The R&P Curriculum at CCGS
Our curriculum has been carefully developed to meet the needs of pupils at CCGS. It has two clear strands: religion and philosophy. For religion, we use two broad categories to help pupils organise their thinking: the Abrahamic and the Dharmic. In year 7 they study the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) with an extended focus on Christianity. In year 8 they study the Dharmic traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism) with an extended focus on Hinduism. Christianity and Hinduism then features prominently (though not exclusively) throughout, becoming the two religions studied in depth at GCSE. The focus on Christianity enables pupils to understand Britain’s cultural heritage and those who identify as Christian both here and abroad; it also supports their studies across the wider school curriculum in such areas as history, literature and art. The focus on Hinduism, as situated alongside the other Dharmic traditions, provides pupils with a truly global perspective on religion, particularly useful considering the rise of Asia in this century.
As well as offering this global perspective, our curriculum is also designed to give pupils a better understanding of the multicultural society that Britain is today. Increasingly, this involves an appreciation of non-religious worldviews such as atheism and humanism, something that is tackled specifically in year 8 and returned to frequently in later discussions. In fact, there is always a great deal of crossover and dialogue between the different elements of our curriculum. That is partly why certain philosophy units appear where they do. For instance, our exploration of a moral God as revealed in the Abrahamic faiths is followed in year 7 by looking at the moral philosophies of natural law and utilitarianism. In year 8 our investigation of the way in which Hindus and other Dharmic traditions understand reality and human existence is followed by the philosophy units of ‘Plato’s Cave’ and ‘Concepts of the self and afterlife’. Year 9 sees an even broader perspective taken with pupils learning about the ways in which religion and philosophy influence the modern world in terms of politics, ethics, literature and film. This prepares pupils well for further study in our subject if continued at GCSE and A level, but it also equips pupils with the knowledge and tools they need to make sense of the world around them.
Although the ‘substantive knowledge’ (what you learn) of religion and philosophy rightly drives our curriculum, it is important that pupils are taught what is termed the ‘disciplinary knowledge’ (the ways you learn) of the subject. In year 7 pupils look at the definitions of religion and philosophy and the different approaches they entail. From year 8 onwards, pupils consider a more refined set of approaches which includes philosophy but is supplemented by social science, theology and history. This provides the necessary tools for them to engage with the subject content as a whole. Finally, it is recognised that pupils bring to the classroom their own backgrounds and viewpoints. However, these are not static but are themselves affected and altered by their educational experiences. Indeed, it is expected that the substantive and disciplinary knowledge reflected upon throughout the key stages will continually inform what is called their ‘personal knowledge’. Therefore, our ambitious curriculum is not only designed to build pupils’ understanding of religion and philosophy, but it is also designed to help build an understanding of themselves.
Key Stage 3
Each pupil receives one hour per week of Religion and Philosophy in the lower school. These are the topics covered:
- What is religion? What is philosophy?
- The Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (extended focus on Christianity)
- Moral Philosophy: natural law and utilitarianism
- Further approaches: philosophy, social science, theology and history
- The rise of atheism and humanism
- The Dharmic traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism (extended focus on Hinduism)
- Plato’s Cave
- Concepts of the self and afterlife
- Religion and the modern world: fundamentalisms, hate crime, competing rights, Israel/Palestine
- Textual studies: Life of Pi and The Matrix
- The value of human and non-human life: abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, animal rights
Key Stage 4
In the upper school pupils can choose to study Religion and Philosophy at full GCSE level (AQA Religious Studies, specification A). The course is comprised of:
- Religion - We study Christianity and Hinduism in depth. There is one exam for this component which is 1 hour 45 minutes long. It is 50% of the GCSE.
- Philosophy ‘themes’ - We study ‘Relationships and Families’, ‘Religion and Life’, ‘Crime and Punishment’ and the ‘Existence of God and Revelation’. There is one exam for this component which is 1 hour 45 minutes long. It is 50% of the GCSE.
Key Stage 5
Our Religion and Philosophy A level (OCR) is split into three components: philosophy of religion, ethics and Christianity. These components equate to the three 2 hour exam papers that are of equal weighting taken at the end of the course.
Component 1: Philosophy of religion - Ancient philosophy (Plato and Aristotle); Soul, mind and body; Existence/non-existence of God; Philosophy of language; Religious experience; The problem of evil.
Component 2: Ethics - Normative theories (natural law, situation ethics, Kant, utilitarianism); Business ethics; Euthanasia; Meta-ethics; Conscience; Sexual ethics.
Component 3: Christianity - Augustine; Death and the afterlife; The person of Jesus; Moral principles and action; Religious pluralism; Gender and society; Secularisation.