We approach Religious Education at Appleby through beliefs and morality, thinking about issues that affect all of us, discussing these effects, then looking at how different religions also respond to these moral issues. The key religions we learn about are: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
In Years 7 & 8 students will learn the key beliefs of each of these six religions. However, their learning focuses on PSHCE-style themes, such as healthcare, death, inspiring people/heroes through their learning of Christianity, freedom, law & order, celebrity status when studying Islam, suffering and loss in Buddhism, and charity and racism whilst learning about Sikhism, all of which are studied in Year 7.
In Year 8 this style of learning continues with students reflecting on safety on the Internet whilst learning about avatars in Hinduism, mental health issues, self-belief, diet, puberty through their study of Judaism, followed by a term when students create their own society from scratch which helps them to work out what is vital in a thriving society and what issues there are in running one. Finally students briefly research why some people feel there is a god through the ideas of the Design and Cosmological Arguments and the Problems of Evil. We finish by looking at alternative beliefs on how to live through the ideas of Humanism and Utilitarianism.
For Years 9, 10 & 11, students follow a Religion and Morality course in which the focus is on a topic, where students look at the issues and attitudes surrounding the topic, then study the attitudes of the six main religions already studied. The topics are: Attitudes to Crime & Punishment, Attitudes to Drug Abuse, Attitudes to World Poverty, Attitudes to the Elderly & Death, Attitudes to Matters of Life (ie genetic engineering), and Attitudes to the Rich and Poor in British Society.
In all years, but particularly for Years 9, 10 & 11, students are expected to contribute to the many class discussions that will arise from the issues discussed. They are also expected to listen to, and respect, the views of others. By so doing, the school aims to teach students to respect different cultures and beliefs whilst maintaining their own identity. By focusing on morality, students get a greater understanding of the problems and issues that people face living in Britain, regardless of religious or ethnic background.
We no longer offer a GCSE course for Year 11 as we prefer to focus on issues that are more relevant to our students. Because we are not constricted by topics it also allows us to diverge and discuss issues that come up in the news, allowing students to respond to, and reflect on those issues.