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Shenley Brook End School

Shenley Brook End School

Religion, Philosophy and Ethics


We study RE to provide students with a greater understanding of the world which they are part of.  We do this by learning about the religious, philosophical and ethical dimensions of a range of topics and themes.  By doing so, all students will develop a range of skills that will enable them to be critical thinkers and be able to reflect and relate what they learn to their own lives and the lives of people within their communities.

Religious Education (‘Religious Studies’ at Key Stage 4 and 5) seeks to contribute to a wholistic understanding of the human person. At Shenley Brook End School RE is not about teaching a person to be religious, our syllabi are designed around investigating the religious, that is, the person, the beliefs, the practice and the implications and impact of these on the individual, the community and the world. The Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development of an individual starts by looking within in order to better look out. If students can understand where they stand with their spiritual beliefs and moral values in an ever-developing world, this will help prepare them to become true global citizens.    

The Team/Facilities

Lead Teacher for RPE – Mr B Essah

RPE Teachers - Mr R Tester

The RE department is based within a suite of eleven Humanities’ classrooms on the first floor of the school.  Each teacher has their own laptop, and each classroom has a digital projector and students have access to ICT facilities.  Each classroom contains resource collections that form the basis of our Key Stage 3 and GCSE teaching.  All A Level students have access to various resources to enhance their learning further.

Key Stage 3

In Year 7 students start by investigating the key concepts of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics. By studying these we seek to clarify the difference, the purpose and the importance of these three concepts both in the past and today. From this foundation, students will continue to look at some of the main world religions, learning to compare and contrast these against each other.  They will also study non-religious approaches within the world and their own personal beliefs and values. Each religion is studied individually but cover similar themes within each unit. Throughout KS3 students will learn about Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. RPE is taught through one lesson per week.  Students will also begin to develop their ability to think philosophically and ethically to put religious and non-religious ideas into different contexts.

Key Stage 4

From Years 9 to 11 all students study a range of Religious, Philosophical and Ethical (RPE) themes that are designed to enable students to think for themselves about philosophical and moral issues from religious and non-religious viewpoints.  These themes are also designed to develop critical thinking skills such as analysis, debate, the application of reason and logic, combined with an understanding of how faith and belief interact with these.

RPE students in KS4 follow a non-examined syllabus of one lesson every two weeks.

Some of the units they will study include:

Believing in God

Looking at arguments for and against the existence of God, the role of religion with the home and society and the debate surrounding the existence of evil, suffering and free will.

Matters of Life and Death

Starting with the religious and non-religious acceptance of the sanctity of human life we look at the impact of this for abortion and euthanasia. We consider the concepts of heaven and hell and alternative beliefs in the afterlife and the affect this has on a person during their life.

Marriage and the Family

Society has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Are all these changes good? We look at the role of marriage today, the diversity of modern family groupings, the impact and debates surrounding divorce, the changing attitudes to sexuality and how both religion and society deal with these changes.

Religion, Human rights and Social justice

This unit looks at how a faith determines a religious response to the philosophical, moral and ethical issues of our time including human rights, ethical trading, our involvement in the democratic process and human cloning.

GCSE Option - Philosophical and Ethical Topics

We also study philosophical and ethical themes to broaden students understanding of the world they live in.  One topic uses the Truman Show to investigate ethical attitudes to our lives and the media, exploring topics relevant for today.

Some students may opt to take a GCSE in this subject. For the full GCSE we follow the AQA Religious Studies specification that asks students to understand four Religious, Philosophical and Ethical themes.  Within these themes students will explore a range of issues and consider both religious and non-religious views and beliefs.  They are then able to contrast these views with their own.  These topics include:

Peace and Conflict

Is religion the cause of more wars than it tries to end? Should religious people adopt a pacifist approach to conflict issues, or can there be such a thing as a ‘Just War’? Finally, can forgiveness and reconciliation overcome hate and conflict?

Crime and Punishment

What is the purpose and place of laws, justice and punishment in society? We challenge the viewpoint that religious people should simply ‘forgive and forget.’ What does it mean to say the God of Christianity, or the God of Islam is a ‘Just God’? Are the laws of the Bible and the Qur’an relevant today?

Religion and Life

How did the world begin? What do different religions believe about the origins of life?  How are these views challenged by science?  What is the value of human life?

Relationships and Families

Students will look at the nature of families and relationship and consider different areas such as marriage, divorce, sex, families and gender equalities.

Students will also study two religions in depth learning about the beliefs and teachings, and the way they practice the religion.  The two religions chosen to study are Christianity and Islam.

Sixth Form

Religious Studies is a popular choice at AS and A2.  Students are taught in mixed ability groups by specialist teachers for 11 x 60 minutes per fortnight. We follow the OCR specification opting for the Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics units and development of Christian thought.

Course Content

The syllabus is designed to give students a broad understanding of a range of philosophical and ethical theories from both a religious and secular understanding.  Students are then required to apply these theories to relevant issues in an informed and systematic manner.  Continuous assessment is carried out through research projects, essays, presentation and practice examination questions. 

Units of Study

There are three components to the AS and A Level

  1. Philosophy of Religion
  2. Religion and Ethics
  3. Developments in Christian thought

Each component is worth 33.3% of the final mark and each is assessed in a separate examination.