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Philosophy, Religion and Ethics Curriculum Intent: Understanding PRE Curriculum DREAM 

Purpose: This document sets out how Philosophy, Religion and Ethics approaches Curriculum Intent at Eaton Bank Academy. 

Design  How have you designed your curriculum to be broad, balanced and ambitious? 
Philosophy, Religion and Ethics does not have a National Curriculum but does have a locally agreed syllabus and some frameworks structured by OFSTED. Our curriculum draws on all three academic disciplines and encourages students to develop key skills within these areas over the course of Key Stage 3, which stands them in good stead for Key Stage 4 and beyond. Rather than design a curriculum that covers all major world faith traditions and pay lip service to them, this curriculum follows the OFSTED RE Review guidance of “cumulatively sufficient”.  

 

Students in Year 7 start by looking at what is meant by religion, encompassing definitions from a range of other disciplines and allowing them to draw their own conclusions, moving then into a study of Abrahamic faiths through the lens of prophethood and looking at the interconnectedness of the three major faiths. Students in year 8 study a history of philosophical thought and application of philosophical ideology, followed by Greek mythology and theological interpretations of the Abrahamic faiths. Year 9 students study an introduction to ethical theories and issues, followed by philosophy of religion, ending with human rights and social justice. 

 

Covering a range of subject areas allows students to find their passion and spark across the three disciplines and draws on different aspects of all three to give students a breadth of knowledge and skill base. Core evaluation and communication skills vital to success in this subject are embedded across Key Stage 3 and are enhanced in Key Stage 4 as students narrow their focus. At Key Stage 4, we follow the AQA Religious Studies A GCSE specification with an emphasis on Christianity and Islam as our comparative religions and studying Religion and Life, Peace and Conflict, Philosophy of Religion and Crime and Punishment as part of their philosophy and ethics education. 

Rationale  What is the rationale behind your curriculum design and ordering of content over time? 
The PRE curriculum is designed to introduce and expose students to a range of cultural, religious, philosophical and moral perspectives. The emphasis is very much placed on the concept of worldview and the lenses through which people interpret the world around them. This enables them to engage more deeply with the communities around them as well as preparing them to be part of a global community with a wealth of different perspectives. 

 

The Key Stage 3 curriculum follows a disciplinary approach where students will study units and schemes of work that interleave and encourage students to see the relationship not just between the units of work, but also the relationship these have with other areas of their curriculum. It enables students to draw parallels between schools of thought and make connections throughout history and across cultures and societies. Students broaden their understanding of their own influences on their worldview and how this impacts their interpretations of events in the world, harnessing some of the key skills that will enable them to grow into well-rounded individuals.  

 

The units chosen at Key Stage 3 and 4 allow students to explore and appropriately articulate their own opinions, their decision-making and evaluation processes and encourages them to study and discuss important and sensitive topics that have a substantial impact on their lives and the lives of others. PRE aim to grow students who are epistemically informed but also as people with strong social skills, high levels of emotional intelligence, a broader grasp of the world around them and an enhanced cultural capital. 

Equality  How is your curriculum accessible and purposeful for all students, including SEND, Disadvantaged and Higher Ability Learners? 
Whilst the curriculum is ambitious and challenging in its approach, differentiation is at its heart. Students are presented with opportunities to grasp the key concepts and apply them at a level that is appropriate for them whilst also challenging them to make expected progress and beyond. Differentiation is at the forefront of the planning, delivery and assessment of the curriculum and is embedded within each lesson. It gives students ownership over their own progress and challenge whilst ensuring that all students’ needs and abilities are catered for.  

 

Significant emphasis is placed on the literacy element of this course with students given appropriate scaffolding to support them in articulating their own opinions and demonstrating key knowledge about the topics taught. A crucial part of equality in the curriculum is reflected in the diversity of the curriculum. PRE places a lot of emphasis on academic scholarship as giving credit to those who founded theories and forms of the discipline forms part of the ambition and challenge of the subject.  

 

However, it is important that this scholarship reflects the lived experience of students and therefore drawing on scholars from different cultures, religions, genders, sexualities and race, is imperative in enabling students to engage with a curriculum that reflects their experience or that of others. Being conscious of the invisibility of whiteness often inherent in the lens of teaching and resources surrounding PRE is the first step to challenging this and creating a curriculum that is accessible and purposeful for all. 

Aims, Vision & Values  What is the aim of your curriculum and how does this support the aims and values of the school? 
At the heart of the Philosophy, Religion and Ethics curriculum is the desire to inspire a passion for the three academic disciplines that this subject comprises with the hope that this translates into a strong uptake of students choosing the subject at Key Stage 4 and 5. The curriculum is designed to foster a love of learning beyond the classroom and encourage students to find the enormous relevance of this subject in their day-to-day life. Making real life applications is crucial to the success of this subject and the curriculum aims to introduce students to areas of study that hold significance either morally, philosophically or from a position of faith to themselves. 

 

The PRE curriculum also aims to challenge students, whether that be through tackling deep, complex philosophical arguments or considering alternative perspectives. The subject has the capacity to acknowledge and develop the whole person, beyond just the academics, and embed key academic, life and personal skills, such as tolerance, respect, empathy, strong communication skills, and an understanding of the wider world and their place in it.  

 

Teaching through a variety of lenses, such as history, anthropology, archaeology, psychology, sociology, theology and philosophy, helps students to see the value of different belief systems and the impact that religion has on individuals and communities, the way in which philosophy has shaped the world, how crucial a strong sense of ethics and morality is in becoming upstanding citizens and how interconnected religion is to other subjects. There is an explicit emphasis on diversity within the curriculum and its academic scholarship, as this is an integral aim of PRE and ensures that the curriculum reflects students’ lived experiences and those of others in the wider world. 

Misconceptions  How do you address misconceptions in your subject to support students’ learning? 
One of the biggest misconceptions in PRE is the idea that the subject holds no relevance to their lives. We actively challenge this misconception through the planning of the curriculum and the development of resources. We also challenge other misconceptions that are created due to students’ own worldviews and encourage students to acknowledge their influences and biases and how this may impact on the way in which they view the issues we face. For example, it is common for students to think about Jesus as reflecting a stereotypical white European physique.  

 

 

Moderation, reflection and collaboration also supports the challenging of misconceptions as we are able to share the common themes that need to be addressed. We also challenge misconceptions in written writing through the use of exemplar answers and quizzes that are designed to get students to identify the mistakes and misconceptions within those works, demonstrating their knowledge and tackling issues regarding common errors. 

 

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