Religious Studies


Welcome to the Religious Studies Department.

Here at Dormston, Religious Studies is taught to all students from Year 7 to Year 10.  Religious Studies at Dormston takes a non-confessional and objective approach towards the study of religious and non-religious worldviews.  We, in turn, develop a critical approach to studying traditions and draw on philosophical, ethical, theological and cultural methods of enquiry. 

 Mission Statement 

 The Dormston Religious Studies department focuses on the study of religious and non-religious worldvews from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds.  We explore religious traditions in their historical, cultural, philosophical and ethical contexts.  We seek to understand how religious and non-religious worldviews evolve, impact our world today, and shape our future. 

 Our academic engagement with religion, philosophy, and ethics enables us to: 

  • Reflect critically on religious and non-religious belief, teaching and practice. 
  • Foster empathic relationships in an increasingly diverse world. 
  • Develop and sense of religious literacy. 
  • Explore how religious and non-religious worldviews promote justice, peace, and environmental awareness. 
  • Work towards the development of more just and sustainable societies, both locally and globally. 
  • Collaborate with others for the common good and well-being of all. 

Meet the Team

Mr James Salton-McLaughlin (aka Mr Mac)

 I always knew I wanted to teach, but it wasn’t until my A Levels that I developed a passion for Religious Studies. I read BA (Hons) Study of Religions at Bath Spa University, where I studied a broad range of religions and spiritualities including African Religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Paganism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism and New Religious Movements. I also enjoyed investigating philosophical and ethical questions, with particular interest in eschatology (afterlife) and medical/sexual ethics. I went on to complete my teacher training at the University of Brighton, securing a PGCE (secondary) & QTS in Religious Studies, with PSHE being my second subject.

 I’ve been teaching in Dudley and Sandwell ever since 2007, where I’ve performed a range of roles including Head of RS, Head of Humanities, Head of English Baccalaureate, ITT Co-ordinator and Year 7 Strategy Leader. I’ve taught Religious Studies, History, Geography, Citizenship and Psychology up to GCSE level. I’m currently enjoying my role as Deputy Head of Avon, Stonewall Champion, and teaching Religious Studies to Dormston students.

I love Religious Studies as it is a true cross-curricular subject. We delve into so many other subject areas and disciplines, it never feels like I’m just teaching one subject. I love the discussions we have in Religious Studies lessons, and developing debating skills. I enjoy studying and teaching the diversity within and between religions, and there is always something new to learn.


Mr Ronnie Wood – Teacher of Religious Studies

Hi, I’m Mr Wood.  Religious Studies was my favourite subject at both GCSE and A Level and I always wanted to be a teacher.  Before teaching Religious Studies, I used to be ‘the animal man’ going around schools with exotic animals and giving talks on things like conservation and animal rights. 

I’ve been teaching in Dudley since 2009.  In that time, I have had many multifaced roles, from Head of Religious Studies, Head of Psychology, Head of Sociology, Head of Year, Stonewall Champion and Student Voice Lead – but my favourite thing in the world is being in the classroom just teaching Religious Studies. 

Outside of school, I am a member of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue, a life member of the Vegan Society and I am also a swimming instructor and lifeguard with Sandwell Leisure Trust. 

In my free time, I enjoy playing the piano, cooking Indian and Japanese food and learning languages. 

Our classrooms are full of stimulus to help re-cap knowledge learned during our student’s time with us.


Religions & Worldviews 

Mission Statement:

Religious Studies at Dormston aims to provide an intellectually challenging and personally enriching experience of the study of religion. The Dormston Religious Studies department focuses on the study of religious and non-religious worldviews from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, with ‘phenomenology’ and ‘philosophy’ of religion taking precedence in most cases. We explore religious traditions in their historical, cultural, philosophical and ethical contexts. We seek to understand how religious and non-religious worldviews evolve, impact our world today, and shape our future.


Our academic engagement with religion, philosophy, and ethics enables us to: 

  • Reflect critically on religious and non-religious belief, teaching, and practice.
  • Foster empathic relationships in an increasingly diverse world.
  • Develop a sense of religious literacy.
  • Explore how religious and non-religious worldviews aim to promote healthy relationships, justice, peace, and environmental awareness.
  • Work towards the development of more just and sustainable societies, both locally and globally.
  • Collaborate with others for the common good and well-being of all. ​







Religious Studies at Dormston is twofold in its intent:

  • Academic Study of Religions and Worldviews: to provide students with the knowledge and skills to progress academically in the study of religions, developing inter-disciplinary skills to compliment other areas of the curriculum and further study.
  • Personal Development: to provide students with the opportunity to reflect upon their own self and worldview, and to develop the attitudes of respect for all, open-mindedness and appreciation and wonder.

Academic Study of Religions and Worldviews

Personal Development

·         Enhance an awareness of religious literacy, including building more complex schemas for key concepts (e.g. faith, sacrifice, justice, sacred…)

·         Utilise an array of disciplinary methods when exploring religions and worldviews (including those from philosophical theological, social science and anthropological pedagogies, and critique through a variety of lenses such as feminism and environmentalism).

·         Build a complex and deep understanding of worldviews, including religious worldviews (Abrahamic and Dharmic) and non-religious worldviews (e.g. Humanist) that considers the diversity of beliefs and practices found within each worldview.

·         Become aware of how religious and non-religious beliefs and teachings can have an influence of their adherents (including individually, nationally and globally).

·         Be able to support religious beliefs and practices with evidence from sacred writing or other sources of religious belief and teaching.

·         Develop an awareness of the diversity of religions, worldviews and cultures in the local area and in the wider world.

·         Learn to formulate arguments, criticisms and persona judgements on a range of religious and non-religious beliefs and practices, using logical chains of reasoning.

·         Develop the skill of empathy and appreciate how worldviews can influence practices, ethics and other beliefs for an individual.

·         Reflect on their own worldview and ways of thinking about themselves and the wider world.

·         Become more open-minded to the opinions and judgements made by others.

·         Learn from lived experiences of religious and non-religious worldviews.


Core Religious Studies Curriculum Map:


Half Term 1

Half Term 2

Half Term 3

Half Term 4

Half Term 5

Half Term 6


The Jewish Covenant

Is G-d’s Covenant with Abraham more important than G-d’s Covenant with Moses?

Life of Jesus

Did Jesus have to die for sins to be forgiven?

Life of Buddha

Was the enlightenment the most important moment in the life of the Buddha?

Existence of God

Can the existence of God be proven?

Death & Beyond

What happens to us when we die?


Founders, Worldviews and Philosophy


Buddha Dharma

Is craving the cause of suffering?

5 Pillars of Islam

Is prayer the best way to worship Allah?

Gurus of Sikhism

How did Sikhism change through the guruship?

Christian Worship

What is the best way for Christians to worship God?

Jewish Lifestyle

What makes a Jewish life unique?


Religions and Worldviews / Practices


Sexual Ethics

Should religious believers allow same-sex marriage?

Buddhist Puja

Is meditation the best form of puja for Buddhists?

Medical Ethics

Is it ever right to take a life?

Ways of Knowing Religion

Is phenomenology the best method to study religions?

Our Origins

Is there a conflict between religion and science?


Ethics / Methodology / Practices


Religion and Drugs

Greek Philosophy

Religion & the Media

Equality, Prejudice & Discrimination

Good and Evil




Japanese Religions

Paganism & New Age Religion

Animal Ethics


GCSE Religious Studies Curriculum Map:


Half Term 1

Half Term 2

Half Term 3

Half Term 4

Half Term 5

Half Term 6


Theme D: Religion, Peace & Conflict*

Religion 1: Beliefs & Teaching

(currently Christianity)

Theme B: Religion and Life*

Religion 2: Beliefs & Teaching (currently Buddhism)

Theme D: Religion, Crime & Punishment*



Religion 1: Practices (currently Christianity)

Religion 2: Practices (currently Buddhism)

Theme A: Relationships & the Family*



*Note: Unless specified the focus of each unit is Christianity (although other religious and non-religious worldviews might also be explored to a lesser extent), ensuring the statutory requirement of ‘wholly and mainly Christian’ is adhered to.

Assessment :

Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9)

Formative assessment across all units in the form of:

  • ‘Ways of Knowing’ religious and non-religious views in the form of a controlled assessment. This will assess methodological skills such as theology, philosophy and social science.
  • Knowledge quizzes
  • Evaluative writing, whereby students argue for and against a statement using logical chains of reasoning.

Summative assessment of substantive knowledge at the end of each year, assessing knowledge and understanding.  These will include 1-mark multiple-choice questions, two-mark questions and 5-mark ‘understanding’ questions that also assess application of religious beliefs and teaching.


Key Stage 4 (Core)

Formative assessment through a range of tasks in workbooks throughout each unit.

Summative assessment in the form of a Forms Quiz assessing knowledge and understanding of the unit, per unit.

Key Stage 4 GCSE Religious Studies (Years 10-11)

Formative assessment across all units in the form of:

  • Low-stakes knowledge quizzes
  • 4-mark questions that assess how religious belief and teaching influences believers (only for the two units on religious belief and teaching).
  • 4-mark questions that assess similar and contrasting beliefs and practices (for both religious practices units and for all themes units).
  • Questions that assess understanding, including the ability to explain/develop points and applying sources of religious belief and teaching. These comprise of 5-mark questions that always start with ‘Explain two…’.
  • Evaluative writing, whereby students argue for and against a statement using logical chains of reasoning.

Summative assessments:

  • End of unit assessment totalling 51 marks. Two sets of questions (totalling 24 marks) relating to that particular unit. Spelling, punctuation and grammar assessed on the 12-mark evaluation questions (totalling 3 marks).
  • Mock Exams:
    • Mock 1 (End of Year 10) – 1hr 45min exam assessing the first four units studied: Themes B and D, Religious belief and teachings from the two religions being studied.
    • Mock 2 (Nov/Dec in Year 11) – Full Paper 1 exam
    • Mock 3 (Feb in Year 11) – Full Paper 2 exam


‘Ways of Learning’ Religion

The predominate pedagogical method for teaching and learning religion is using the phenomenological method. This is to observe and explore religious phenomena (including beliefs and practices) objectively and critically, through respect and empathy. We also explore philosophy of religion where relevant, especially in year 7 units on the existence of God and death and beyond, where philosophy forms the main skill of enquiry. This includes the ethical units. Other ‘ways of knowing’ are explored in a Year 9 unit (anthropology, archaeology, psychology and sociology), and where relevant in certain units (e.g. theology in the Life of Jesus unit, and feminist critique in the Sexual Ethics unit). The aim is that students use these ‘ways of learning’ religion throughout the Key Stage 4 units, both core and GCSE.

Sequencing, Interleaving and Schema Development

  • Year 7 focuses on foundations and philosophies. Students will examine key concepts in the first three units and build upon these schemas continuing through Key Stage 3 and 4.


Jewish Covenant

Life of Jesus

Life of Buddha

Existence of God

Death & Beyond

Abrahamic Religions





Holy Land











Last Supper




Resurrection (Jesus)


Son of God






Dharmic Religions












First Cause





Problem of Evil

Religious Experience











Resurrection of Body




  • Year 8 studies worldviews, building on key concepts from year 7, to develop a more complex awareness of religious belief and teaching. Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism are further taught, building on knowledge acquired in year 7 on Shakyamuni Buddha, Jesus, Abraham and Moses.  Students are also introduced to Islam (through a study of the 5 Pillars) and Sikhism (through the historical development found in the guruship). Students will be able to explore comparative religions through shared concepts, such as between Abrahamic and Dharmic religions (e.g. belief in prophets or karma) and differences between and within these worldviews (e.g. Sunni and Shi’a variations of Islamic Intellectura
  • Year 9 comprises of a unit on ‘ways of knowing’ religion, where students explore different methods of studying religion, including phenomenology, theology, philosophy, archaeology, anthropology, psychology and sociology. They will explore skills such as empathy, ethnographic research, sociological research methods, and criticisms such as feminism. Year 9 also introduces students to ethical enquiry, regarding sexual and medical issues (e.g. same-sex marriage, adultery and pre-marital sex, contraception, fertility treatment, abortion and euthanasia. Students will also study the concept of religious communities through the Buddhism Sangha and the Worldwide Church.
  • GCSE Religious Studies interleaves the Beliefs & Teachings units with the Themes (ethics) units, allowing a constant steam of opportunity for retrieval practice across the two years.

RS at Dormston is ‘Intellectually Challenging and Personally Enriching’

Intellectually Challenging

Personally Enriching

  • Students issued with revision booklets prior to units to accompany self-study and home-learning (skills taught in lessons).
  • Every unit across KS3 and GCSE RS includes an evaluative focus, whereby the lessons in each scheme build up the complexity of religious (and in some cases non-religious) attitudes towards the issue in hand.
  • Regular low-stakes quizzes to ensure knowledge is being retrieved.
  • Focus of developing understanding through 5-mark assessments that, from yr7, encourage the skill of applying scripture and other sources of religious belief and teaching to explanations.
  • Questioning is embedded in each and every lesson, to tease out more critical and complex thought.
  • Student questioning encouraged in all lessons.
  • Feedback ensures students are clear on how to progress.
  • All students encouraged to reflect on religious belief and practice, making links between their own beliefs and practices, and learning from the values taught in a range of religions.
  •  Students have the opportunity to visit places of worship and speak with believers. Key Stage 3 visits to the Wolverhampton Sikh gurdwara, a local church, Singer’s Hill synagogue and the Birmingham Islamic Experience. GCSE students visit Worcester and Coventry cathedral, and at least two non-Christian places of worship.
  • Develop discussion and debate skills, including a visit to the Dudley SACRE debate.
  • Range of creative methods used to teach religious beliefs and practices (e.g. role-playing parables in Yr7, use of Muslim artefacts used in prayer in Yr8, designing mandalas for meditation in Yr9, a critical study of religion in song and film in yr10).


All Religious Studies lessons, in both Key Stage 3 and 4, including core KS4 RPE and GCSE RS are mixed ability. Careful planning is required so that SEND students can access the demands of the curriculum, and quality first teaching is pivotal in ensuring all students can achieve their potential.

How do students ‘get better’ at Religious Studies?

All students will progress at RS using the 3 types of knowledge as highlighted below.

  • Substantive knowledge – knowledge about various religious and non-religious traditions. Each unit embeds within it a range of religious and non-religious beliefs, teachings and practices. E.g. in ‘The Jewish Covenant’ unit, students will explore what ‘Covenant’ means, give examples of Covenants, explain how the Covenant influences Jewish life with practices such as Brit Milah and Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, and the Passover festival.
  • ‘Ways of Knowing’ – students will study the ‘how’ of knowledge in religion. This will be different in each unit. E.g. in ‘Life of Jesus’ unit, students will consider theology when exploring parables, but in ‘Sexual Ethics’ students will encounter phenomenology and philosophy of religion. ‘Ways of Knowing’ are taught discretely in Year 9, only after theory can be studied in context, but should also be taught and referred to in each unit.
  • Personal knowledge – students to develop an awareness of their own religious and/or non-religious worldview, being able to reflect and critique on content studied. E.g. in Death and Beyond, students consider how they might cope with bereavement, and in Medical Ethics students consider their own reasoning to support their beliefs on euthanasia.

Complexity of religious and non-religious beliefs and practices

To ensure that students build u*p a truer and more complex schema of religion, at Dormston we encourage a development of knowledge and understanding of these three worldviews:

  • Abrahamic Worldviews (taught predominantly through Judaism and Christianity from yr7 onwards, and introducing Islam at year 8) – religious concepts (e.g. prayer, worship, sacrifice), philosophical concepts (e.g. monotheism, soul, heaven, judgement) and ethical concepts (e.g. judgement, evil, sin) developed throughout these units. Divergent beliefs and practices within religion taught (e.g. Roman Catholic and Church of England teaching on abortion at yr9; Sunni and Shi’a practices on salah at yr8).
  • Dharmic Worldviews (taught predominately through Buddhism from yr7 onwards, and introducing Sikhism at year 8) – religious concepts such as (Buddha, puja, mantras), philosophical concepts (e.g. anatta/atman, anicca, dukkha) and ethical concepts (e.g. karma, skilful, moral Precepts) developed throughout these units. Divergent beliefs and practices within religion taught (e.g. Pure Land and Tibetan Buddhist worship at yr9; different attitudes towards wearing the 5 K’s at yr8).
  • Non-religious Worldviews (taught predominately through atheism, agnosticism and Humanist from yr7 onwards, but concepts such as secular Jews and secular Buddhism also taught) – non-religious beliefs about challenges to God’s existence (including the problems of science and evil), challenges to design and First cause arguments for God’s existence, accessing morality without the need for God, tackling death, and ethical issues (e.g. Humanist belief in right to self-determination and feminist arguments surrounding pro-choice).
  • Occasionally there are opportunities to study beliefs and practices outside of these worldviews, such as tribal religions and ancestor worship when studying anthropology of religion in yr9, religions of antiquity (e.g. Egyptian burials) when studying archaeology in yr9, Spiritualist beliefs on the Spirit World in yr8, Japanese animism in Shinto in yr11. Additionally, students will explore individual believers and how their beliefs might challenge that of their religion (e.g. Roman Catholics who disagree with the Catechism’s stance on same-sex marriage in yr9, or how some Jews do not follow kashrut laws i

Non-Required Work

The following websites are useful for self-study, revision and inspiration for non-required activities at home.  You may also find them useful to aid home learning.

(Gives you an overview of each faith tradition, worth having a pre-read to prepare for the in-depth study of religions units).

(Oak National Academy lessons were really useful during the school closures in 2020/21, however many students have found them to be a great additional resource to complement learning in school. All of the Year 9 and 10 units are found in the Key Stage 4 section.  For year 7-8 students it is worth looking at the Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 section to find relevant lessons. 

YouTube is an invaluable resource with hundreds of revision videos, especially for GCSE. Make sure you type ‘GCSE RS’ or ‘GCSE Religious Studies’ in the search engine to help narrow your search.  You may also wish to write ‘AQA’ to find videos that are directly relevant to your specification.  Years 7-8 can type in ‘Key Stage 3’ with either ‘Religious Studies’ or ‘Religious Education’ to help find suitable learning videos.

How can Parents/Carers help their child’s learning

In Religious Studies we draw upon current affairs to exemplify the religious, philosophical and ethical topics and issues we explore. Please encourage open and honest discussion about the current affairs, push your child to justify their opinions with examples and reasons, as this is a good skill for our evaluation essays.  Film and TV can be a great resource at home to explore such issues.  When watching your favourite soap opera, you could explore whether violence was necessary in a certain scene.  When watching the news (e.g. on climate change) you could explore how religious believers might contribute to the discussion.

Reading stories and exploring artwork can help the demonstration of the impact belief has had on life issues and culture across our world, in both positive and negative ways. Historically human have shown to act both positively and negatively; we believe that our students are the generation that can learn from the mistakes of those before them, to ensure that there is a society, both locally and worldwide, that will be just and peaceful.

Encourage revision such as watching BBC bitesize/Learning clips (found both on the BBC Bitesize website and YouTube).

Understand that not all people within one tradition believe and act the same.  Challenge terms such as ‘All Christians/Muslims/Sikhs/atheists’ etc… as there are always exceptions to the rule.  Encourage tolerance and respect for those different to yourself, whether based on race, sex, sexuality, religion and ability.

Curriculum Intent
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