The main aim of the PRE Department is to provide all pupils with a basic understanding of the beliefs, values and practices of the world’s largest religious faiths as well as to introduce them to some new ideas such as “nones” and Humanism. Having an open mind, being willing to ask questions, share views and to listen sensitively to the views of other pupils are all essential requirements in each and every lesson, whether that is Year 4 or year 8. The focus is not on the promotion of religious belief; rather on the ability to understand and thus gain an appreciation for other faiths and beliefs. So, in our Year 7 lessons on the existence of a supreme being, the focus is not merely on the Christian idea of God, but on the concept of a higher being.
All year groups, from Year 3 to 8 will be introduced to new ways of thinking and to some “big” ideas, such as: “Should animals have the same rights as humans?”, “What is matter?” and “Who am I?”. Above all, the aim is to provide pupils with the thinking skills to address some really important life questions; often there is no definitive answer, but it is the academic and thinking journey that matters.
One of the highlights of the Year 8 course is the trip to Buckfast Abbey. This trip combines an investigation into the religious life of a working monastery, as well as time in a hands-on exhibit that focuses on different aspects of philosophical enquiry, such as personal identity and how we make choices.