The Religious Studies department works hard to engage students in some of life’s biggest questions such as ‘do we have a duty to look after the planet for future generations?’ ‘What happens after death?’ and ‘Should capital punishment be reintroduced to the UK?’ Students will produce pieces of art, drama and poetry, watch extracts from a wide range of film and television programmes and will work independently and collaboratively to complete a wide range of tasks. We encourage students to develop their learning outside of the classroom through independent homework tasks at KS3, such as being part of Plymouth-wide school events commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, taking part (and winning!) the national Spirited Arts competition and visiting Auschwitz.
In years 7 – 8 students explore beliefs from the six main world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism) concerning a wide variety of ethical and philosophical issues, including human rights and life after death before comparing them with their own. We use a wide range of teaching and learning techniques, including personalised project work, art, drama and a range of media. Students are introduced to the skills that they will need in order to become successful learners in Religious Studies. These two years are spent encouraging students to reflect on their own beliefs and opinions whilst challenging ideas that are being presented to them.
In Years 9 – 10 all students complete a GCSE in Religious Studies. We follow Eduqas Specification A, which requires students to complete three units. The first unit, ‘Philosophy and Ethics’ involves students examining a wide variety of issues including abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia from both religious and non-religious perspectives before coming to their own conclusion. The second unit ‘Christianity in Britain’ looks at the Christian religion and how it is practised in Britain including rites of passage, festivals and the various denominational responses to a variety of issues. The third unit ‘Judaism’ requires students to investigate one of the oldest religions in the world, focusing on it’s beliefs and practices and how events such as the Holocaust has changed both Jewish and non-Jewish views on the religion. The course is examined at the end of Year 10, over three examinations. The Philosophy and Ethics lasts for two hours, and both the Christianity and Judaism papers lasting an hour each.
At A’ level, the department offers one of the most popular A Level courses at Plympton Academy. Students study three units, the first of which is an investigation into the Buddhist religion focusing on how it has adapted to suit Western lifestyles and how elements of the religion such as mindfulness and meditation have become popular in the UK. The second unit focuses on Philosophy including the debates between Religion and Science, and a study of the work of Richard Dawkins, Sigmund Freud and Car Jung in relation to religion. The final unit looks at a variety of ethical issues including abortion, crime and punishment, euthanasia, immigration and nuclear weapons. Each unit is assessed via it’s own examination and students have progressed to a variety of university courses and apprenticeships including studying Law at Kings College, London; Photojournalism, English, Philosophy, Education and Accountancy.
“I really enjoyed the GCSE course and am very pleased with my GCSE result. I am now studying the AS Philosophy & Ethics course and am enjoying the wide variety of topics such as euthanasia, fundamentalism and cults and ethical theories.”
“I like the discussion and debates in my RS lessons. We have looked at war, abortion, euthanasia and will soon be looking at the death penalty. You feel that your teachers listen to you and your opinions count. The revision materials really prepare you for the exam and I am working above my target level.”
“I like the fact that you don’t really know what to expect in your lessons. We learn in such a wide variety of ways including watching film clips, using the internet, discussing ideas, using artefacts and completing art-based tasks. My teacher works really hard to make the lessons interesting and enjoyable.”
Meet the staff
- Mr Ian Hartley – Head of Religious Studies and Personal Development
- Miss Abbie Roberts - Religious Studies Teacher
- Miss Roisin Stark – Humanities Teacher
Religious Studies at GCSE and A’ level is seen as excellent preparation for many career choices (not just being a vicar!) including education, journalism, law, health care, the emergency services and armed forces. Some Students studying Philosophy & Ethics A’ level also study Maths, English, the Sciences, Psychology, Sociology, Art, Theatre Studies, Geography, History, Health & Social Care, Spanish and others. Previous A’ level students are now studying Maths, Art, Theatre Studies, Geography, Land Management, History and Religious Studies at university.
Learning Outside of the Classroom
We encourage students to continue their learning outside of the classroom. Working with the LRC, we have produced a reading list that will extend student’s knowledge and understanding of the work being carried out in the classroom. As part of the Collapsed Learning Days, we have taken students to a variety of places of worship in Plymouth including one of the oldest Synagogues in Western Europe and the Greek Orthodox Church. We have also taken students to explore ‘Jewish London’ and to the Imperial War Museum where they explored the Holocaust exhibition. Continuing with the Holocaust theme, we work with the Holocaust Educational Trust to bring survivors into school to speak to students and recently had the pleasure of listening to Joanna Millan who told her story of life in the concentration camps. Students following our A Level course also have the opportunity to apply for the Lessons from Auschwitz programme which involves a day visit to Poland and working with survivors and their descendants to plan workshops for students in schools about the Holocaust. We have also had visiting speakers from Animal Aid, Christian Aid and the Plymouth Centre for Faith and Cultural Diversity to talk to our students about a variety of issues.