New A Level Specifications: Making the Choice

RE Departments around the country are being faced with a very tricky situation: picking an A level qualification for teaching from September 2016. As it stands, all of the ‘big four’ exam boards has been approved by Ofqual and, at last, the decisions can finally be made.

The most daunting part of this change for me, has been the shift towards the inclusion of much more theological material. It is not my particular area of expertise and I am going to have to do a lot of independent study and subject knowledge development. This is a positive thing though, I will be a better teacher for it. In conversation with other HODs, this new element has been a key reason from moving towards other options such as the Pre-U, or AQA Philosophy. As a teacher in the independent sector, I have also given these due consideration, but all-in-all I am going to stick with Religious Studies for the time being.Read More »

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GCSE Reforms in Religious Studies: A Blessing

This post is written as part of an RE ‘Battle of the Blogs’, you can read the opposition here.

It frustrates me that so much credit at GCSE can be given-over to the “in my opinion” response. I am interested the views of my pupils and enjoy giving opportunities for debate and discussion. But, I am not that interested. What I have seen in the RE classroom over the past 3 years is a worrying lack of time given over to enriching children’s’ skills in empathy for others views via a genuine critical assessment of their own views. This, I argue, is much more important. As we look to implement the changes which have been made nationally, I hope that this is might be on the cards for the future of RE. (Previous Blog – 14 May 2015)

I wrote the above a year ago; I was utterly frustrated with the lack of depth in GCSE specifications. I have always felt that the qualifications were low on substance, so I am delighted by much of the reform at GCSE. The changes have, I feel, brought about ample more opportunity for religious literacy, whilst retaining a focus on analytical skills and writing well-reasoned, carefully supported arguments.

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