The Religion and Philosophy Department teaches an internally designed course throughout the lower school, before preparing pupils for AQA GCSE Religious Studies. In the Sixth Form, the Religion and Philosophy Department offers both AQA A Level Religious Studies and CIE Philosophy and Theology at Pre-U. The Head of Department is Mrs Janice Nickson, who has been in post since 2005. Religion and Philosophy lessons are taught exclusively in a suite of outstanding classrooms in the attic floor of the Tate Building, affording the subject a distinct base and identity. 

    Taking a tour through our weekly programme of enrichment activities perhaps best identifies the richness and vibrancy of the department. Monday after School and Friday at break epitomise the concept of Eudaimonia: human flourishing. Tai Chi, which is taught as an integral part of the First Year carousel programme, becomes available as an extra-curricular opportunity; meditation is offered as a contemplative pause amidst our busy days. In the elegant surroundings of the Music Lecture Theatre on Wednesday lunchtimes you will hear a range of talks delivered by pupils from all years, which extends the remit and involvement of Philosophy throughout the curriculum. We host Philosopher’s Lunches in our Dining Room annexe: for example, the “Free Thinking Lunch” and a distinctive take on “Dead Philosophers.” 

    It is the ethos of the department to encourage pupils to study their own choices of World Religions, which in lower school can embrace Shintoism and Animism. Our Second Year course encourages us to “Think Global.” In the Third Year our concerns for our wider world then see us hold an imaginative conference: Think Global School “International Volunteers” Day. Our links with our local community in Yarm, in Stockton on Tees, in North and West Yorkshire show the extent of our commitment to invest in our wider communities. As a consequence of relationships established here, we are busy planning our first visits to Mexico and Ghana to invest in community service in our wider world. From this broad base of enquiry in the lower school, Religion then becomes a popular GCSE option that offers a focus on the major world religions and humanism. Pupils are encouraged to play an active part in the extra-curricular discussion groups that exist, often accompanied by tea and biscuits. 

    The Sixth Form curriculum is vibrant and distinctive. The department pioneered the Cambridge Pre-U course in Philosophy and Theology when it began and was part of its inception in the Independent sector. A linear examination terminating in three papers allows pupils to experience a valuable bridging course – essential preparation for the rigour and autonomy of ambitious university study. We have former pupils who return to us to deliver workshops and report of the utility and resilience that Pre-U furnished them with for their further studies in both the Humanities and Natural Sciences.

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