Religious Education

Acting Head of Faculty: Mr S Leonard
Teaching Staff: Miss J Edwards
Level of teaching: Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 5 at The New Sixth

Religious Education is certainly in some part, about the beliefs that people hold and the reasons for them. Beliefs stem from experience and give rise to a rich variety of practices and expressions. These expressions, which we may call religious, are of immense and central importance, for they give meaning, reality and purpose, to the lives that people live.

But Religious Education is also about the examination of self. ‘What is it to be human?’ What is it to be spiritual? It is about engaging with some of the big questions in life. ‘Why are we here?’ ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ ‘Is there a God who has a plan for me?’ Not all people are religious, but all could be termed ‘spiritual’, recognising that it is essentially human to inquire, to seek answers, to find meaning to who and what we are, and to what we do. Religions are responses to the spiritual and all may profit greatly from the study of them.

At St Mark’s, the reality of our experience is rooted in Jesus Christ. Therefore much of the RE offers an exploration of Christian teaching, its expressions, and celebrations. We are a community in faith that expresses that faith. In RE we also examine the religious faith of other religions, or none. The study of religion is current, relevant, and rooted in the reality of the modern world and its concerns. Units of study allow for the examination of British Values within wider religious values, and also within the ‘Religion and the Media’ unit, issues of ideological conflict and the potential radicalisation of religious views.

Students are invited to come to the study of religion with an open and enquiring mind. It is an exploratory journey, mindful and respectful of the beliefs of others and respectful of the students own beliefs. It is challenging, it is demanding, it is most of all a journey that can enrich the lives of all, whatever one’s own beliefs or background. Students speak positively of RE as a result.” It helps me to understand so much of myself and others” (Yr 7 Student)

The Religious Education programme at St Mark’s follows a syllabus derived from the B&NES Locally Agreed Syllabus ‘Awareness, Mystery and Value’ while taking account of the QCA non-statutory guidance in RE and the requirements of the school’s Anglican Foundation. In line with the school’s Mission and Educational foundation, the department works closely with the Chaplaincy, the LEA and SACRE, and also the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

For further information about this course, please email the Acting Head of Faculty, Mr S Leonard
or telephone him on 01225 312661.

Key Stage 3 (Years 7-8)

A variety of topics are studied during the key stage, including:

Year 7

Introduction to World Religions
How important are my beliefs?
Religious beliefs and modern day issues – ‘The Environment’
What do Hindus believe?
How is the experience of God expressed in holy writings?
Investigating Jesus
Are you calling me, God? Responses to the experience of God, vocation and ministry

Year 8

Sikhism, identity, promises, and lifestyle
How are beliefs about Jesus understood and expressed? – sacraments, art , festivals
Why are beliefs about Jesus understood and expressed differently? – denominations
Faith into Action – Church, Charities, famous figures and personalities
Prejudice and discrimination
Religion and young people in the modern world
Religion in the media

Key Stage 4 (Years 9-11)

Course Code: GCSE Religious Studies AAQA 8062
Exam Board Specification:

Students in Year 9 study ‘Christianity: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices’ and ‘Religion, Crime and Punishment’ (one of four ‘thematic studies’). This is taught over two 60 minute lessons per week. Students in Year 10 study Judaism: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices. This is taught over one 60 minute lesson per week. Students in Year 11 complete three ‘thematic studies’ – ‘Religion and Life’, ‘Religion, Peace and Conflict’and ‘Relationships & Families’

The four thematic studies cover a range of topical and moral issues from a Christian perspective.

Examination in the KS4 GCSE programme of study consists of two final, formal written examinations at the end of year 11. Each exam is 1 hour 45 minutes and each is 505 of the GCSE.

Exam 1 – Beliefs, Teachings and Practices of Christianity and Judaism
Exam 2 – Four Thematic studies – ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘Religion and Life’, ‘Peace, Conflict, War’, and ‘Relationships & Families’

GCSE performance has enjoyed good results for many years, exceeding national norms.

Year 9

Terms 1 & 2 – Christianity: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices
What is God like?
The Christian interpretation of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection
Sin and grace
What do Christians believe about the afterlife?

Terms 3 & 4 – Christianity: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices
Worship and prayer

Terms 5 & 6 – Thematic Study E: Religion, Crime and Punishment
Religion and rules
Types of crime
Causes of crime
Good and evil
The aims of punishment
Suffering and crime
Treatment of criminals and prison
Corporal and capital punishment

Year 10 – Judaism: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices; and Thematic Study D

Terms 1 & 2 
What is God like?
How have Jews experienced God?
What do Jews believe about the afterlife?
The nature and role of the Messiah

Terms 3 & 4 – Judaism: Beliefs, Teachings and Practices
The Torah, Talmud, and mitvot
Moral principles in Judaism
Worship at home and synagogue
Jewish family life, rituals, festivals, celebrations, and kosher

Terms 5 & 6 – Thematic Study D: Religion, Peace and Conflict
Forgiveness and reconciliation
Violence, terrorism and protest
Reasons for war
Holy war and just war
Victims of war
Weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons
Religion, war and peacekeeping
Peace and pacifism

Year 11 – Thematic Studies and revision

Terms 1 & 2 – Thematic Study B: Religion and Life
Creation and evolution
Are science and religion in conflict?
The environment
Do animals have rights?
Abortion and euthanasia
Is there an afterlife?

Terms 3 & 4 – Thematic Study A: Relationships and Families
Christian beliefs about sexual relationships, contraception and family planning
Marriage and family
Marriage ceremonies
Christian beliefs about cohabitation and same-sex marriage
Divorce and remarriage
Gender equality and gender prejudice

Terms 5 & 6 – Revision
Overview of course and exam
Revision and study techniques
Practice papers


Key Stage 5 (Years 12-13) taught at The New Sixth

Course Code: A Level Religious Studies Edexcel
Exam Board Specification:

Students who take this course:
Students should enjoy discussion, expressing their opinions and justifying their comments. They should want to develop their critical and analytical skills. This subject equips students with problem solving, communication and presentation skills and therefore is an excellent choice of subject for those thinking about Law, History, Education & Medicine. It is also ideal for students who want to keep their options open for further study. Students should have a minimum grade B in RE and grade 6 in English Literature.

However it is not always necessary to have studied GCSE RE and we will consider other applicants based on other Humanities and English grades.

This course will be an opportunity to study some fundamental questions which people have always asked about life including: How should we behave and act in society? What is the purpose of life? Can we prove God exists? Is there Life after Death? What is the value of scripture in contemporary society?

It will encourage you to deal with controversial ideas about belief and values and will give you the confidence to express yourself using reasoned argument and evidence. It will focus on using the writings of key scholars to explore differing viewpoints about the development of the ideas. It will develop transferable skills of informed discussion and engagement with a range of texts and opinions which are a valuable basis for progression to higher education.

Course Description:
There are three themes to be studied in this course with each area of study equating to a third of the overall course. Each theme will be examined in a separate paper.

AS and A Level students will, in Year 12, be taught together. Those wishing to only do it to AS Level will be examined at the end of Year 12. Those wishing to continue to A Level will sit their exams at the end of Year 13.

For more information on this A Level course, click here.

Enrichment and Links: