions Buddhism and Judaism, beginning with the origins of each religion, key beliefs of each religion, their place of worship, key religious figures, as well as festivals and practices that are important to each religion.
The Year 8 journey begins with a study of Islam beginning with the origins of the religion, key beliefs, the place of worship, key religious figures, as well as festivals and practices that are important to Islam. In the second half term learners begin to develop a more philosophical approach to RE as they investigate Ultimate questions such as ‘Is there life after death?’, ‘Is it ever right to kill?’ and ‘Why is there evil in the world?’. Learners are encouraged to form reasoned opinions on different issues and to tolerate and understand views and opinions that are different from their own. We then move on to learn about Capital Punishment, a topic that brings with it a lot of controversy as learners evaluate the reasons for and against it. Learners examine cases from across the world, the historical position of Capital Punishment in the UK, different religious teachings about it and come to their own conclusions as to whether it is morally right or wrong. In the second half term learners look at the sensitive topic of abortion and address questions about the value of and sanctity of life. Learners will examine the many different circumstances women have for having abortions, the history or abortion in the UK and current debates around abortion as well as different religious teachings about it. We end the year with two more topics, firstly, a study of euthanasia. This allows learners to build upon skills of reasoning and formation of opinion and to engage in a search for meaning, value and purpose in life. Learners will gain an understanding of what euthanasia is, the legal status of euthanasia in the UK and around the world, they will investigate different cases of euthanasia, examine arguments for and against it and different religious teachings about it. In the second half of the term, learners undertake a study of Hinduism, beginning with the origins of the religion, key beliefs, the place of worship, important god and goddesses, as well as festivals and practices that are important to Hinduism.
The Year 9 journey begins with learning about the causes and effects of prejudice and discrimination. Learners will zone in on the topic of racial discrimination, examine some religious teachings about this and some cases of racial discrimination from the past. Learners will undertake a study of the life of Martin Luther King, the impact his work had on improving race relations in America and the lessons we can learn from his example. We then move on to a unit of work about Animal Rights. We examine the multitude of ways that animals are used in society, the responsibilities humans have towards them. We look at the arguments for and against animal experimentation and explore vegetarianism as an alternative to eating meat. We end the year with the topic Wealth, Poverty and Inequality. Learners will examine some of the factors that contribute towards a country being poor, the difference between absolute and relative poverty, how religious and non-religious organisations respond to the needs of the poor, and Christian and Muslim attitudes to money.
The Year 10 journey begins with the topic Christian Beliefs beginning with the nature of God and the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Learners examine the Christian Creation story alongside the scientific ideas of the theory of evolution and the Big Bang Theory. Other key beliefs that learners look at are the death and resurrection of Jesus, atonement, salvation and eschatology and the significance of these for Christian believers. Learners explore Christian beliefs about evil and suffering and will come to understand how Christians try to reconcile a belief in God in a world where there is evil and suffering. Learners will begin the topic of Marriage and the Family, initially looking at Christian teachings about the importance of marriage, Christian and Humanist attitudes towards marriage, cohabitation and sexual relationships. They will develop an understanding of the different types of families in 21st century society and Christian, atheist and Humanist responses to the importance and purpose of family. We then move on to the second half of the Marriage and Family unit in which learners will examine different Christian, atheist and Humanist attitudes towards the use of contraception. Learners will come to understand a range of Christian teachings on divorce and a range of views towards these teachings. We will conclude this unit by exploring different views about the roles of men and women within the family and learners will develop their understanding of gender prejudice and discrimination. In the second half of this term, learners are introduced to the topic Living the Christian Life in which they learn what it is to be a Christian and how their religion affects their daily life. Learners will explore the importance of worship for Christians, the importance, nature and purpose of prayer and examine Christian festivals of Easter and Christmas so that they gain an understanding of the importance of such festivals within their religious faith. Learners will study the importance of the role of a local church for the local Christian community and extend their understanding of the wider universal Christian community, the Church. We end the year with the topic, Matters of Life and Death, issues surrounding the beginning and end of life. These matters raise important moral questions and learners are able to share their own views and opinions on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, death and the after-life whilst gaining an understanding of Christian, atheist and Humanist views as well. Also covered are explanations of the origins and value of the universe and human life as well as Christian responses to environmental and animal rights issues. Students will see that different responses to all of these issues are dependent upon different moral codes and personal values which people live their lives by, according to their culture, background and personal experiences.
RE lessons at the Oldershaw School contribute to Cultural Capital in a number of ways:
• incorporating works of literature/art/music into lessons and resources – from a range of traditions.
• allowing pupils to see beyond their own cultural experiences.
• encouraging openness in sharing cultural experiences.
• challenging stereotypes.
• encouraging curiosity and enthusiasm for learning about culture and cultures.
• enriching the curriculum through encounters with a range of people.
• routine discussions about the etymology of vocabulary.
We recognise that there are six key areas of development that are interrelated and contribute to building a student’s Cultural Capital:
Nothing can be more important for our children’s education than ensuring they are supported to be the best they can be within our ever changing, diverse and eclectic society that ensures everyone has an equal opportunity to live, learn, and achieve.
Through the RE curriculum, at the Oldershaw School, we seek to take the lead in our students’ spiritual and moral development. The spiritual aspect is done in lessons through a curriculum that teaches the values of a range of world religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. In addition to gaining knowledge of these religions we focus on how these teachings and values impact lives which is something we follow through from KS3 into KS4 in a more in depth study of both Christianity and Islam.
With regards to the moral development of our students, the RE curriculum once again provides a wealth of ethical issues for students to consider and debate, from both a religious and non-religious viewpoint. The high expectations for behaviour for learning and consistent implementation of the school behaviour policy in RE lessons also adds value to their moral development.
As part of the Humanities Faculty RE also took a leading role in the school trip to Krakow in Poland which included a visit to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau. The last trip, just before Covid-19 saw us fly out on 27th January 2020, exactly 75 years after this notorious camp was liberated. Here we saw a number of survivors being interviewed on what was an historic day. The Poland trip also included a tour of Krakow itself seeing the beauty of the original architecture that unlike Warsaw, bombed heavily during World War Two, has survived, some from the Medieval Period. The trip concluded with another world class excursion as we visit the famous Salt Mines. Students also have the opportunity to visit religious places of worship, albeit in recent years, this has been virtual, due to Covid-19. This gives students an insight into a range of different religious worship and practices which are very much a part of our region’s culture.
The RE curriculum has enabled our learners to: