Religious Studies and Citizenship at Stringer
RS Intent and Implementation Statements
Intent (KS3 and KS4)
The Religious Studies Department at Dorothy Stringer truly believes that the study of the religious aspect of humanity is essential in the understanding of humanity as a whole.
Religious Studies at Dorothy Stringer is concerned with the study from a phenomenological standpoint. It is therefore the function of the Department to help students understand and explore the phenomenon associated with religious belief and the practice and expression of that belief.
It is evident that most students who arrive at Dorothy Stringer in Year 7 have had limited exposure to Religious Education at their primary schools. With that in mind, we aim to lay a foundation early on for their comprehensive learning in Religious Studies throughout their time at Dorothy Stringer.
Religious Studies is guided by the Agreed Syllabus of Brighton and Hove, and the latest Syllabus was introduced into schools in March 2018. As such, the Department follows this syllabus to ensure that we "provide a high quality Religious Education curriculum that will make a significant contribution to the development of a cohesive and compassionate society" (Brighton & Hove City Council Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education, March 2018)
The Department is committed to developing the whole student to be a person with a range of skills and wholesome attitudes and therefore we provide students with the knowledge and understanding of other cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking. We endeavour to encourage all students to explore the big questions of life and existence in order to construct informed opinions and so that they are confident in articulating and expressing their own views. To that end, we create and promote opportunities for students to ask questions about the world and reflect on their own beliefs, values, and experiences. We are also skilled in nurturing young people who are confident in their own beliefs and values so that they can respect the religious and cultural traditions of others. It is not part of the Department's function to lead the students towards or away from any one thought-system or towards or away from none at all, save that of encouraging the students to be open to and to question ideas and to develop understanding of why people believe and act in the way that they do.
Throughout their courses in Religious Studies at Dorothy Stringer, students will be utilising skills such as discussion, analysis, and evaluation; fostering attitudes including empathy, open-mindedness, responsibility, and respect for others; and cultivating their own ethics and moral principles.
The students are blessed with having an experienced and collaborative team of teachers to teach and guide them who, with their varying backgrounds and specialisms, can help the students to develop as a sense of identity and belonging through self-awareness and reflection and for students to explore this sense of identity as local, national and global citizens.
Key Stage 3
The Department delivers 3 one-hour lessons a fortnight to all KS3 classes. In all three years of the Key Stage, we aim to expose students to a variety of religious and cultural ideas across the world. We also give a systematic approach (e.g. the study of Buddhism and Hinduism) as well as a thematic approach (e.g. festivals and the anthropological view of the rites of passage in religions and cultures) to the study of religions. We will scaffold learning so all students can access our content and use effective questioning to support this. We explore many social, moral, spiritual, and cultural themes and issues.
Across all topics and units of study, the Department supports the teaching of literacy by encouraging reading, the ability to interpret sacred texts and the use of subject specific vocabulary with increasing accuracy and fluency.
Due to varying levels of delivery of Religious Studies at KS2, we begin KS3 with an exploration of the prehistory of religious belief and practice, followed by building a foundation of key religious beliefs and stories:
Unit 1: The History of Religion (e.g. Palaeolithic* and Neolithic* beliefs and practices)
Unit 2: Stories and Myths (creation stories from around the world, Biblical creation story and the story of Noah's Ark*)
Unit 3: The nature and use of the Bible (e.g. basic content of the Bible, referencing)
Unit 4: Patriarchs (e.g. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses*)
Unit 5: A study of Hinduism (e.g. beliefs, deities, practices)
The content for this year takes a thematic approach and aims to consolidate and embed the knowledge and understanding established in Year 7:
Unit 1: The Rites of Passage* (birth, growing up and death)
Unit 2: Festivals* (Passover, Hanukkah and Advent and Christmas)
Unit 3: The Life of Jesus (birth, ministry*, parables, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus)
Unit 4: A study of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr*
[Unit 5: Sacred Places (e.g. places of worship, pilgrimage), if time]
In Year 9, the students start by looking at the nature of religion through a study of Smart's Seven Dimensions of Religion. Some aspects of these 7 Dimensions are then taken as themes across Year 9:
Unit 1: The Nature of Religion* (primary and secondary religion, Smart's 7 Dimensions)
Unit 2: Prayer and Worship (ritual, e.g. Salah*, aids to worship)
Unit 3: God and Humanity* (doctrine, e.g. beliefs about God, philosophical arguments about knowledge and for and against the existence of God)
Unit 4: Ethics* (e.g. ethical dilemmas and theories, abortion/euthanasia, animal rights)
Unit 5: Global Citizenship (global issues, e.g. environment, terrorism, human and child rights)
Unit 6: A study of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism (e.g. history of the Buddha, geographical spread of Buddhism, beliefs, practices, and Dalai Lama)
Throughout all units of work, we encourage students to question and challenge each other through debate and discussion in a safe and stimulating learning environment which allows them to express their views. We regularly provide immediate, verbal feedback and there are formal assessments at the end of most units (indicated above by *) which allow the students to have personal written feedback on strengths and be provided with areas for improvement. The formal assessments all incorporate knowledge, understanding and evaluation. Alongside the four formal assessments, each year also has two keyword tests to encourage progress in literacy and further enhance student knowledge. It is crucial to note that all the keywords are subject specific and many therefore are not in the English language (e.g. from Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit).
The units of work throughout the Key Stage embed and build upon prior knowledge and we often make links about overarching concepts in the subject. The Religious Studies Department naturally works well with the other Humanities subjects and there are elements in our curriculum which cause us to make links with the historical and geographical backgrounds of religion and culture. Additionally, there are some areas which couple with PSHE.
Key Stage 4
Religious Studies at Key Stage 4 is currently in a developmental and changing state as the Department shifts from compulsory full course GCSE and GCE courses to delivering Religious Studies as a GCSE Option and a non-examined Core Curriculum course for the whole cohort.
GCSE Year 11 2020-21
This is the final cohort studying the GCSE full course. We study the AQA Specification A in Religious Studies in which we cover the beliefs and practices of 2 religions, Christianity, and Islam, for one paper and four religious, philosophical, and ethical themes for a second examination. This is delivered in four one-hour lessons a fortnight.
The structure is to establish the foundation of knowledge and understanding by studying the beliefs of both religions from the outset, followed by two themes (currently Peace and Conflict and Crime and Punishment) in Year 10. In Year 11, we consolidate and build on students' knowledge and understanding about the beliefs by studying the practices of the 2 religions and finishing the course with the final two themes (currently Human Rights and Social Justice and Religion and Life).
Unit 1: Christian Beliefs (e.g. beliefs about God, creation, Jesus, and the afterlife)
Unit 2: Muslim Beliefs (e.g. beliefs about God, sources of authority, angels, and the afterlife)
Unit 3: Peace and Conflict (e.g. causes of war, religious attitudes to war, pacifism, WMD, protest and terrorism)
Unit 4: Crime and Punishment (e.g. laws and justice, types of punishment, theories of punishment, death penalty)
Unit 5: Muslim Practices (e.g. Five pillars of Islam, Jihad, festivals)
Unit 6: Christian Practices (e.g. types of prayer and worship, sacraments, festivals, Christianity in the world)
Unit 7: Human Rights and Social Justice (e.g. Human rights, wealth and poverty, racial and gender inequality)
Unit 8: Religion and Life (e.g. environment and animal rights, abortion, and euthanasia)
GCSE Option September 2020 onwards
This is the first group to study the GCSE full course as a GCSE Option. The Option Group will study the AQA Specification A in Religious Studies. It has already been decided that this group will study Christianity and Buddhism for the Beliefs and Practices on the Study of Religion paper. The second paper will be a choice of the 4 religious, philosophical, and ethical themes, and these are still to be determined as the students will possibly be offered the choice, with guidance. It is likely that the themes will include Peace and Conflict and Crime and Punishment. This will be delivered in five one-hour lessons a fortnight.
It is probable that the structure will be similar to how the GCSE course has run for the last few years. That is, to establish the foundation of knowledge and understanding by studying the beliefs of both religions from the outset, followed by two themes in Year 10. Then towards the end of Year 10 and at the start of Year 11, the students will consolidate their knowledge and understanding about the beliefs by studying the practices of the 2 religions and completing the course with the final two themes.
Unit 1: Beliefs in Buddhism
Unit 2: Beliefs in Christianity
Unit 3: Theme
Unit 4: Theme
Unit 5: Practices in Buddhism/Christianity
Unit 6: Practices in Christianity/Buddhism
Unit 7: Theme
Unit 8: Theme
GCE AS level Option until July 2021
Currently, there is the Option course to study the AS Level in Religious Studies. This has been delivered at Dorothy Stringer by the Religious Studies Department for over twenty years and the Department was the first school in the country to offer it to Key Stage 4 students. It has always been primarily an advanced course for more able students. The course as well as our delivery of it has undergone many manifestations in that time, however, we currently study the Edexcel Advanced Subsidiary level in Religious Studies which compromises of 3 units: The philosophy of Religion; the study of Ethics and the study of a religion. This course has been deceived in 5 one-hour lessons a fortnight.
Paper 1: Philosophy of Religion (Design argument; cosmological argument; ontological arguments; problem of evil and suffering; religious experience)
Paper 2: The Study of Ethics (Ethical theories, e.g. Utilitarianism, natural law and ethical applications, e.g. environmental ethics, inequality, and sexual ethics)
Paper 4: The Study of a Religion (this is a focused and in-depth study of Buddhism, including religious beliefs, values, and teachings; sources of wisdom and authority; and practices which shape and express religious identity)
In all three of the examined courses, we encourage students to question and challenge each other through debate and discussion and use effective and high order questioning to support this. Using the skills founded in Key Stage 3, we will further promote evaluation, reflection, scrutiny, and analysis throughout all GCSE and GCE courses. We aim to scaffold learning so all students can access our content and carry out regular recap activities to support recall and retention. We model high quality writing to support maximum progress in literacy skills for examination writing and employ a wide range of differentiated resources and activities and stimuli (e.g. group tasks, drama, documentaries, artwork).
During the GCSE and GCE courses, we assess formally with regular end of unit tests in order to assess the learning and reflect on student progress. The assessments are always based on the rubric of the examinations so that the students are prepared for their final and external assessments. Subsequently, we use this data to shape intervention and give students personal feedback on strengths and next steps towards their progress. Throughout the courses, we also help to develop the use of specialist vocabulary (English, Arabic and Sanskrit/Pali), and the ability to interpret sacred texts. Social, moral, spiritual, and cultural issues are explored in depth.
Additional skills, such as investigation, empathy, and the development of good listening skills as part of effective communication, are all highly beneficial for most courses at higher education and a good number of students go onto to study compatible subjects at colleges (e.g. philosophy, critical thinking, classics, sociology, psychology and where available, religious studies.
Core Curriculum (Ethical and Religious Studies) from September 2020
The Department is also at the primary stages of teaching a newly formulated course for all Key Stage 4 students starting in September 2020. This is a non-examined course and will be delivered in 2 one-hour lessons a fortnight. We have designed and created the topics for this course, which will cover many varied ethical and religious studies over two years. We also propose to internally assess students' skills, such as in investigation, empathy, debate, evaluation, and leadership for a Stringer Certificate of Learning which would be issued at the end of the course.
Despite this not being an examined course, the Department is still excited about this new area of our curriculum and eager to continue providing a focused and structured study in ethical and religious studies. Each unit of work is designed to fit in each half termly period of study.
Unit 1: Social Justice and Human Rights
Unit 2: Wealth and Poverty
Unit 3: Crime and Punishment
Unit 4: Technology and Ethics
Unit 5: Politics and Media
Unit 6: Inspirational People
Unit 1: Peace and Conflict
Unit 2: Life and Death
Unit 3: New Religions
Unit 4: Extremism