Subject leader: Miss A Ledwidge and Mr D Shoker
The Religious Studies Department is judged to be outstanding. Staff, both long-standing and new to the team, are very proud of their department. Students and staff enjoy their lessons and are motivated to succeed. The SMSC agenda is covered in many of the lessons and students are encouraged to ask questions and develop their curiosity.
The 2016 A Level results were excellent with 50% of the students achieving A* - B grades overall. 100% of students achieved an A - D grade at AS Level last year which puts them in a strong position going into their A2 this year.
The GCSE results were also exceptional with 100% A*- C of which 60% of grades were A*- A. Many of the students achieving the top grades have gone on to study Philosophy and Ethics A Level this year.
There has been significant value added at GCSE and A Level over the last few years; this year the value added is again positive indicating students make excellent progress on both of these courses.
The extensive sharing of good practice, desire to remain on top of current affairs and subject knowledge, excellent work ethic and drive of the team are some of the many reasons this department are performing so well. There has been a particular focus on stretching the most able, developing creative resources and lesson plans.
Literacy is incorporated into lesson planning and work is marked for literacy. Students are encouraged to use structured writing frames to ensure they achieve full marks in the extended response questions at GCSE and A Level.
The curriculum for Core Religious Studies is constantly updated and refreshed to ensure students are engaged, for example the introduction of the successful “Moral Exemplars” and ''Afterlife'' units.
Students' views and attitudes
Students at all key stages enjoy their Religious Studies lessons. They particularly enjoy the open discussions, question and answer sessions, the interesting video clips and learning about different views. At KS5 one student commented "It's different from other subjects; it challenges our intellect" and at KS3 one of the activities the students particularly enjoy are “the code breakers at the start of the lesson". At all key stages, students commented on the amount of quality feedback they get and, in particular at KS4, that the structure and preparation for exams is excellent. Some comments the students at KS4 made about what the department do well include:
"Making lessons more interactive and fun"
"Department uses creativity in their lesson plans"
"Well taught course"
"Knowing how to direct us to our grades"
"Classrooms always look nice and interesting"
It is clear students are happy, secure and doing well in their Religious Studies lessons.
Enrichment and intervention
KS4 students are invited to attend “Philosophy Phocus” where they can come and work on their exam skills, improve their use of quotations and talk about ethics and any other ideas from lessons. At KS5, where there is a much smaller cohort, a more individualised intervention and support programme is in place.
Students’ work is tracked, with additional intervention put into place where weaknesses are identified. Examination technique with reference to the 12 mark questions is a particular focus.
Five students who took Philosopjhy A level went on to study at University, including Russell Group Universities, reading a range of subjects including International Relations and Politics. Three students from 2015 have gone on to study Philosophy courses at Russell Group Universities: Leeds, Glasgow and Kings College London.
The current focus is on ensuring the new A Level and GCSE schemes of work are in place and all staff are confident in their understanding on the impact of the changes to the specification. There is also a drive to share best practice in marking and feedback.