Given the extreme shortage of time, it has been impossible to arrange a meeting for teachers of GCSE Religious Studies or to work extensively with colleagues on an alternative proposal as we have with the A Level proposal. Nevertheless, colleagues have serious concerns about the GCSE proposal, which they have voiced to us, and we would like to do something to help shape thinking as we all respond to the DfE proposal.
The following is my attempt to address the DfE priorities which are, again, to increase rigour and relevance to the study of religion, to enhance progression from KS3 and to A Level and university, to reduce options and routes through the subject, cutting costs and making the qualifications easier to standardize.
Clearly, this will not meet with everyone’s approval – but ask yourself, is this more integrated, balanced approach better than what the DfE is currently proposing? Would it support you in recruiting and retaining students and offering the opportunity of meaningful RE to a decent proportion post-14?
You might guess that I have been influenced by the old OCR paper “Christian Perspectives on World Issues” – which similarly specified some texts to study to inform discussion of the issues, and similarly covered some aspects of religious belief and practices. I have amplified this and applied to other religions – hence Jewish perspectives, Islamic perspectives etc. would be integrated with a study of those religions. Non-religious world views are specified in every topic which allows for that. I am not a fan of pushing humanism into the mold of a religion and trying to consider humanist practices, texts, sources of authority etc – but it is VITAL that an atheistic framework is considered thoroughly, including how its perspectives are similar and different from religious perspectives in relation to, for example, ultimate reality, world and human origins, nature and purpose of human life, sanctity of life etc.
For what it is worth, I would really like to teach this alternative! I think it would be engaging, challenging and would excite a good number of students, although it is definitely not traditional “philosophy and ethics” I admit, the proportion of marks, numbers of topics etc. probably need more thought.
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