Introduction to Religious Studies

Religious Studies is central to life at Highfield. All children are given religious instruction, which includes a thorough grounding in Christian doctrine as an invaluable adjunct to our chapel worship. 

Objectives

The aim of the RS Department is to give the children a broad knowledge of the scriptures and to reinforce the strong Christian ethos of the school: kindness, tolerance and forgiveness which is at the heart of the values we wish all our children to embrace.

We seek to make the study of the subject informative, relevant and enjoyable. Whenever possible, current affairs are sensitively incorporated into the curriculum, to enable children to develop their awareness and understanding of the world around them.

Religious Studies at Common Entrance and scholarship level is extremely demanding and we endeavour to place emphasis on good written skills and an understanding and awareness of other beliefs and cultures, through a range of source materials and plenty of discussion. The skills needed for Common Entrance and Scholarship exams are incorporated in to Year 4 study but become a major factor in determining the curriculum from Year 6.

Curriculum

The Religious Studies syllabus is based on the requirements of the 13+ Common Entrance Exam and aims to give pupils a comprehensive knowledge of New and Old Testaments. It comprises biblical studies, contemporary issues and world religions.

The syllabus reflects the Christian traditions of the United Kingdom, while taking into account other principal religions represented in the United Kingdom. It therefore meets the requirements of the 1944 Education Act (section 28 where appropriate) and the 1966 Education Act (section 375).

The usual termly grades are awarded in RS, for effort and, in Years 7 and 8, for attainment, and there are regular examinations. Of particular note are the Year 7 and 8 exams in January and June and the Year 5-7 Summer exams. Year 8 sit the 13+ Common Entrance exam in the Summer Term. Some children may sit a Common Academic Scholarship paper, whilst other scholarship candidates are individually prepared for exams specific to their chosen school. Throughout the school year, formative assessment takes place. Children’s written work is marked for factual accuracy, clarity of expression and written presentation. In Year 7 and 8, books and folders are marked regularly depending on the length of each topic.

By the time Year 8 pupils sit their Common Entrance exams in June, the expectation is that the children:

• Know and understand the selected texts from both the Old and New Testament, as detailed on the CE syllabus.

• Show knowledge and appreciation of the history, culture, rituals and beliefs of other religions. (In Years 4-6, children explore Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism and the CE focus is on Islam and Christianity).

• Have the necessary skills to evaluate the role of biblical material in relation to contemporary issues (both ethical and theological).

• Express their opinions of biblical and contemporary issues with confidence, coherence and clarity, both orally and in written format.

Outside the classroom, Year 8 embark on a week-long trip to Normandy France in the Autumn term. The RS department play a vital role in presenting and dealing with the various social, cultural and religious issues raised during the visit. There is also a visit to Bayeux Cathedral and a quiz that is completed as part of the study of religious buildings in Christianity.

Religious Studies should be integral to all aspects of school life. St Peter's Chapel is at the centre of all our worship at Highfield. There is a short service on Tuesday and Friday mornings consisting of Bible reading, hymn and prayers.

Occasionally these are led by form groups, who also involve drama and sketches in their presentations. Annually Year 8 lead both our Service of Remembrance in November and a service for leaving pupils in June. They are given support and guidance when putting together these services.

There is also a regular service with a full choir on a Sunday evening for boarders and visiting parents. The main Sunday service is frequently host to a guest preacher, and in the past these have been local ministers, speakers from our associated senior schools, and representatives from charitable organisations. On other occasions the preacher is the Headmaster, the Deputy Headmaster or one of the other Highfield staff. The children are encouraged to lead and participate in these services; they may do readings or lead the congregation in sections of the service. The Chapel Choir regularly leads the singing of hymns.

Many children decide to be confirmed before they leave Highfield, with the preparation classes leading up to the service at Summer half-term. Christian values taught and reinforced in the School Chapel underpin the whole moral fabric of Highfield.

Elizabeth Smith is Head of RS. Other teachers of Religious Studies are Adrian Holland, Susanni Jameson and Christian Buchholdt.

Religious Studies Year Group Subject Summaries

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