Religious Education

Religion is the foundation of culture, and therefore a study of religion is vital in helping pupils to understand society’s beliefs, morals and values. Religious Education at Archbishop Holgate’s School teaches students to develop an understanding and respect for different groups within society, as well as an interest and appreciation of their beliefs and practices. It encourages pupils to be curious and inquisitive about the deeper philosophical meanings of religions, and enthuses them to reflect on their own personal beliefs, morals and values in a positive, supportive and safe environment.

“True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.”

Albert Einstein

Course description

The Church of England states that “At the heart of RE in church schools is the teaching of Christianity, rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. There is a clear expectation that as inclusive communities, church schools encourage learning about other religions and world views fostering respect for them.” As a Church of England Academy, the main aims of RE at Archbishop Holgate’s School are:

  • To enable pupils to know about and understand Christianity as a living faith that influences the lives of people worldwide and as the religion that has most shaped British culture and heritage;
  • To enable pupils to know and understand about other major world religions and world views, their impact on society, culture and the wider world, enabling pupils to express ideas and insights;
  • To contribute to the development of pupils’ own spiritual/philosophical convictions, exploring and enriching their own beliefs and values.

The following units are currently taught at KS3:

  • Introduction to religion and worldviews introduces pupils to the reality that there are many ways of understanding, experiencing and responding to the world.  This includes how a person understands the nature of reality and their own place in the world. Students explore how a person’s worldview is likely to influence and be influenced by their beliefs (religious and non-religious), values, behaviours, experiences, identities and commitments.
  • God is the first in a series of units exploring key Christian theological concepts in detail. Pupils learn about What it means for Christians to believe in God as Trinity? the universe as God’s good creation, and the role and place of humanity within this in Genesis 1 and 2. Pupils also explore the scientific theories of the Big Bang and Evolution and evaluate to what extent these theories pose challenges for Christians today.
  • Why humans should care for the environment? Is a thematic unit that considers the issues facing the environment today and their causes from a range of religious and non-religious worldviews.
  • Why are people good and bad? examines The Fall (Genesis 3) and the concept of Sin and Original Sin. Different interpretations of the story of Adam and Eve are considered and particularly the idea of humanity’s separation from God, the concept of moral evil and how this links to Christian beliefs about salvation.
  • Who was the Buddha and how has he influenced Buddhist beliefs today? The systematic unit introduces pupils to key beliefs, teachings and practices. Pupils will be encouraged to reflect on the place of our school values within Buddhism.
  • People of God is a unit focusing on Old Testament stories which tell of God’s attempts to reverse the impact of the Fall, and promise to offer a solution to the problem of sin by sending a Messiah or Saviour.
  • Salvation examines the Christian belief that Jesus’ death and resurrection were necessary to save humanity.
  • Incarnation is a focus on the New Testament, examining the person of Jesus as Messiah and Saviour who will repair the effects of sin and the Fall, and offer a way for humans to be at one with God again.
  • Gospel explores the good news which the life, teaching and ministry of Jesus brought to humanity, with particular emphasis on our school values and loving one’s neighbour.
  • Judaism and Islam is a comparative study of these two religions, including an exploration of the origins of both religions and how Christianity fits in as the third Abrahamic religion, the lives of Moses and Mohammad and key religious worship practices and festivals.
  • Kingdom of God explores the idea that Christians look forward to a time when God’s rule is fulfilled at some future point, in a restored heaven and earth, and how this work has already begun.
  • Humanism allows pupils to discover a way of life which uses scientific method when it comes to understanding how the universe works and rejects the idea of the supernatural (and is therefore atheistic or agnostic). Pupils will learn how Humanists make their ethical decisions based on reason, empathy, and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals.


Your child will be formally assessed in Religious Education at KS3 each half term, including an end of year assessment covering content from the whole year. All assessments take the form of a written test, but will be differentiated to meet different educational needs.

Ways to help my child succeed

Please encourage your daughter/son to take an active interest in the world around them, particularly in the role that that religion plays at a local, national and international level. This might be through watching the news, reading newspapers or by discussing religious and ethical issues at home. Encourage your daughter/son to justify any viewpoints they may have, and to ensure they have considered a variety of viewpoints before coming to their own conclusions.

Useful websites

RE entitlement

Religious Education at GCSE is an enriching, thought-provoking and academically demanding discipline. Through the study of two major world religions and a variety of contemporary ethical themes, students are challenged with questions about belief, values, meaning, purpose and truth, enabling them to develop their own attitudes towards religious issues. Students will gain an appreciation of how religion, philosophy and ethics form the basis of our culture, and will develop their skills of analysis, evaluation and argument. The GCSE course fully supports students intending to continue Religious Studies at A Level.

“Religion has two purposes: to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” 


Course description

Component 1: Pupils study the beliefs, teachings and practices of Christianity and Islam, and their basis in sources of wisdom and authority. Areas of study include the oneness of God, the person of Jesus Christ, creation, the afterlife, worship, sacraments, duties, pilgrimage, festivals and the role of the Church in the local and worldwide community. Students also examine the influence of beliefs, teachings and practices on individuals, communities and societies.

Component 2: Pupils study four religious, philosophical and ethical themes:

  1. Relationships and families, which explores contrasting viewpoints on sex, marriage, divorce, contraception, sexuality, family life and gender equality;
  2. Religion and life, which considers the ethical issues of abortion and euthanasia, as well as environmental issues and animal rights, and beliefs about death and the afterlife;
  3. Religion, crime and punishment, which explores the concepts of justice and forgiveness in relation to the law, as well as theories of punishment and arguments for and against the death penalty.
  4. Religion, peace and conflict, which examines the meaning and significance of peace, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation, the reasons for war, the concepts of just war, holy war and pacifism, as well as religion and belief in 21st century conflicts.

Please see the course specification for further content information: AQA GCSE Religious Studies A (8062) Specification

Exam board

AQA GCSE Religious Studies A (8062)

Past papers

Our students complete routes 1A and 2A.


AQA GCSE Religious Studies is a linear course, with students sitting two exams at the end of Year 11, one for each component of study. Each exam is 1 hour 45 minutes and is worth 50% of the GCSE.

Students also complete regular practice exam questions throughout the course, and sit end of unit assessments as well as mock exams in Years 10 and 11.

Ways to help my child succeed

Please encourage your daughter/son to take an active interest in the world around them, particularly in the role that that religion plays at a local, national and international level. This might be through watching the news, reading newspapers or by discussing religious and ethical issues at home. Encourage your daughter/son to justify any viewpoints they may have, and to ensure they have considered a variety of viewpoints before coming to their own conclusions.

Please also support them in revising key terminology, as knowing these will prove hugely useful to them whenever they complete assessments, as well as in their formal exams.

Please also engage with them when they ask you for your opinion; we often encourage students to find people who have opposing views with regards to a particular moral issue, as this can help them to structure more in depth and thoughtful exam answers.

Useful websites

Being a Church school, we take our obligation to broaden our students’ religious awareness seriously. Enrichment RE comprises fortnightly lessons, as well as two off-timetable Enrichment RE days, which provide the opportunity for students to explore, discuss and debate the role and impact of religion in contemporary society.

During Enrichment RE students take part in discussions about the influence of faith in our world today. Students’ understanding of a range of faiths will be refreshed, and how they currently, and have previously, influenced the societies in which we live. This course offers a great opportunity to broaden general knowledge, initiate intrigue and allow healthy reflection and debate.

ERE lessons include:

  • Religion and ethics – ethical theories and applied ethics
  • Religion and society – a sociological approach to the study of RE
  • Religion and society – a psychological approach to the study of RE
  • Religion and Media- a study of the representation of Religion in different films
  • Enrichment Day: God and the Big Bang’ – students meet with world-renowned scientists, also Christian by faith, and engage in interactive and QA sessions, allowing them to develop an understanding of the compatibility between faith and science.

The Enrichment RE programme is delivered by our outstanding RE department who, through their expertise, genuine interest and enthusiasm, deliver a truly enriching experience. The benefits of Enrichment RE are huge; not only does it help students prepare a stunning UCAS application, it also helps prepare students for life beyond school and university.