One of the most wonderful things about taking RS at GCSE is all the fascinating careers the subject can lead to. Here at Penwortham Girls, we think it’s crucial that students experience first-hand how their knowledge and skills is useful for real life careers.
This term, year 10 have enjoyed stepping into the shoes of journalists to investigate the miracle at Lourdes.
As part of the GCSE SPEC, students must know why Christians go on pilgrimage to Lourdes and what they do there. Before students wrote their final newspaper article, they spent one lesson looking at what pilgrims do in Lourdes today. The documentary ‘Sacred Journeys: Lourdes’ allowed students to follow a group of soldiers on their pilgrimage journey. Watching this video really helped bring the practices alive for students. They then spent a second lesson analysing blogs and news articles about the miracles which the church claims have taken place at Lourdes.
Students enjoyed making notes using the Cornell-note taking method, just like a real-life journalist!
Students then pieced all their knowledge together into a newspaper article. The teachers were blown away with their depth, detail and evaluation skills. It is clear that we have some budding journalists on the course. Just look at some of these captivating examples! They should be very proud of their work.
One of the highlights of this term in RE has been getting to know the Year 7s better through the ‘show & tell’ of their sacred objects. Every student had to bring in an object and spend 30 seconds explaining why this was special to them. It was great to learn all about their hobbies, religions, cultures, families and memories.
Students could connect their personal experiences to relate to the sacred artefacts belonging to traditional religions. They enjoyed handling a real life kirpan and understood why a Sikh would feel lost without it. A speaker from ‘Good News Bible’ then delivered a presentation on the Bible – a sacred item to many Christians. All students were given the opportunity to take away their very own little red Bible.
Sophie W: My item is a sparkly baby grow on a stick. This was put in my food by my dad step mum to tell me that I have a baby brother. If I lost this, it would make me feel really sad because this is what I have to remember that special day.
Ayesha S: This book is very dear to me for many reasons. The book has stories about how the holy prophets struggled and triumphed in spreading the truth of Islam. It also helps me live my life as a good Muslim.
Lilah C: My sacred item was my christening bracelet. It is sterling silver and has little intricate flowers and my name engraved. It is sadly too small for me now, but it makes it more magical as I can see how I’ve grown since being a tiny baby as I was baptised when I was 3 months old. I will cherish this forever because it’s a special event in my life. The bracelet is a remembrance of when I was welcomed into God’s family and became a Catholic. In my faith, baptism is the first sacrament and one of the ways that we strengthen our relationship with God.
This then connected the first unit of ‘What Does it mean to Belong to a Religion?’ to the second unit ‘Do we belong to God?’ Both of these units make up part of our year 7 enquiry into ‘Where do we Belong?’
To engage their Biblical studies of this unit, students enjoyed viewing different types of Bibles to those they had been previously been exposed to. Students are excited to continue their Biblical studies after Christmas with a new-found interest and respect for the Bible as a sacred object and as a guide to understanding God.
The year 8s have just finished studying the unit ‘How do we answer questions with no definitive answer?’ as part of our year 8 enquiry into ‘Where do we find guidance?’ Students studied a series of ultimate questions and used philosophical tools such as case studies, religious pieces of scripture, analogies and statistics to explain different viewpoints.
One of the questions was ‘Does God Exist?’ and students were given the challenge of creating a piece of art work or poem which demonstrates why they believe whether God does or does not exist. The RE department were blown away by the entries. Here is a small sample:
1st: Unaysah P The image you created powerfully showed your response to the ultimate question. We could clearly see what your image was representing. Your image was very unique and full of vibrant colours. The quote helps connect your ideas and shows extra dedicated research.
2nd: Vritika S
The poem you have created is detailed and we can clearly see your views on whether you believe that God exists or not. The pictures behind, work in harmony with the meaning of your poem. It adds the extra wow factor to your poem.
3rd: Lily S The poem that you created was extremely unique and well thought out. It showed deep thought and conveys a powerful message.
The year 7s have just finished studying a unit which explores what it means to belong to a religion and how these religions can focus on their similarities to live together in peace and harmony. This is an experiential learning unit whereby students are characters in a story, shipwrecked on a desert island. Along the way, students meet religious characters facing difficulty. Throughout this unit, students showed great compassion and social responsibility through the understanding of a variety of faiths.
At the end of their journey on the Island, students were given the challenge of creating a piece of art work / symbol which demonstrates the importance of respecting all religions. The RE department felt very moved by their entries. If only the whole world had the same attitudes towards religious tolerance as our year 7s!
The subject prefects found it very difficult to award prizes as there were so many incredibly special entries. Below are the winning projects and the reasons why they were chosen.
1st – Freya G
The dedication and time taken for this project was well reflected in the outcome. The evaluation is detailed and brings meaning instead of just focusing on one aspect. It is a unique idea and even the way it is designed to be displayed and put together has deep meaning symbolism. The art is really great too!
2nd place – Paige H
The design of your project was creative and showed a lot of different religions. The connection of them through the wreath helps to execute the meaning or religious equality and connection . The details of the base are also well thought through and it can be well displayed.
3rd place – Isabelle M
The display of your project very easily conveys the point of equality and religion. The rainbow is a well-known symbol of equality and you have intertwined this nicely with the religious symbols. The idea of putting the religions on clouds to connect with the rainbow is a clever idea and shows harmony throughout the presentation.
Spirited Arts Competition: YR 9 – What is Spirituality?
The year 9s have been studying contemporary forms of religion, including spirituality. Each class came up with their own definition of spirituality but we discovered spirituality can mean something unique to everyone.
As part of ‘No Pens Day’, Miss Brooks from the RE department and Mrs Honeyman from the science department decided to team up to deliver a session on spirituality. Mrs Honeyman is extremely passionate about spirituality and the students loved to see a non-scientist side to her. An interesting cross-curricular project demonstrated that even if you trust that science explains the how, you can search for the deeper meaning to life through spiritual practices away from traditional organised religions. My favourite quote from Mrs Honeyman’s session was that “spirituality is hard work every day. You have to find the greater power within yourself rather than in a superhuman being. It is a challenge to be your best self every day”.
One of Mrs Honeyman’s favourite spiritual practices is creating vision boards. Mrs Honeyman brought in her vision boards to show the students. This inspired many of our students to share their spiritual practices too. A very popular spiritual practice amongst our students is crystal healing. We were very grateful to view Grace H’s crystal collection and Ruby S’ too.
1st – Eden F
The amount of thought and effort put into the representation of spirituality through the image as well as the amount of detailed research to create the symbolism within it. The standard of the work is incredible. The amount of effort is visible throughout the whole piece and is well deserving of 1st place.
2nd- Hattie C
The unique presentation of this work highlights the amount of careful thoughts and ideas. It clearly conveys the meaning and intent behind the work. The explanation of your beliefs add a personal touch to the work as it demonstrates your approach to the representation of emotions, not just how it may look.
3rd- Sofia W
The research behind your work is amazing and shows your further understanding of what spirituality is and what it means to you. The presentation of your work is creative and different to other entries because it is created as something to be used by different religions instead of just a representation of spirituality.
Miss Hollier hosted a fantastic open evening with some excellent RE helpers. The room looked fantastic decorated in religious artefacts. The music and the scented incense added to the spiritual vibe of the room.
Lots of the students and parents were interested to know the results of our ultimate question: What does it mean to be human?
The results are:
Heaven and Hell
It was really close between heaven and hell and reincarnation!
In our first unit of work in year 7, we are shipwrecked on a desert island. We study how religious people cope when they feel stressed and upset, prayer and meditation. The students made Buddhist prayer flags containing either a meditation script or prayer to God and these prayer flags are hanging up at the back of the classroom for everyone to see.
Yom Kippur is a Jewish celebration which occurs on the final day of repentance (which lasts for ten days) and is the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar. It is called ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths’ by the Torah and is a marked by ‘afflicting the soul’. This is expressed through a fast which lasts for a total of 25 hours. Jews spend most of the day and all evening in the synagogue asking for forgiveness for their past wrongs to improve in the future to attempt to live a moral life. On this day, many Jews refrain from working, continue to fast and attend the synagogue services. For this one day, washing, bathing and the wearing of leather shoes and coats are also banned to those over the age of twelve. This festival is the only one of the year where the men wear their prayer shawls for evening worship. The prayer services are lengthy and involve people standing up for an hour at a time . The Kol Nidre (All vows) service the night before the festival encourages the repentance of sins such as arrogance, selfishness and gossip. The closing service (Neilah) when the period of fasting ends lasts for an hour, at which time the doors of the Ark are kept open and all must stand. The book of Jonah is then read and a common greeting ‘G’mar Chatimah Tovah’ (which means ‘may you finally be sealed for good’) is exchanged. A long blast on the shofar concludes the main proceedings. This is followed by the Shabbat in the Havdalah (separation) ceremony and finally a shared meal. This is a time for making gifts (often for charities) in accordance with the instructions of the Torah and the Talmud.
Durga Puja is the Hindu celebration of the victory of goddess Durja over the demon king, Mahishasura. It is seen by some to be the most important festival in many regions of India such as Nepal, Bangladesh, West Bengal and other north eastern areas. It is also known as Sarbajanin, meaning that it is inclusive of all communities and everyone is welcome to celebrate the festival. It lasts 10 days in the month of Ashvini in the Hindu calendar (September-October). Celebration and worship begin on the 6th day and then the goddess is worshiped in her various forms. It also honours the divine feminine (shakti) and other major deities (four in total).
There are many offers given to the goddess, including food, water or cloth. According to tradition, the idols or Pratima of Durga is made of clay. The artist who makes the idol should collect the soil from the forbidden area or the Nishidho Polli because the soil is considered pure. Additionally, the eyes of the goddess are supposed to be the last thing painted and the third eye should be painted in the darkness . This is the most important ritual for the sculptors and they can take months creating the pratimas. It marks the beginning of the divine mothers journey in the mortal world. The idols are traditionally placed under bamboo and wood.
The first celebration of this festival was said to have occurred in the late 1500s, originating in India and is still seen as an occasion of reunion and rejuvenation. It is believed that Goddess Durga brings happiness, peace and prosperity, although this annual celebration is sometimes not seen as the real Durga Puja but is the more popular one. Others celebrate this in March and it is also known as Chaitra Basanti Puja.
In RE this term, we were asked to create a project with an aim to combat Islamophobia. It had to be a captivating project that would appeal to the younger generation. Our group decided that we would make a news report video. We interviewed students, asking their opinions on Islamophobia and what they were going to do to support the abolishment of the growing issue. We had some fantastic responses, including a social media campaign called ‘Stand Up to Islamophobia’ which is active on every social media platform and aims to raise awareness. We thought this was a brilliant idea, considering that many young people have access to social media, therefore would be a great place to gain recognition and make more people aware. We edited our video by adding sounds and special effects to make it more engaging. We hope it made many more students aware of this important topic.
Written by Sophia H, Yr9.
This term, Year 9s have enjoyed studying ‘Crime & Punishment’ and ‘Islamophobia’. Alongside teaching substantive knowledge, we think it is crucial that we enhance students’ personal development by informing them about career choices that link to RE.
A popular career that RE can be a great stepping stone for, is the police force. A Sergeant from Lancashire Constabulary volunteered his time to answer interview questions from our students. The students submitted their questions via a Microsoft Forms quiz and Miss Brooks categorised this into three categories for the Sergeant. Questions were answered on the following topics:
Year 8: Jewish Holocaust Memorials
This half term as part of the Jewish module, Year 8 have been studying Anti-Semitism. As an example of Anti-Semitism, we have spent three lessons looking at the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust. We used the Windermere Children case study. As a focus, we explored how Jews became ashamed of their religion as a result of their experiences.
The year 8s were given the project of creating a Holocaust Memorial for Jewish people. They had to use their knowledge of the Jewish religion combined with their knowledge of the Holocaust to make a suitable memorial which would help them feel proud of their religion.
The teachers were blown away with the careful thought and design that was put into the creations. We have some very talented, aspiring architects!
We were so impressed with the memorials, that we wanted everybody to have a chance to see the display of incredible work. We set up a Holocaust Memorial museum which was run by our fabulous team of year 8 curators. This allowed them to see how religious knowledge could benefit them in a career. Miss Brooks, RE Department
Year 7s key focus this year is the human enquiry into ‘where do we belong’.
In the current unit, students are studying where it is that Jesus belongs. As a Jew, does he belong to Judaism or Christianity? Does he belong to God?
At the beginning of the year, students learnt that all Abrahamic faiths believe in one God. If you ask your daughter what a religion is called when they believe in one God, they will be able to wow you with some impressive vocabulary!
As we progress through our learning journey, our knowledge on the God of Christianity advances and students have recently been introduced to the concept of the Holy Trinity.
Students enjoyed using their scientific knowledge of H20 to help them understand what Christians believe about God.
Students were shocked to learn that Christians do not really believe that Jesus is God’s son and instead they believe he is a representation of God on earth.
To demonstrate their understanding of the Holy Trinity, students created a piece of art work and explained the symbolism behind their ideas. Celina had the fantastic idea to make 3 masks. Celina demonstrated her explanation by wearing each of the masks, showing that no matter which one she was wearing, she was always still Celina. The masks enabled her to present herself in different ways, like God. We were very impressed with this idea. This is the fantastic abstract thinking we love to see in RE!