Why are we teaching a knowledge-rich curriculum; how is it different?

Knowledge of the development of human beliefs over time gives pupils a sense of their ‘place’ within and alongside many worldviews, both religious and non-religious. Pupils are entitled to the opportunity to develop such knowledge, which in turn develops their sense of where their own worldview sits, not only within the society in which they live, but within the worldwide community.

A knowledge-rich curriculum enables pupils to understand key vocabulary, cultural significance and religious content that is also developed in other areas of the curriculum, therefore further enhancing this deeper knowledge (e.g. English Literature or History). 

Why are we teaching this content?

The content of each unit of study is driven by an enquiry question. This enquiry question itself has a disciplinary focus. For example, philosophical enquiry questions might be ‘what is the love of wisdom?’ or ‘does the concept of God make sense?’ On the other hand, a theological question might ask, ‘why does God appear to have so many names?’ An historical question might be, ‘how did the emergence of Islam affect ancient Arabia?’ A question from the human sciences might be, ‘what is religion?’.

Pupils will have knowledge of how the six largest religions have played an important part in this, along with understanding of how philosophical ideas, including non-religious views (such as Humanism) have shaped society. The content is chosen because it helps pupils to gain enough variety of knowledge to develop a true sense of the importance of key worldviews in societies, thereby strengthening their sense of their own place within these worldviews.

Why are we teaching it in this order?

Pupils study a breadth of disciplinary questions during each year. Units are ordered in such a way that concepts learned in one unit lay the foundation for content in a subsequent unit. For example, in the Year 7 unit ‘What is the love of wisdom?’, where pupils study Aristotle, this lays the foundation for studying Aristotle’s ‘virtue ethics’ in Year 9. Studying the Abrahamic faiths in Yr7 lays the foundation for comparing with the dharmic faiths in Year 8, along with providing building blocks that underpin our GCSE course.

Within each unit, the content is sequenced to enable pupils to make meaningful connections. For example, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are taught in this order, since this is the chronological order that historians see in the emergence of these religions. Looking at ‘Creation Narratives’ in Year 7 then helps when pupils look at Cosmology in Year 8.

What do pupils need to remember and be able to do in this subject?

Knowledge in Philosophy, Ethics and Religion is derived from worldviews developed from stories, narratives and historical information. Concepts are flexible, a core part of cultural literacy and strengthened by their links with many other concepts within this subject and other curriculum subject areas. These concepts are identified within the pupil anthologies which accompany the curriculum.


What methods do you use to help pupils secure this knowledge in long-term memory and apply it in complex tasks? 

Teaching is adapted to the topic and the type of knowledge which we are handling and also to particular classes and pupils. Choral response and quizzing are used to teach and test items such as vocabulary and key facts. Homework is largely review work which is then tested in class. Teachers diagnose gaps in knowledge and plan future quizzing to address these gaps.