We aim to:
- promote empathy with and understanding of faith perspectives
- examine the validity of religious truth claims
- allow pupils the opportunity for spiritual development
- enable pupils the opportunity to address the “big questions” concerning the purpose and value of human existence, the nature and role of moral codes and whether death is the end
Do I need to have a religious belief?
There is absolutely no reason for students of religion to be religious.
All that is asked is that pupils adopt an open mind and attempt to appreciate the subtleties, nuances and intellectually demanding nature of the concepts contained in religious beliefs and practices.
Religion and philosophy in the lower school
All pupils will learn about the major world religions in the course of their life studies lessons. The emphasis on Christianity, Islam and Judaism is deliberate and reflects the demographic amongst the school intake. Moral issues form a large part of class discussion and pupils are encouraged to appreciate the difficulties to be found in making value judgements, particularly regarding contemporary ethical issues.
Religion and philosophy further up the school
At GCSE the department follows the OCR specification B syllabus in philosophy and applied ethics. Pupils are required to sit for examinations, each lasting one hour. There is no coursework element to the GCSE.
This course enables pupils to examine fundamental questions concerning the nature of their existence and makes no assumption concerning faith background.
Indeed, the atheist’s position is welcomed as just as valid as that of the theist. What is demanded is an ability to construct well reasoned arguments to support your view and a willingness to challenge the often unthinking acceptance of the consensus.
In the fourth year, pupils focus on philosophical issues such as the nature of god, religion and science, good and evil and death and the afterlife. Pupils are encouraged to discuss and challenge conventional wisdom while developing their own skills of expression and evaluation.
In the fifth year, religious studies students examine ethical issues such as equality, medical ethics, human relationships, and peace and justice. This provides an opportunity to apply philosophical and religious teachings to a variety of ethical and contemporary issues, all of which have relevance in our everyday lives.
At A-level, the department offers religious studies, which again follows the OCR philosophy and ethics option, as well as philosophy which is taught as a distinct subject. Both courses allow pupils to consider a wide range of philosophical and ethical topics, ranging from war and euthanasia to the nature of the world around us.