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GCSE Religious Education

GCSE Religious Education

Head of Department: Mrs A Moloney BA (Hons) (Surrey), PGCE (Roehampton)

At St Edmund’s, Religious Education is a compulsory subject for all students. As England’s oldest Catholic school, the education of its students in Catholic belief and practice has always been at the core of the College’s curriculum, and is summarised in the College’s motto, ‘Avita Pro Fide’, For the Faith of our Fathers. Catholic parents who entrust the education of their children to St Edmund’s College have a right to expect that this education will be authentically Catholic and educationally sound, and at least as good as that which they will receive in other subjects.

We aim to give our students a deeper knowledge and understanding of their Faith, which will support them in responding to the grace of God to continue its practice. The whole syllabus is based on the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’. The results of public and internal examinations in knowledge and understanding of Catholic belief and practice are included in the overall measure of student progress.

Some students at St Edmund’s are not Catholics. We welcome them to the College and we presume that their parents, having sent them to a Catholic school, are happy that their children will be taught Catholic faith and practice. We hope that they will acquire a deeper knowledge and understanding of the beliefs which have motivated our community for over 400 years. The parents of non-Catholic children can be confident that the integrity of their children’s consciences will be respected, as all assessment of RE work is based on knowledge, understanding and an ability to evaluate Catholic faith and practice, not on personal beliefs.

In the lower classes of the College, a general curriculum in Catholic belief and practice is studied, using the ‘Way, Truth and Life’ syllabus, published by the Catholic Truth Society as a basic resource.


Spiritual Life

Of course, apart from academic course in ‘Religious Education’, the department is fully involved in the general religious life of the College, enhancing its spiritual and moral development. Students are prepared for First Holy Communion, Confirmation and Reception into the Church. Retreat Days and Pilgrimages are organised, and practical expressions of commitment to the Faith include the Jubilee Group and Community Service Group. Help and support is also given with the preparation for Morning and Evening Prayers.

There is much emphasis on liturgical preparation, with students taking a full part in the Masses and other services, and undertaking altar serving and sacristy work in our magnificent Pugin Chapel.



This two-year course prepares all students for a GCSE examination in Religious Studies.  It provides candidates with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth study of Catholic Christianity through a specific focus on the teachings of the Church (50%). Candidates will also look in depth at Judaism (25%) as recommended by Diocese of Westminster and Ethical Themes including Family Life, Gender Equality, and The Sanctity of Life (25%). The strong focus on Catholicism and our in-depth study of another Religion will enable the College to fulfil the demands of the ’Religious Education Curriculum Directory’ issued by the Catholic Hierarchy of England and Wales as to appropriate programmes of study.

It aims to help the student to:

  • Acquire knowledge and develop an understanding of the beliefs, values and traditions of Catholic Christianity.
  • Consider the influence of these beliefs, values and traditions.
  • Consider religious and other responses to moral issues.
  • Identify, investigate and respond to fundamental questions of life raised by religion and human experience, including questions about the meaning and purpose of life.
  • Challenge students to reflect on and develop their own values, beliefs and attitudes in the light of what they have learnt.
  • Understand the influence of religion on individuals, communities and societies.
  • Apply knowledge and understanding in order to analyse questions related to religious beliefs and practice.

The specification does not presuppose faith.  Its content should strengthen the understanding and faith of those who do believe and help those without faith to appreciate the reasons for religious belief according to the belief and practice of Catholicism.


The following Papers are taken:

Paper 1:           Roman Catholicism – 1hr 45 min         50%

  • Beliefs and Teachings; nature and purpose of God, the Jesus as the Word of God, Passion Narrative, the nature of Salvation, Problem of Evil and Suffering.
  • Practices of Roman Catholicism; Seven Sacraments, liturgical worship, non-liturgical worship. The worldwide Church, Vocation.
  • Sources of Wisdom and Authority; Origins of scripture, the Magisterium, Role of the Church. Jesus as a role model, the importance of Mary, sources of personal and ethical decision making.
  • Forms of Expression and Ways of Life; Pilgrimage, the purpose of symbolism and imagery, the use and purpose of objects of devotion.

Paper 2:           Judaism – 50 mins      25%

  • Beliefs and Teachings; The nature of the Almighty, nature and purpose of the Messiah, the covenants with Moses and Abraham, the nature and sanctity of human life, the problem and responses to evil and suffering.
  • Practices; The Tenakh, Talmud and the Torah, the Synagogue, Jewish prayer, Worship, Religious ceremonies, Shabbat, Festivals.

Paper 3:           Ethical Themes A & C– 50 mins       25%

  • Religion, Relationships and Family Life
  • The Theology of the Body
  • Gender Equality
  • Marriage, Divorce and Annulment
  • Human Dignity and Religious Freedom
  • Human Rights
  • Wealth and Poverty
  • The Work of CAFOD and Christian Aid
  • Prejudice and Discrimination


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