In the RE Department we aim to:
- To help students to grow in their love of God and in their knowledge and understanding of the person of Jesus and of the teaching and practices of the Catholic Church and of other Christian denominations.
- To consider Christian and secular responses to moral issues and to relate these views to their own lives and goals.
- To enable students to reflect on their experience of life and on what gives our lives meaning and purpose.
- To help students to deepen their knowledge, understanding and respect of themselves, others and the world.
- To develop their own thinking and reasoning on questions of faith, to be better able to answer, ‘What do I believe and why?’
Importantly, it is not expected that pupils entering year 7 will have a developed knowledge of Christianity. In this respect pupils coming from non-Christian Prep/Primary Schools, or those whose families do not attend church, will not be disadvantaged.
Key Stage 3
The girls follow the curriculum of ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life’ CTS series.
In year 7 we focus on
- What it means to be Marist
- The word of God (the Bible) and Jesus
- Advent and the Nativity of Our Lord
- The Mass
- The Sacraments with a particular focus on Baptism and Reconciliation
- Holy Week and Easter
- Key features of a Christian Church
In year 8 the girls study
- Creation and Covenant
- Prophets and Prophecy
- Christianity in Britain
- The Trinity with a focus on the Holy Spirit
- The Sacrament of Confirmation.
In year 9 the modules are
- Pilgrimage and Prayer
- Conscience and Moral Decision Making
- Jesus of the Gospel and an Introduction to Mark’s Gospel
Key Stage 4
All pupils follow the Edexcel GCSE Religious Studies course. This is split into two sections. The first is Mark’s Gospel, which is worth 50% of the GCSE and is sat at the end of year 10. The second is ‘Religion and Life based on a study of Christianity’, which looks at reasons people have for believing or not believing in God, Christian stances on matters of life after death, marriage and the family and community cohesion.
Every year the girls in Key Stages 3 and 4 participate in a one day retreat at the Comboni Fathers’ House in Sunningdale. This gives them the opportunity to reflect on their relationship with God and one another. The retreat days often involve outside speakers, from a number of different Christian denominations, who help to engage the girls in a topic that is of particular relevance for their age group. The day ends with an extended time of prayer, drawing on the theme on the day.
Girls are also offered other retreat opportunities on a voluntary basis. In the past these have included a visit to the Franciscan Friars of Renewal in Canning Town and a retreat at the Benedictine Monastery, Worth Abbey.
Key Stage 5
The AS course results in either a stand-alone qualification or 50% of the A2 qualification.
It consists of two components: Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics. Philosophy of Religion includes, among other things, a grounding in Plato and Aristotle and a close study of arguments for the existence of God; the problem of evil and the challenges posed by science. Religious Ethics involves an examination of different ethical theories and their application to areas of medicine and war.
At A2 the themes studied draw on the AS but require a greater integration of the different scholarly approaches. For Philosophy of Religion the topics include religious experience, the meaning of religious language, miracles, revelation, the nature of God and philosophical issues on body/soul and the afterlife. In Religious Ethics we study questions of ethical language and its meaning, free will and determinism, virtue ethics, environmental, business and sexual ethics.
There are two examination papers sat at the end of Year 13, each making up 50% of the A2 year and half the final grade of the two year course.
This advanced discipline of Religious Studies is one of the best forms of training for decision makers. It develops the ability to recognise one’s own and other people’s presuppositions and provides an appreciation of the complexities of human nature, enabling the student to learn how to deal with abstract concepts and to think about some of the deeper dimensions of our existence.
The subject requires an enquiring mind. It trains one to think logically, to articulate ideas with precision and to assess carefully other people’s arguments. As such it prepares candidates well for university courses.
RE in the Sixth Form
All Sixth Form students continue with Religious Studies in Year 12 and Year 13. They study a course validated by the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth.
The course allows the students to explore their relationship with God and one another through different approaches to prayer, and by addressing the role religion plays in art, science, politics, psychology, film and social justice. As such it helps with the students’ personal development and provides them with extra areas of interest that can assist them in university applications and interviews.
In Year 12 students are invited to take part in an overnight retreat at the Marist Sisters’ Retreat House in Gloucestershire at the beginning of the Autumn Term. This is an excellent opportunity for them to bond as a year group. They often single it out as a highlight of their Sixth Form experience.
Year 13 are invited to a retreat at the Carmelite Retreat Centre in Boar’s Hill, outside Oxford. As the girls are preparing for life beyond the Marist, the focus is on discernment, providing time for quiet personal reflection as well as opportunities to relax and enjoy one another’s company.