The Religion and Society Learning Zone is comprised of Religious Studies, Geography and History. These humanities subjects give students the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and understanding of a range of issues and themes encompassing spirituality and worship, sense of place and development and change and continuity through time.
The RS Curriculum is based on the Religious Education Curriculum Directory, (RECD), for Catholic Schools in England and Wales. As a Catholic School, RE is compulsory for all students. The curriculum aims to reflect the Academy Mission Statement, “to serve both the Catholic and the local community, welcoming all those who embrace its values and share its quest for excellence.”
The Key Stage 3 Religious Studies course is completed in two years, and follows The Way, The Truth and The Life series. In Year 7, pupils explore the nature of Religious Studies, and are introduced to Bible themes, including the importance of the Bible as a sacred book. This leads to a reflective study on prayer, during which students have opportunities to explore prayer in different forms. Students also carry out an in-depth study of the life of Jesus, including the parable and miracle stories, and concluding with the death and resurrection; learning the importance of these events for Christians. There is also a focus on the sacraments throughout this unit.
In Year 8 a main area of study is “Covenant” and “Prophecy” with particular reference to the Old Testament. Students look at creation stories and the environment before considering some key characters and stories in the Jewish scriptures. Students also focus on the foundations and growth of Christianity; learning about the martyrs and saints of the British Isles, the Reformation, and Christian denominations in Britain. Throughout Key Stage 3, students learn about various world religions, with an introduction to Islam in Year 7, and Judaism in Year 8, which forms an independent learning unit. They also explore the significance of different Christian festivals, such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter; which are complemented by the school’s liturgical celebrations.
At Key Stage 4, students will follow the AQA Specification A syllabus for the new GCSE. The course aims to ensure that students have a strong understanding of the central role of religion on British culture; and to promote a rigorous and inclusive study of religions and beliefs that is relevant and challenging for young people of all faiths and none. It consists of two components: Component 1 forms a study of two world religions; Christianity and Judaism. Students will gain an understanding of the beliefs, teachings and practices of both religions, and their basis in sources of wisdom and authority. Key areas of study will include the nature of God, worship and festivals. Component 2 will require a study of four ethical themes. For each theme, students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of both religious and non-religious beliefs and ethical attitudes to four key issues in contemporary British society: relationships and families; religion and life; peace and conflict; and human rights and social justice.
History students at Key Stage 3 study topics on British, European and World History from the 12th to the 20th Centuries. Students develop a range of skills; they learn how to talk and write about the reasons for and results of events in the past, they develop their ability to answer questions using sources and their understanding of how past events and people can be interpreted and represented in different ways.
At Key Stage 4, students follow the OCR GCSE syllabus: Explaining The Modern World. In Year 9 students complete a period study on International Relations 1918-2001 and a non- British depth study on The USA 1945-1974 focusing on Martin Luther King and the American Civil Rights Movement. In Year 10 students learn about Migration to Britain since c.1000 to c. 2000. This topic includes analysing key themes such as reasons for immigration, the experience and actions of immigrants, responses to immigration and the impact of immigration on Britain. Finally, in Year 11 students complete a British Depth Study on the Impact of Empire 1688-1730 and a study of The Urban Environment.
The GCSE syllabus is designed to encourage learners to develop and extend their knowledge and understanding of specified key events, periods and societies in local, British and wider World History; and of the wide diversity of human experience. Students also further develop the ability to critically analyse sources and to write explanations using supporting evidence.
There are a number of enrichment activities to support the History curriculum in both Key Stages. These include trips to: Hampton Court, Leeds Castle, World War One Battlefields in Belgium, The Imperial War Museum and The Royal Courts of Justice.
Geography at Key Stage 3 involves a wide range of study topics that encompass the physical and human world. Students in Year 7 will study topics such as ‘Our Planet’, Mapping’ and ‘Africa’. Fieldwork trips are organised to introduce the students to data collection methods and underpin the work in the classroom. In Year 8 students focus on themes such as ‘Plate tectonics, Earthquakes and Volcanoes’ and ‘Development’. Similarly, visits include an experience of an Earthquake at the Natural History Museum and a GCSE taster day looking at the location of industry at Thorpe Park.
At Key Stage 4, students will follow the OCR specification B syllabus for the new GCSE. This comprises of two themes over the course; ‘Unit 1: Our Natural World’ and ‘Unit 2: People and Society’. Themes studied address the UK in the 21st Century; economic issues and the impact that these may have on countries at differing levels of economic development; urban futures; distinctive landscapes with particular reference to coasts and rivers; climate change; ecosystems focusing on the Rainforest and Artic regions; and global hazards affecting people and the environment.
The GCSE specification in ‘Unit 3: Geographical Exploration’ requires the students to participate in two fieldwork opportunities over the course of their study; one human and one physical enquiry. Fieldwork is an integral study of Geography at GCSE level and field visits are arranged to support the delivery of Unit 3 on two occasions for students to collect data.
Year 10 Students in Wales on an activity based trip
To further enhance the learning within the classroom students have a wealth of opportunities to participate in enrichment activities. The department has a well-established volunteering scheme and students have participated in environmental related tasks, which have included wetland and heathland ecosystem work at Stave Hill Ecological Park, bracken clearance and hedge laying at Woodlands Farm and marshland/river regeneration at Foots Cray Meadows (River Cray). Similarly, there are opportunities to work with external agencies such as Action for Conservation, Citizens UK and Wide Horizons. Students from Year 10 this year won a national competition for a £10,000 activity-based trip to Wales.