The ever changing religiosity in this country means that it is vital students gain an understanding of the various religions and learn to respect the views of others. Religion is constantly in the media and public eye and the issues that arise need to be discussed in a safe learning environment. Ethical debates present an opportunity for students to argue their opinions within the safe confines of the classroom.
Whilst the curriculum focuses primarily on Christianity and its role in shaping British society and laws, here at Beeston Hall students learn about the Six Major World Faiths and the wonderfully diverse nature of religion in this country. In the words of Kofi Annan, ‘we may have different religions, different languages, different coloured skin, but we all belong to one human race. We all share the same basic values.’
‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’
The Curriculum is based on the ISEB Common Entrance and Scholarship syllabuses. In Pre-Prep we cover a range of Old and New Testament stories and the main Bible characters, whilst also building their knowledge of the Holy Days of the Six Major World Faiths. Years 3 and 4 focus on Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism in order to build a rounded knowledge of the dominant religions.
In the Upper School, Common Entrance and Common Academic Scholarship papers require a good knowledge of the Bible with an awareness and understanding of the associated contemporary issues. We aim to develop an enquiring mind that appreciates different viewpoints. It is important that the students compliment their study of Christianity with other similar monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Islam and the Dharmic faiths. Years 6 and 7 will do schemes of work on Islam and Buddhism, whilst studying inspirational characters such as Martin Luther King Jnr and Mahatma Gandhi.
The children are assessed for effort during every lesson and this goes towards their half-term and end of term assessment grades. Their written work is marked following the school’s marking policy. Years 7 and 8 practice Common Entrance questions which are marked as per the mark scheme of the ISEB. Tests are given at the end of each topic to give us an idea of how well it has been understood. These are done in a variety of ways to make sure students are regularly monitored whilst enjoying their learning, in accordance with the schools’ values and aims for all. Whilst students will undertake a writing tasks based on Common Entrance guidelines, they will also be tested on their knowledge through acting tasks, storyboards or even group chart projects. Exams in Years 6 and 7 are an invaluable part of their preparation for their final Year 8 exams into their senior schools. We work on making sure that students can support and justify their opinions with evidence, bringing a smile to my face by using my favourite word ‘because’.
ACTIVITIES AND TRIPS
Students, both Junior and Senior, enjoy trips to the Islamic Centre and the Catholic Cathedral in Norwich. Each year we take the Year 8’s to Walsingham. Father Mike, our School Chaplain, hosts students at the local parish Church of England church for lessons on its layout and structure. The students are fortunate to have the opportunity to meet guest speakers from the various religious communities including Buddhist Monks and Sikh representatives.
‘Open the Book’ is a project to offer Bible stories as a part of School life. It’s a programme of themed and dramatised Bible stories which fit comfortably into a timetable lesson period. The children are invited to play the different character parts and a variety of visual aids are used to present the stories in a lively, engaging and compelling way. After the story has been told, the children, still in robes and role, answer questions and share their thoughts and feelings about the individual characters that they have represented. This programme of study for the pre-prep students has been prepared with the help of experienced educators and is based around ‘The Lion Storyteller Bible’ by Bob Hartman.
Open the Book is about storytelling and each story is scripted so that the children can participate, watch and enjoy the stories for their own sake. They feature well-known biblical characters, but they’re also about important values like faith, courage, patience and bravery.