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May 11th 2021

Spotlight on Religious Studies

How long have you been teaching Religious Studies at Blackheath High School?

I arrived in January and began teaching my lessons via Guided Home Learning, lockdown having put an end to my hopes of making a good first impression in the flesh! Fortunately, I had the expert guidance of Mrs Rehman who teaches alongside me.

Can you tell us about your background?

I read Hebrew, Biblical & Theological Studies in Trinity College, Dublin. I spent my twenties travelling the globe and working in the heady world of opera and classical music. I’ve been teaching in both the state and independent sector for eleven years, and previously taught in another GDST school, so I feel very at home in my new environment.

What is covered in Religious Studies? What are your students working on at the moment?

Students in Year 6 are given a taste of RS in the Senior School through a study of Egyptology & Ancient Greek Religion. We deliver a systematic & philosophical study of six major world religions in Key Stage 3, and apply this learning to a range of contemporary ethical issues such as sustainability, wealth & poverty and matters of life & death. At Key Stage 4 we study philosophy & ethics through the lenses of Christianity and Islam. Our A Level students study an incredibly diverse range of themes such as Feminist Theology, Cosmology, Sociology of Religion and Business Ethics.

Is it a popular choice of subject?

It certainly is, and growing! This year we have two classes taking the subject in Year 10 and next year our A Level cohort is due to quadruple in size. This is exciting because the subject lends itself so readily to debate and discussion, so the more thinkers we have in the class, the greater the challenge when making judgements.

What are the benefits of studying this subject?

It touches so many aspects of the human experience. Whether one has been exposed to religion or not, the global impact of various belief systems is impossible to ignore. The opportunity to think critically about religious dogma and examine how it shapes how we think, who we elect, what we can wear, why we celebrate & mourn and where we will go when we die (if anywhere) is unmatched. From a progression viewpoint, it is a valued subject for entry into numerous third level courses. Furthermore, a quick internet search of ‘famous philosophy students’ will throw up a few surprises!

What are the benefits of studying Religious Studies at Blackheath High School? What is unique about Religious Studies here?

Goldilocks-style class sizes (not too big, not too small, but just right) allow students to be heard when they ask questions, discuss propositions with their peers and refine their critical thinking skills before articulating their stance on ‘the big issues’. Being a school connected to one of the world’s great capital cities means that we have the opportunity to visit numerous places of worship as well as venues such as the British Library and the National Gallery to see how our subject has been represented in academia and art. We are excited about the prospect of a school trip to Jerusalem next year (fingers crossed). Our library is well stocked with a cornucopia of books to light a spark in all our budding philosophers; Mrs Rehman and I are always on hand to recommend a book!

Is there a particular aspect of the course that students tend to enjoy?

Blackheath students love a debate! As we say in Northern Ireland – ‘They’re not backward at coming forward!’


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