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Religion, Philosophy & Ethics

The Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (RPE) Department at Beaconsfield High School is a thriving and successful Department, with outstanding examination results at both GCSE and A Level.

The subject is taught by experienced specialist teachers who aim to provide opportunities for young people to engage with relevant contemporary and challenging questions that impact on all of our lives; questions about faith, meaning and purpose, truth, existence, morality, equality and diversity.

RPE helps young people to be more informed about the beliefs, practices and wider questions of theists and atheists in our society and in cultures across the globe; thus encouraging students to have a better understanding of their own and others’ beliefs, which helps to enhance their views on Universal British values and a wider sense of community cohesion.  


 Religion, Philosophy and Ethics  - Curriculum Intent 

The Religion, Philosophy and Ethics curriculum seeks to develop students’ understanding and critical engagement on issues that are pertinent to understanding humanity and their own place within the world. The purpose of the curriculum is to cultivate student respect and empathy for a diverse society and for them to identify shared values, to develop their own understanding of identity-in-difference; to facilitate inclusion and recognition of need of each individual student.

The curriculum plan aims to equip students with the analytical skills to understand and reflect on the rationale that motivates the behaviour and viewpoints of others’ and to know how this impacts on practice. Through this critical reflection and evaluation, students will be given the opportunity to develop their own understanding and viewpoint, so they can formulate reasoned opinion/ argument and contend with controversial issues and truth-claims.

Through the consideration of Philosophical, Religious and Ethical concepts and ideas, we are introducing stimulating and challenging material to give students a thorough and rigorous grounding in each discipline. Additionally, to enable students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the key religious traditions in Britain and globally, through the breadth of material covered, to identify commonality between each one, encouraging lateral thought. The curriculum aims to deliver material, through a variety of strategies, that is differentiated to both support and stretch students in achieving their potential, according to their individual needs. Over the course of study, in accordance with the Bucks Agreed Syllabus, students will be given the opportunity to engage with Christianity and at least two other religions.

In order to prepare students for the key skills required at GCSE and A Level, the programme of study establishes a planned sequence of learning building blocks to support student development in Lower School. The acronym ABCDE is introduced in Lower School lessons to lend structure to discussion and evaluative essay responses; to give a developed explanation of one viewpoint, citing evidence to support that view, to consider the counterargument and the evidence for it and to reach an evaluative judgement as to which is the most cogent. The programme of study will enable a gradual acquisition of skills and knowledge to ensure each student consolidates both their understanding and the skill-set that is required to help them to set the firm foundation for their further studies.

Years 7, 8 and 9  

Year 7  

Year 7 students will follow an introductory unit on identity, including philosophical ideas about what it means to be human, including religious and non-religious views about the soul. They will discuss Sikhism, focussing on beliefs and practices and apply their knowledge to a group project about Sikhism in British society. The final term will be dedicated to an exploration of Humanism, as a comparison study to Sikhism. This will end with a topic on human rights and social justice.

Year 8 

Year 8 students will explore key Christian beliefs as a foundation to further study on the debate between scientific and religious beliefs about the origins of the universe and human life. The next unit of study will be an introduction to applied ethics, exploring a range of ethical response to issues such as animal rights, peace and conflict. They will have the opportunity to engage further in one area of ethical study as part of a group project. The final topic will enable students to engage philosophically with the question, are we free? 

Year 9 

Year 9 students will study Hindu beliefs and practices, with links to Hindu responses to ethical issues. The Problem of Evil will be their next unit of study, engaging in the philosophical challenges that the existence of evil brings to belief in an all loving God. Students will then follow a programme of study considering different academic ethical theory, evaluating each approach in light of a series of moral dilemmas. They will then apply their ethical knowledge, in greater depth, to the issue of crime and punishment, considering different approaches to punishment in accordance with culture and context. In their final term students will learn key beliefs and practices of Islam. Their final topic will explore different views on life after death, drawing on prior knowledge of key religions studied. 

Years 10 and 11  

At the end of Year 9, students can opt to do our full course GCSE. Our year 10 and 11 students are studying the AQA Religious Studies full course (linear). Year 10 based on Christianity and year 11 on Judaism. In both years we explore a variety of philosophical and moral such as evolution, death, terrorism, sex, justification of the existence of God.  

All Year 10 and 11 students, including those who take the GCSE course, also have one compulsory period every other week. The course is mainly based on discussion of specific topics such as contraception and sex, gender equality and diversity, environmental ethics and animal rights.