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 Post subject: Religious Studies GCSE
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:32 pm 
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I would love some advice on whether you need to actually have a faith to do well in Religious Studies! My DS is tempted to do it because his class have spent much of the last year doing philosophy and ethics, however the papers his school do are Edexcel 8 (Religion and society based on a study of Christianity and at least one other religion) and 16 (Mark’s Gospel).

We’re not a religious family and my concern is that he’ll be at a significant disadvantage in doing the subject. Has anyone any experience of the subject and those papers? I’d really appreciate an honest opinion about whether I’m worrying unnecessarily or if being religious is important for these particular papers.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:02 pm 
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I have a dd in Y10 doing Religious Studies: Ethics, Philosophy and Religiion in Society AQA Spec B (4056) and another dd in Y9 about to choose it. Both dd's will continue with the subject at A level. Over half of the two hundred students in each year take the subject and very few of them have a strong faith. I feel that the subject is more about moral values and that is what it should be called. Lots of parents are very surprised and puzzled when their dc's want to do "Religious Studies" because they think it is going to be all about Jesus! But our course is certainly focused on Morality, Ethics and Philosophy. AQA Spec B consists of two Units: Unit One: Religious Philosophy and Ultimate Questions and Unit Two: Religion and Morality. Two 90 minute exams, 90 mins each. no examined course work. I think it has huge relevance to our modern day society, for example , one of the topics, Should life mean life is the big topic in the news today and Should we respect the elderly? is rarely out of it. I would go on the Edexcel website and download some of the past papers and look at the questions and see what you think. I would say go for it. It is all about having opinions and being able to represent them. For my dd's it was an absolute given. They love it. DG


Last edited by Daogroupie on Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:10 pm 
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I second Dao's remarks.

My dd has taken GCSE RS and we are not remotely religious, she thoroughly enjoys it. It's a great subject for getting them to think, debate and put into writing.

A wide range of topics discussed. A great subject to study (shouldn't really be called RS, but we have to go with the powers that be!).

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:37 pm 
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Thanks so much for the advice Daogroupie and Snowdrops. I think the problem I have is that I have looked at the papers and they seem to be far more 'religious' than I thought they would be. I'd be really happy with the idea of ethics and debate as I completely agree that it is highly important.

The sort of questions that come up include:
Explain why the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is important for Christians
Explain how the problems of discipleship are shown in the parable of the sower
Explain why Jesus' entry into Jerusalem may have caused conflict
Explain why the crucifixion is important in Mark

There are some more generic ones which are ok:
Explain how a religious organisation tries to promote world peace.
Explain why Christians are against bullying
Explain why justice is important for Christians.

I guess I'm just a bit freaked out now that I've seen the paper, as all along I thought it was far more about morality and philosophy and we're a week away from the options deadline.

Having seen some of the questions does it alter your comments about whether it is a good idea!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:52 pm 
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We're basically an atheist family, and dd1's RS route involved a year of Judaism and a year of Hinduism. She loved it all, and although she did at one point try to cajole us into converting to Judaism :lol: her faith or lack of it made no difference.

I wouldn't see those questions you give as examples as particularly religious - just think of them as literature questions about a text.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:54 pm 
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I agree that these questions are very focused on Christianity. I would be having my doubts if our papers only consisted of these questions. Have you showed the papers to your ds? What are the other options? What else is he taking? DG


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:13 pm 
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Delighted to hear that being non-religious wasn't a barrier for your daughter aliportico!

My DS had a look at the papers earlier today and immediately said 'I'm not doing that...' I'm just a bit dismayed that the school have spent all this time doing the philosophy side of things, but when it comes to the exam, they choose a different tack.

He's doing the usual 3 Sciences, Maths, English lang and lit, French and is choosing Geography and DT as well - so it comes down to RS or History iGCSE. We've been told however that History is a long subject and you really have to be 'into' it. There is also a significant coursework component.

I'm not sorry I had a look at the exam papers, but we've gone from being sorted to being very unsure just like that... I think a last minute meeting with both teachers is probably our best bet at this point.

Thank you all so much for giving me your opinion.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:25 pm 
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My son has just chosen his options and RS is compulsory! He hates that subject and to be honest with u I did immediately think it will just be about Jesus....., however, Daogroupie, after reading your remarks I am very surprised and it has actually made me look at RS in a different way. Speaking to some other people on why it has been made compulsory as a GCSE, it seems like in this day and age and in any job everybody has to respect other peoples beliefs!

I have told ds he will have to concentrate and work hard at this subject, even tho he dislikes it! :roll: :shock:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:25 pm 
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My DS is doing the short course edexcel unit 1. Religion and life based on a study of Christianity and at least one other religion. We are a Christian family but as far as I can see it is as described above mainly about ethics and morals.

Here are some past paper questions

What is free will? Do you think the universe is designed?
'All religious parents should make sure their children believe in God.' Do you agree? Give some reasons why some people may disagree.

I think it is a good course as it gets them to think about their own beliefs and those of others rather than trusting common sense argument and making sure they at least know why they have a belief and can back their own arguments as well as respect others.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:31 pm 
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Did they not go over the syllabus with you at parents evening? I got four pages of information on the syllabus plus some exam papers samples and the students got a talk about it in their lesson. My dd's also love History so they would have had a terrible time if forced to choose between the two. What is the syllabus for that one? We do Excel The Making of the Modern World and my dd is doing the Cuban Missile Crisis at the moment. DG


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