In the Religion, Philosophy and Ethics department at Gresham’s Prep our main aims are as follows:
- to broaden pupils’ understanding of the major world religions and some key philosophical and ethical concepts;
- to develop pupils’ understanding of religious influence in modern day society and in history;
- to stimulate pupils interest in religion, ethics and philosophy as an academic subject;
- to encourage pupils to form, justify and express their opinions both orally and on paper and also
- to challenge pupils to be able to see the world from a variety of different standpoints.
To achieve this we approach Religion, Philosophy and Ethics topics from multiple standpoints. In Year 3-5 as well as building pupils’ knowledge of the facts, ideas and issues behind the religions we also enable them to explore how religion can inspire people to behave in certain ways by looking at people of faith who have, in some way, changed the world; for example, Martin Luther King, Malala, Ghandi and others.
In Year 6 pupils explore rules and responsibilities as well as looking at the relationship between science and religion through the creation stories. The environment is the topic which sees pupils start to understand ethics in both a religious and secular context.
In Years 7 and 8, biblical texts are unpicked and analysed both in the context in which they were written and in terms of their modern relevance and meaning. In Year 7, questions such as ‘Is it ever right to take a life’ are explored as well as the whole concept of animal rights. Philosophy is introduced explicitly using utilitarianism as the starting point. In Year 8, Christian ethics form the backbone of the curriculum and pupils also start to explore some of the philosophical arguments for the existents of God.
A close eye is kept on current events where there is an ethical or religious issue unfolding and pupils are encouraged to follow these up independently. In Religion, Philosophy and Ethics, pupils are encouraged to question and debate as much as possible in their lessons as a means of developing their basic analytical and expressive skills.
The broad nature of the topics covered (especially in respect of contemporary issues) means that all pupils, regardless of their ability or knowledge are able to enter into these debates.