Religious Studies


“Whatever you do, do it well.”

Our Aims

The Religious Studies Department at OLA believes firmly that Religious Education is essential not only for academic progress but for spiritual growth and social cohesion.  It is at the heart of the school und underpins both its Catholic ethos and the British values which the school supports.

 “In a multi-faith society, core values that promote respect for the rights and dignity of every human person are essential for social cohesion.  Thus, in Catholic schools, the teaching of religion must help students to arrive at a personal position in religious matters that is consistent and respectful of the position of others, so contributing to their growth and to a more complete understanding of reality.”

Christ at the Centre, Birmingham Dept of Education Report

Our approach to the curriculum is informed by these aims and underpinned by the words of our foundress, Catherine McAuley, “To each according to their needs”.  We aim to provide Religious Education which presents pupils with the faith appropriately to where they are on their own journey.


The Curriculum

The Department has designed its own scheme of work, closely linked to The Open the Door programme and adapted to incorporate material from the series The Way, the Truth and the Life and other resources. This programme is delivered through three single periods of approximately 40 minutes each during the week.


Year 7

What it means to belong to a Catholic School – includes modules on prayer and the Mass
The Church – Buildings and Community – including baptism and religious vocations
Deciding what is right and wrong
Love, relationships and marriage

Year 8

Jesus – Historical background, Jesus’s life and teaching, Jesus in Art

The Passion narrative
Easter and afterwards

Year 9

Christian heroes and heroines
The Bible
Trinity – begin first module of GCSE course

Key Stage 4

At GCSE we follow the AQA GCSE Religious Studies B specification.  It offers the opportunity to consider moral issues but also to study the way spirituality is a key part of our culture and history.

Year 10: Unit 2 – Religion and Life Issues

Religion and Animal Rights
Religion and Early Life
Religion and Prejudice
Religion War and Peace

Year 11:  Unit 5 – Religious Expression in Society

Religion and Art
Religion and Literature
Religion and the Media
Religion in Contemporary Society

Sixth Form

We follow the challenging OCR specification in Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics at AS and A level. 

AS Level

Philosophy of Religion – Greek views of God, Judeo-Christian ideas of God,  Arguments for the existence of God (teleological, cosmological, moral and ontological), Science and Religion, the Problem of Suffering.
Religious Ethics – Normative and relativist ethics, Religious Ethics, Natural Moral Law, Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics, Situation Ethics, application of ethical theory to Abortion and Rights of the Child, Euthanasia, Genetic Engineering, War and Peace.


Philosophy of Religion – Religious Language, Attributes of God, Life after Death, Religious Experience, Miracles.
Religious Ethics – Meta-ethics, Free will and Determinism, Conscience, Virtue Ethics, application of ethical theories from AS and virtue ethics to Sexual Ethics, Business and Environmental Ethics.


GCSE and A level Reform

From September 2016 we shall be changing GCSE and A level specifications in line with government guidelines. As soon as Examination boards put flesh on the outline proposals we will update our details.



From September 2014, David Willcock, an experienced Religious Studies subject leader, took over as Head of Department.




Since 2007 Felicity Gunn, Head of Year 7 and induction of pupils, has supported the Department as a former Religious Studies subject leader and in September 2012 took up the role as full time Religious Studies teacher. 




From September 2014, Shannen Campbell has joined OLA as an NQT Religious Studies teacher. As Chaplaincy Co-ordinator she is also responsible for Liturgies and Retreats throughout the school year.






Catholic ethos permeates the whole school, but the lens through which is it focused is the spiritual life centred on prayer and the sacraments. Here too the words of Catherine McAuley ring true, ‘to each according to their needs’. We encourage a respect for every individual, regardless of background, beliefs or ability.

There are myriad opportunities for spiritual growth outside the curriculum at school.

Daily Eucharistic adoration
Year-group retreats at High Leigh for Years 7 and 10
Prayer weeks
Stations of the Cross in Lent
Christian Union
Year-group Masses
Leavers’ Mass
Whole-school liturgies including Mercy Day, Remembrance Day, the Carol Service and Passiontide Service.
The use of prayers from the OLA prayer book in form time and Year-group assemblies

We are also starting a St Vincent de Paul Group and aim to expand the activities of the Chaplaincy to open it up to all members of the school community regardless of belief. We intend to link our efforts to the core themes of Catholic Social Teaching:  Human Dignity, Community and Participation,  Care for Creation,  Dignity in Work, Peace & Reconciliation, Solidarity, the Option for the Poor and Vulnerable.  Pope Francis commented after his visit to World Youth Day in Brazil:

“I want havoc in the dioceses, I want us out there, I want the Church to get out into the street, I want us to avoid everything that speaks of worldliness, of comfort, of clericalism, of being closed in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions - these are all places to go out from”
In this mission we also follow the example of Catherine McAuley. The first step on this road is to start a St Vincent de Paul group within the school. By beginning with areas of concern that all pupils can stand behind we hope to introduce all pupils to Christ who is at the centre of our school life and who comes to us not only in prayer and sacrament but in the guise of the poor, the hungry, the thirsty and those in prison.


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