Philosophy, Religion and Ethics
Head of Department – Mr D Shoker
Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact in PRE
Introduction to subject
Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE) is a broad subject that covers a wide range of topics that span the globe, religions and history. Philosophy is the study of knowledge, an ancient discipline that still impacts the world today. Religion has always had a major presence in the world, and continues to shape and influence the way our society works. Finally, Ethics is the study of right and wrong – and is applied to all areas of life.
Why is the study of PRE important?
PRE is perhaps one of the most current and up to date subjects in the curriculum, despite Philosophy and Religion being age-old academic subjects. From KS3 to KS5, the PRE curriculum promotes academic rigour and intellectual curiosity. The curriculum ranges from the study of religions, to supporting the personal development of our students. We cover major world traditions, contemporary issues, and ask probing questions.
How does the study of PRE develop your skills, knowledge and understanding?
PRE Skills: Critical thinking and evaluation are at the forefront of our curriculum. Lessons and assessments promote wider thinking to challenge and engage students.
PRE Knowledge: Students will learn about the major world traditions, learn about key philosophers and their contribution to ancient and modern scholarship, and the issues that are present in the world we live in.
PRE Understanding: Students will develop a wider understanding of the world around them and how we fit into it.
How are students assessed in PRE?
Key Stage 3 and 4
AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of religion and beliefs including:
-beliefs, practices and sources of authority
-influence on individuals, communities and societies
-similarities and differences within and/or between religions and beliefs.
AO2: Analyse and evaluate aspects of religion and belief, including their significance and influence.
Key Stage 5
AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the core concepts and methods of philosophy, including through the use of philosophical analysis.
AO2: Analyse and evaluate philosophical arguments to form reasoned judgements.
What does the curriculum plan for PRE look like?
In Years 7 and 8 students study a range of topics that cover all aspects of Philosophy, Religion and Ethics.
In Year 9, students cover content taken from the GCSE specification to give them a wider range of options when it comes to sitting the exam in Year 11. The two topics are Human Rights and Social Justice, and Religion, Crime and Punishment.
At GCSE, the PRE department delivers the AQA Religious Studies A specification.
At A-level, the PRE department delivers the AQA Philosophy specification.
How does PRE support learning in other areas of the curriculum?
PRE links closely to a wide range of subjects. It naturally complements the study of other Humanities subjects – History, Sociology, Geography and Politics. The academic rigour found in the extended answers also supports the development of literacy and persuasive writing found in English. The pursuit of knowledge and philosophical enquiries also lends itself to the skills students develop in Science. Finally, the empathy and personal development aspects of the curriculum have overlaps with PSHCE.
The A-level Philosophy course is academically demanding, but given the nature of philosophical enquiry, it is a subject that enhances the study of a broad spectrum of subjects – from the sciences to Psychology, Music to Maths, Economics to English. In fact, many degree courses feature aspects of Philosophy in their curriculum.
How can students extend and deepen their knowledge in PRE?
Students can learn an awful lot from the people around them. The beauty of the subject is that the rich diversity around us can enhance the experience our students have. Keeping up with the news and current affairs will benefit all students in seeing the links between their studies and the world around them.
How does PRE link to the world of work?
PRE develops the skill of empathy (one of the THRIVE skills). Students are encouraged to think about multiple viewpoints in order to make a reasoned judgement. Employers like Apple have been open about how they value the skill of empathy and the ability for their employees to think for themselves – as the specific skills for the job can be developed and honed, but these transferable skills make employees more desirable.
As well as this, students have a deeper appreciation of the world around them that will enhance their experiences when they enter the world of work.
How does PRE link the three strands of our core values?
Learning for the Future
Outstanding Personal Achievements
Students are polite, considerate, and respectful of others during lessons including in debates and discussions. Students demonstrate honesty and empathy in classroom discussion.
Students are punctual to lessons and all lessons are well attended.
Students develop empathy when considering the beliefs of attitudes of others to evaluate a view.
British values are embedded within the PRE curriculum as we cover a wide range of religious and non-religious beliefs and attitudes.
Students take pride in their presentation and work is well presented.
Students demonstrate independence and take personal responsibility for their learning by completing individualised DIRT tasks and personalised targets from assessment feedback.
Cultural capital is emphasised. Students are engaged with lessons and extracurricular activities including revision sessions and debate club, which runs every week.
Students are aware of the diversity in our society, and the complex issues people face.
Students can communicate effectively using key concepts and terms in both their written work and classroom discussions.
Students reflect on their progress towards THRIVE-related skills like independence, resilience, problem solving, organisation and aiming high.
Students develop effective teamwork skills through collaborative tasks in lessons including group presentations.
Students understand the opportunities that a GCSE in Religious Studies and an A level in Philosophy can bring them – critical thinking, decision making, empathy and an awareness of the way the world works.
Students are constantly striving to improve and achieve the best grade possible. Interventions are provided on a personalised basis, reflecting the needs of the student.
Students are confident in understanding how the world works, the issues people face and how people respond to them. Students can articulate their own views on these issues.
Students feel confident in applying key concepts and terms to their written work and classroom discussions.
Students can apply their subject knowledge, at all key stages, to related academic subjects such as Geography and History.
Students show resilience through improving their skills of evaluation and analysis when completing increasingly complex questions.
Students can demonstrate independence and resilience by responding effectively to personalised feedback and targets.
In PRE we foster the shared language for learning in a number of ways across our curriculum. Retrieval practice is used with exam classes to recall prior learning related to the specification; often based on key terms, concepts or teachings. Our learning intentions are expressed using learning questions and SOLO outcomes. We use plenaries to assess the learning that has taken place; these can be based on exam questions, verbal responses, or paired discussion. To further monitor the progress made in lessons, questioning for understanding is used. Strategies like “think > pair > share” and “cold calling”, with questions bounced back to add depth where necessary. This approach will support the development of oracy skills.
Written feedback is a strength in PRE and Philosophy. During DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time), students have the opportunity to reflect on their progress, review feedback from the teacher, set themselves targets, and then respond to the feedback by completing “Future You”. This approach involves the teacher going through the assessment with students who are then tasked with writing down anything that their future selves might need to know – this could be about knowledge or skill/technique. They can even make a note of how they got full marks on a question.
Finally, THRIVE skills are referred to in PRE lessons and feature as part of our DIRT time reflections. This makes up part of our commitment to supporting the personal development of our students. As a subject, PRE provides students with the opportunity to ask questions about their world, find out more about how the world works, and challenge their own assumptions about others. Our team are skilled at facilitating challenging conversations and enabling students to feel safe. Topics that have come up include war, punishments for crime, sexuality, treatment of women and even topics like abortion and euthanasia. Taking part in these lessons develops empathy and compassion – two very valuable traits that employers regard highly.
PRE students often say that it is more than just studying for an exam – it is an experience. By the end of Year 9, all students have had a taste of GCSE content, and will have a better understanding of human rights issues, crime and punishment, and social justice concerns. Having also studied religions in a systematic way, students will have a broad understanding of the impact religion has had on society. Those who study PRE at GCSE have the freedom to explore issues fully – and they finish with both a grade and a greater understanding of how the world works. Finally, those who study A-level Philosophy will find their ideas about the world around them, and their own inner-world, being challenged. Wherever a student’s journey with the PRE department ends, they will have developed academic skills that will benefit them in the future: evaluating, justifying, and analysing are all transferable skills. Alongside the knowledge and development of empathy, our students go on to study a wide range of subjects at university, including Medicine, Law, History, Economics and Politics.