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          Balcarras

          Religious Education

          The Religious Education Department at Balcarras aims to produce religiously educated and aware pupils who also value truth, seek justice and honour, respect themselves and others and who care about British values and the world they live in. Our aim is to educate pupils so that they are interested in and can understand the religious beliefs, values and traditions of others whilst also being willing to assess their own beliefs against conflicting opinion. As a result of this, religious education helps our pupils build their sense of identity and belonging and allows them to explore world issues in a secure background. Moral and spiritual growth is at the heart of our teaching and pupils are encouraged to show that they are learning from world religions not just learning about world religions.

          The department is housed in 3 new purpose built classrooms that were opened in September 2014. The faculty has three dedicated teachers who deliver the course.

          Although religious education at Balcarras School explores aspects of Christianity and other core world religions including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism, we do not presuppose individual commitment. Indeed, we seek to make the content accessible to all pupils whether they belong to a religious tradition or not. In addition, while we are fully conscious of an increasingly diverse and changing society, we are keen to highlight the important role of family and community in religious belief and activity. The work of the department is underpinned by the recently updated Gloucestershire agreed syllabus for key stage three and key stage four and five follow the OCR religious education examinations.

          Key Stage 3

          Year 7 Religious Education focuses predominantly on Christianity, however, this is done through reference to the beliefs of the six major world religions as well as pupils own ideas.. The approach is first made through an investigation into the Philosophy behind religious belief itself. Pupils will be asked to question what God is, as well as consider their own beliefs on a number of subjects, for example miracles and life after death. Students then investigate the Bible as a source of guidance and authority for Christians and will become familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels. Then pupils focus on the teachings and methods of worship in the Christian Church and the role of local faith communities.

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          Pupils in Year 9 study the world religions of Islam and Judaism. This allows them to consider the religious beliefs behind these religions and how they compare to their own. This year involves much cross-curricular work with pupils comparing these religions to work they are completing in other subjects, such as History and Science well as media portrayals. Year 9 requires pupils to work in GCSE mode, where they will be asked to consider their opinions on issues and ask fundamental questions. Pupils have found this aspect of the course to be stimulating and throughout the course their confidence at expressing themselves in both discussion and written work is noticeable.

           Learning in the religious education department exhibits a wide range of valuable, desirable and sought-after personal skills and attributes. Through studying religious education pupils are able to demonstrate their ability with the skills of investigation, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, empathy, analysis, synthesis, expression, application of knowledge and discernment. These go hand in hand with open-mindedness and a sense of spirituality.

          GCSE

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          A Level

          We continue on from the GCSE course with OCR AS and A Level Theology, Philosophy and Ethics. This successful and popular courses give pupils the opportunity to examine big questions in life and to think about and reflect on the views of key thinkers, philosophers and theologians. There is much room for discussion, debate and investigation as we explore issues of right and wrong, life and death, and God amongst many others topics.

          Studying Philosophy and Ethics at A Level is both challenging and rewarding. Pupils are required to use a range of thinking skills to learn the theories and then apply them to a range of ethical dilemmas and situations. The course covers issues from war to euthanasia and enables pupils to mature both academically and emotionally. Religious Studies lessons are varied in their style, including many opportunities for individual learning alongside discussions. Pupils are encouraged to complete wider reading to will help their knowledge for these discussions and debates as well as bringing in their own thoughts and ideas.

          Trips

          Pupils studying religion in the department attend conferences and pay visits to places of religious importance. The department arranges a regular multi-cultural event where representatives from the major world religions come into school to work with pupils. We also run two residential trips in association with the History and Politics departments, to Berlin in year 10 and New York for Sixth Form pupils.

          'Philosophy and ethics is a thought-provoking subject. I have learnt how to analyse and listen to other points of view.’

          'Philosophy and Ethics provided a refreshing insight into thinking. The course improved my analysis and evaluation skills whilst teaching topics that could be applied in all of my other subjects.’

          'It is a subject that challenges you to ask, rather than answer.'

          'It is interesting to see different people’s beliefs and discuss my own.'

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