In a world of shifting values, technology and beliefs it seems more important than ever to engage in critical analysis and evaluation of the question ‘What does it mean to be human?’ At Amery Hill we eagerly explore a variety of faiths and beliefs alongside religiousness and non-belief and we actively encourage students to consider their own values, beliefs experiences and thoughts in relation to other members of society. Religious Studies (RS) is all about interpreting religion in terms of human experience.
Students will develop a ‘skills toolkit’ through their RS journey at Amery Hill that reaches far beyond the five years that they spend here with us. These skills will enable students to successfully navigate our ever changing world and help them to make sense of the values that underpin our global society. As part of this students will learn to enquire into the nature of religious and non-religious belief and how belief impacts actions on a personal, local, national and global level. Students will develop skills in empathy, perspective, analysis, argument, evaluation, communication of ideas and philosophical and ethical thinking.
In Year 7 students begin their exploration of religious studies. They investigate some of the big questions that humans have been asking for thousands of years for example "Why is there human life?", "Is there a God?" "Why are there religions?" "Is there life after death?" To be able to think about these questions students will learn the necessary skills - they will learn to think critically, to evaluate, to empathise, to see things from different perspectives. Specific units are ‘The Island’; ‘Who is Jesus?’; ‘Symbolism and the Sacred’; ‘What the Buddha taught’; ‘Eastern Beliefs’.
In Year 8 students continue to develop their critical thinking skills, applying them to different areas. Students will consider concepts that they have looked at before, but from different perspectives. For example, why do people stereotype? What is sacred to Muslims and does it mean anything to you? Specific units are: ‘One billion people follow Islam, so what does it mean to be a Muslim?’; ‘Creation and the world we have created’; Injustice and the work of Christian Aid’; ‘Equality and Justice’ and a comparison between the approaches of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.
Year 9 study sees students think about and reflect on some philosophical questions in religion and life. The year begins by looking at the nature of belief followed by study of the nature and existence of God. Students will look at evidence and arguments for and against the existence of God. In particular the question ‘In a world where there is evil and suffering and goodness: Does God exist’? Students also study Judaism – “What is it to be Jewish?” which leads them into a major study of Identity and the Holocaust.
In the spring term students have a unit on ‘Inspirational People’ with a case study and independent enquiry task about Gandhi- the man and his vision. The summer term allows us to address a salient question: ‘Is religion changing and will it survive?’ Students explore a huge variety of beliefs not yet covered in our syllabus including new religious movements and cults in an effort to address this topical and relevant question.
Currently for students who opt to do GCSE Religious Studies the course begins in Year 10 with the first four topics in the unit titled ‘Religion and Life issues’. The topics are ‘Animal Rights’, War and Peace’, ‘Prejudice and Discrimination’ and ‘Early Life’. All these topics are linked to issues in the real world.
In Year 11 students will study ‘Religion and Morality’. The topics here are ‘Matters of Life – medical ethics, ‘Matters of Death’ – the main focus is on euthanasia, ‘Rich and Poor in Society and Crime & Punishment. All these topics are linked to real examples.