Religious Education is important in helping students to think logically and critically, communicate effectively and understand something about how the world works. Our students should have the necessary skills to function well in society and develop further in their adult life. It is their entitlement to have an “academically rigorous and rich study of religious and non-religious worldviews” (CORE report 2018).
In this non-examined course for students in KS4, we propose eight areas of study with six lessons in each area. Available time varies in schools for RE, although it should be sufficient to enable schools to fulfil their legal obligation (See Government Guidance on RE 2010). Six of these eight areas of study could be covered across KS4, the choice between them depending on the provision of a “broad and balanced curriculum” and the topics already covered at KS3.
Read the full rationale and overview of the non-examined course here:
Or read our unit summaries below for more information on course content.
Unit A – Community Cohesion
Key Question: Why is it beneficial for people to respect each other?
In this unit, students should engage with some of the issues facing individuals and groups within society today. Whilst we can see that there has been significant progress in terms of changes in the law in this country, we still find examples of people being ill-treated on the basis of their race, gender or other perceived difference. In fact, there has been an increase in the number of reported hate incidents over the last decade. This evidence makes the impact of Religious Studies lessons more important in raising questions, modelling good dialogue and opening minds to what is happening in the world.
Unit B – Believing in God
Key Question: Is there a God?
People have always questioned whether or not there is a God. This philosophical debate engages students in the qualities such a God might have and the evidence for and against the existence of such a being. Students should question their own understanding and position in the debate and learn why people of faith hold beliefs in a divine being. It is difficult to maintain belief in an all-loving, all-powerful God in the light of the existence of evil and suffering in the world; students should consider why this is, evidence of evil and suffering and the responses of Christians and others to this debate.
Unit C – Marriage and Family
Key Question: What is the purpose and value of “family” today?
Society today recognises many different types of family and it is interesting to explore why the basic family unit continues to be an essential aspect of human relationships. The teaching of Christianity, and other faiths, has centred on marriage and the family as being good for humankind and in this unit, students will study the practical, and changing, aspects of that guidance. Different approaches from the Churches on contraception and homosexuality are studied and evaluated. Teachers are reminded that this may be a very difficult subject for some students to discuss, depending on their personal situations.
Unit D – Crime and Punishment
Key Question: Why do we punish people?
It is generally seen that society functions better when there are systems of designating some behaviours right or wrong and that, for the benefit of all, there needs to be fair punishment to ensure a more peaceful, safe environment. In this unit, the consideration of why we punish people and how we punish them opens up debate about what constitutes just actions in today’s society. Christianity has a long history of relevant teaching on issues of crime and punishment, and what constitutes a healthy way of life which is considered in the material of this unit.
Unit E – Rights and Responsibilities
Key Question: How far are our rights as human beings upheld?
It is important that students consider the basis of morality in society today. For some, the rights and responsibilities we live by, are set down by God. Others see the guidance provided by moral philosophy as a sound basis for ethical living, which may or may not link to religious principles. Students should be aware of the way in which rights are being violated on a daily basis in the world today and consider how organisations, such as Amnesty International, challenge that abuse.
Unit F – Life and Death Issues
Key Question: Why is life valuable?
Most religious people, and many others, are deeply concerned about decisions and procedures which affect life and death. All people have to face death at some point and their beliefs about the end of this life and the possibility of another one impacts on their whole approach to life and the treatment of others. These difficult questions may have a range of answers and opinions which students are curious to understand, argue and consider the implications on their own approaches to life and death.
Unit G – Peace and Conflict
Key Question: Does religion make people violent?
In the Bible, and other holy books, there are many calls to fight for God, be on the side of “right” and slaughter any and all who oppose your cause. Students today have many different opinions of the need to fight and certainly they regularly encounter messages of peace, tolerance and understanding. In this unit, students should consider the reasons behind the calls to fight, why many have followed them and the conscientious objectors who have not.
Unit H – Environmental and Medical Issues
Key Question: Are we messing up nature?
This topic is well-addressed in a variety of ways in the school curriculum, particularly in science and Geography. The approach of RE should build on this background knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm of the students. They should consider how concern and care for our natural environment goes all the way back to Genesis, the beginning, and that the first responsibility for humankind is to look after the world. The implications from this follow on in our debate how ethical it is to intervene in the natural order of things, in terms of some medical issues.