Religious studies is a very popular and successful subject at Chigwell, with many students choosing it at GCSE and at A level. It is a genuinely thought-provoking subject. It is not exclusively for those who follow a particular faith and the course that we study does not seek to make the case for any particular religion. Students at Chigwell come from a diversity of faiths or may adhere to none. Our aim in religious studies is to introduce everyone taking part to the many major theological, philosophical, and ethical problems. Different religions, philosophies and ethical systems are found in every culture (and language), and our aim in the study of religions is to support and be part of a student’s preparation for entry into the adult world.
Years 7-9 At this stage of their studies, pupils reflect on the nature of faith and their own beliefs. They look at religious writings and explore how these writings are reflected in the beliefs and practices of a variety of religious traditions. Students are encouraged to reflect on and evaluate these for themselves and to consider how these beliefs and practices may relate to, or have an impact on their own lives.
Preparation for the skills they will need for GCSE level work begins in Year 9. The ethical issues surrounding prejudice and discrimination in society are looked at from the perspective of religious belief, historical and contemporary, and in the context of UK discrimination laws. Philosophical approaches and arguments are studied, looking specifically at arguments for the existence of God. Pupils are encouraged to reflect on the issues, the arguments and the solutions, with an emphasis on challenging their thinking and drawing their own conclusions.
The Learning Journey: IGCSE In Years 10 & 11, students commence their GCSE studies, building on the work begun in Year 9. The focus of these years is a depth and breadth study of some of the key ethical issues affecting society and religious responses to them, and a range of religious and philosophical arguments for the existence or non-existence of God.
The course covers a wide skills base, including critical analysis and evaluation, application and comparison, knowledge and understanding. The course culminates in a final examination at the end of the two years, with no course work component.
Religious studies is a well-established and widely-respected A-level course. Students will engage rigorously with a broad sweep of religious, philosophical and ethical topics, ranging from business studies to euthanasia, divergent ideas of personal identity to scientific and religious interpretations of the origins of the universe and human existence.
Student participation involves them in the lively and stimulating debate that these challenging and thought-provoking areas of study generate. They will be expected to give presentations based on independent reading and research of a variety of ancient and modern texts, commentators, theologians and philosophers. There will be opportunities for group work, whole class discussion and individual written practice aimed at promoting skill and confidence in writing A-level standard essays.
The course has an excellent record of success, and because the subject is well-respected by even the most prestigious universities many of our students go on to study a wide range of courses at top institutions.
Students wishing to go further with any areas of interest in the subject can carry out optional HPQ and EPQ qualifications. The internal Howard and Mitchell Essay Prize also gives sixth-form students the opportunity to delve more deeply and independently into any of the ethical and philosophical topics that they have found particularly interesting. The blending between other curriculum subjects, such as biology or psychology with Religious Studies provides opportunities for fresh and independent thinking.
For younger pupils there will be the opportunity to attend our departmental Philosophy for Children Club. These sessions will encourage creative thinking about the big questions in life through pupil-directed discussion.
Sixth-form students have the opportunity to join our out-of-school trips to one day philosophy and ethics conferences. Students may also get involved in the house debating competitions, putting their knowledge and understanding of controversial issues in at the heart of our subject to practical use. Younger students will go on search and identify expeditions to the local church with the aim of providing practical learning experiences outside the classroom.