Religious Studies (Philosophy & Ethics)
At St Gabriel’s, we want pupils' understanding of religions and practices to go beyond the ability to recall facts. We want them to develop the skills which will enable them to analyse human practices and rituals; to order and understand the world around them; to construct reasoned responses to complex issues, and to challenge their own views and those of their peers.
We do this by encouraging collaboration and debate and delivering lessons through pupil-driven learning devices. This allows girls to also develop the skills of critical thinking, independent learning, problem-solving and communication.
The school has a unique relationship with Chithurst Buddhist Monastery in Hampshire. Each year a GCSE group are given the opportunity to visit and spend a day with the Sangha community. An experience which school groups are not normally offered.
Year 7-9 Religion: Philosophy & Ethics
Studying Religion, Philosophy & Ethics gives pupils the time and space to contemplate profound questions, the chance to be themselves and develop their own opinions. Pupils are introduced to the key constructs of the major world religions and learn to empathise and evaluate these ideas through vibrant class discussions. No belief system or moral stance will be presented as an absolute truth – all are presented equally as viable options, including atheist and humanist points of view. Through debates such as ‘Can a scientist believe in God?’ and ‘Does religion cause more harm than good?’, pupils come to realise that there is not always one right answer to life's big questions.
Challenge & Extension: Pupils may attend Debating Club, which allows them to think about a range of philosophical and moral questions that they may not encounter in their lessons. There is a specific reading list on the school's VLE. Extension tasks may take the form of reading articles, watching a documentary or answering questions to develop the pupils’ understanding of a topic.
Year 10-11 Religion: Philosophy & Ethics GCSE
Following a critical, thematic study of Buddhism and Christianity, pupils use the knowledge gained to address a range of philosophical and ethical questions which may include ‘What do religious believers think about the use of cloning?’ and ‘How can religious believers explain the problem of evil and suffering?’ Pupils develop their own opinions on these issues and learn to empathise with a religious viewpoint whilst considering academically the evidence within scripture. Through participation in vibrant discussions and group activities, pupils are challenged to stand in other people’s shoes and to explore different perspectives while defending their own point of view.
Challenge & Extension: Debating Club gives pupils the opportunity to think about a range of philosophical and moral questions that they may not encounter in their Religious Studies lessons. Access to an extension programme is available to all pupils, tasks may take the form of reading articles, watching a documentary, answering questions to develop a deeper understanding of a topic or external talks. Pupils are encouraged to attend the diverse range of talks that are given by external speakers. An example of a recent topic is: “Cloning, a moral question”, delivered by an embryologist from Manchester Fertility Clinic.