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Harris Academies
All Academies in our Federation aim to transform the lives of the students they serve by bringing about rapid improvement in examination results, personal development and aspiration.

Religious Studies

Religious studies aims to teach students about the defining features of all the major world religions, as well as the major secular movements within the public sphere. It also aims to impart to students a confidence to employ ethics and critical thinking in their everyday lives.

Religious Studies teaches students to attempt questions that do not have a clear or simple answer. An ability to attack questions with vigour despite the knowledge that they may not find an easy answer is something that breeds character and determination. Coupled with this is the benefit of combatting ignorance and polarised viewpoints through in-depth study of different religions and cultures.

For further information please contact Mr Richard Walsh

Overview of RS at the academy

Religious Studies in Harris Boys Academy East Dulwich (HBAED)

Subject Leader – Richard Walsh, April 2017


Religious Studies within Harris Boys Academy focuses on the need to prepare our students to play a full and active role in society, with a thorough understanding of religious and cultural difference in a pluralistic society.  This is accomplished through quality teaching of the history of religions, differing theologies and their social presence in the public sphere.  Religious Studies in Harris Boys Academy also compliments our SMSC and PSHE offer to develop our students’ understanding and appreciation of diversity, to promote shared values and to challenge racism, discrimination and extremism.  We also focus on the impact of religion and religious ethics on our local communities.

Students at Harris Boys Academy are able to tackle these topics in a reasoned, non-prejudicial manner, and are enabled through quality teaching to critically analyse sources of authority and religious teachings and philosophies.  We pride ourselves on ensuring that our students leave our school as well rounded citizens.  They have a holistic understanding of British Values related to (particularly) Judaeo-Christian ethics, as well as knowledge of all other major world faiths, and an awareness and appreciation of the changing face of British society (as per section 375 (3) of the Education Act 1996).

Moving forward, the subject leader for Religious Studies is forging closer ties with other Federation Academies, and he has helped to develop a meeting structure where teachers work together as they would in a local SACRE.  This is already benefiting staff in single-person departments with regard to support and resources, and is being expanded (more meetings, more Academies present) this year.

Our Structure

Religious Studies is compulsory for all students. Key stage 3 all have classroom lessons of Religious Studies as outlined below.  Key Stage 4 Religious Studies is divided into ‘Core RS’ and ‘GCSE RS’ as outlined below.  Students who are on the Religious Studies GCSE route complete a full GCSE, Eduqas Route A (9-1).

Key Stage 3

In Key Stage 3 students cover topics agreed with the Harris Federation Religious Education Strand – comprising over a dozen Harris Federation secondary Academies.  This group meets to share best practice, perform and report on research, develop and distribute resources, and ensure that all Harris Federation students receive Religious education as per legislation (National Curriculum in England: Framework Document, DfE, September 2013, p.4).

Core RS

This learning takes place in form time during reflection times on literacy days, within ‘Building Cultural Capital’ sessions, during collective worship in form time and during assemblies, and as part of their PSHE curriculum.  Harris Boys Academy also offers bespoke ‘Renaissance Days’ for all students where they visit sites of cultural and religious significance, three times per year.  Also, each year a single KS4 ‘Renaissance Day’ is wholly focused on Religious Education topics and visits.  Past examples include visits to Catford and Bromley Synagogue, St Pauls Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Jamyang Buddhist Centre, and BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.


In Key Stage 4 the Religious Studies GCSE is an option, and students have more curriculum time devoted to the subject.

  • Year 9 – 1 class, 3 contact hours per week
  • Year 10 – 1 classes, 3 contact hours per week
  • Year 11 – 2 classes, 2 contact hours per week

Curriculum content

Key Stage 3 students “deepen their understanding of Christianity and the other 5 principal religions in a local, national and global context.” (Southwark Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education 8:2004)

Harris Boys Academy aligns itself with the Southwark SACRE recommendation of a curriculum where around 1/3 of the content is focused on Christianity, with the rest of curriculum time divided between the five other world religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism.

Key Stage 4 Religious Studies options students work from the Eduqas Religious Studies (9-1) Route A curriculum (Appendix B).

Key Stage 4 students who have not chosen to do the GCSE qualification in Religious Studies complete their religious education as part of their wider curriculum.  For example, all students complete collective worship every day, reflecting on religious and spiritual teachings.  There are also entire units of the PSHE curriculum (shown in the SMSC map – Appendix C) devoted to Religious Education, where students learn about religious philosophy, ethics and culture.  Assemblies often have a spiritual or reflective component, and every term has an assembly focused on a religious or philosophical topic.  As well as this, KS4 student activities/visits during ‘Renaissance Days’ are vetted for a religious, spiritual, philosophical or ethical component that helps them to understand religious and societal issues.

What value Religious Studies delivers and any evidence of impact:

  • We ensure Religious Studies content is delivered according to National Curriculum standards in our Academy.
  • We offer students excellent value added through imaginative and outstanding practice created through a collaborative effort of all staff, whether that be delivering lessons, form time sessions, assemblies, visits or trips.
  • We strive to track the content we deliver to every student across the Academy, and map this against delivery of PSHE, Assembly Programmes and SMSC objectives.
  • Our standard for Religious Studies within the Academy is that we can clearly evidence our promotion of students’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, and produce young men and women who understand, and are examples of, positive British values.
  • We can evidence the commitment we have to above objective through the detailed tracking of every lesson, assembly, school trip, visiting speaker or any other opportunity we have taken to deliver excellent Religious Education to our students by using SMSC trackers.

Assessment and Quality Assurance of Religious Studies

Key Stage 3

Religious Studies at Key Stage 3 uses standardised assessments, schemes of work and lessons created by the Subject Leader at HBAED and the Strand Leader at Harris South Norwood.  Assessment data is collated centrally and moderated, guiding discussion of the Religious Studies Strand meetings.  Students sit formal assessments at the end of each term, with occasional pit-stop assessments happening at the end of the half-term if the teacher deems it necessary.

Key Stage 4

Religious Studies at Key Stage 4 uses proforma assessment material from the examination board Eduqas.  Selections of these papers are then moderated by Religious Studies specialists within HBAED and at Religious Studies strand meetings.

Curriculum summary

Key Stage 3

Throughout Key Stage 3 students will study a wide range of religious and cultural traditions.

Key Stage 3 schemes of work are tailored to engage and inform students in order for them to make the best possible academic progress. The subjects covered throughout the year are:

  • Christianity
  • Sikhism
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Judaism
  • Buddhism

Students develop their critical thinking skills needed for GCSE study throughout Key Stage 3, and develop their ability to contextualise and evaluate religious evidence.

Key Stage 4

Key Stage 4 in Religious Studies prepares students for their GCSE examinations which they take at the end of Year 11. There is no coursework or controlled assessment. Students take the new 9-1 GCSE, Eduqas (WJEC) Specification – Route A. This compromises three examination papers:

Paper 1

Religious, philosophical and ethical studies in the modern world

Written examination: 2 hours = 50% of qualification.

Candidates will study the following four themes:

Theme 1:Issues of relationships

Theme 2:Issues of life and death

Theme 3:Issues of good and evil

Theme 4:Issues of human rights


Paper 2:

Study of Christianity

Written examination: 1 hour = 25% of qualification.

Candidates will study the beliefs, teachings and practices of Christianity.


Paper 3:

Study of a world faith

Written examination: 1 hour = 25% of qualification

Candidates will study the beliefs, teachings and practices of one world faith – option 3: Islam


In Year 7 and 8, students have assessments every half term on the content they have studied that half term. These take the form of an exam. At the end of the year, in June, students take a full end of year exam which covers all the content they have learned over the course of the year.

At Key Stage 4, all classes have assessments every half term based on past and sample GCSE exams. There are full mock exams at the end of every year.

Final GCSE assessment arrangements are as follows:

Paper 1

Religious, philosophical and ethical studies in the modern world

Written examination: 2 hours = 50% of qualification.

Paper 2

Study of Christianity

Written examination: 1 hour = 25% of qualification.

Paper 3

Study of a world faith

Written examination: 1 hour = 25% of qualification

Examples of work

Example 1 - Catholic and Protestant

RS - Catholic and Protestant

Example 2 - Describe the features of the city of Jerusalem

RS - Buddhists

Example 3 - Buddhists

RS - Jerusalem (2)

Example 4 - Pilgrimage to Mecca

RS - Pilgrimage to Mecca (1)

Example 5 - Religion and conflict

RS - Religion and conflicts



Every student receives one piece of homework per week from Religious Studies.  These homeworks are accessible electronically by students and parents.  It will comprise a short knowledge quiz and a written response to an examination question.

All homeworks are set on – students will be given a specific code to allow them access to their online classroom, parents can also use this code to oversee their son’s work and progress.

Here are some example of homework done for Religious Studies. You can find more examples on our homework page too.

Example 1 - Quality of life (Year 10)

RS homework - Quality of life

Example 2 - Homework task to research and explain one story from Greek Mythology (Year 8)

RS homework - Pandora

Example 3 - Five pillars of Islam (Year 10)

RS homework - Five pillars of Islam

Example 4 - If we had the technology should we genetically alter children so they are immune to all diseases? (Year 10)

RS example of work - ethics



Religious Studies is a classical humanities subject, and is respected by universities.

Students who have an understanding of different religions and cultures are sought in the following career paths, amongst others:

  • Journalism
  • Social research
  • Armed forces
  • Charitable organisations and the third sector
  • Police force/Ambulance service
  • Teaching
  • Marketing