RS forms a central part of both the curricular and extra-curricular life of Cheam.
At Cheam, children value and enjoy their two RS lessons per week, finding them an exciting place to have their opinions challenged and minds opened to new and interesting ideas. Our aim is to create an environment where everyone’s opinion counts, but where children are prepared to question the values they have cultivated and prepared to change their mind when presented with alternative ideas or suggestions. Healthy debate and questioning are actively encouraged, but in a way that remains in harmony with the central spiritual values which Cheam promotes through activities such as Saturday Chapel and Cheam Bible Club (CBC).
At Cheam, we believe that RS is most effectively and excitingly taught when it is brought to life for children. Gone are the days of reading religious texts with no real sense of their relevance today. From an early age, children at Cheam are encouraged to ask “why”? In Years 3 -5 the focus is on Christianity and the Bible. Pupils are taught through experience and enjoy lessons which explore the clothes Jesus and his followers may have worn, daily life in biblical times, as well as the sorts of food people would have eaten in biblical times – Mrs Renals’ lentil stew is a particular favourite!
Once the content of a story has been mastered, children are encouraged to delve deeper into its meaning and relevance and are introduced to simple theological concepts. The significance of the Bible today is at the heart of the junior teaching – making religion relevant is at the core of the Cheam RS department’s ethos. From this study, key contemporary issues emerge, including the debate between science and religion, social justice, and prejudice and discrimination. Alongside this, certain debates relating to philosophy of religion also emerge. The works of Stephen Law and Peter Worley are used and concepts such as determinism, conscience and the problem of evil are explored. Year 6 marks a break from the study of Christianity as children study World Religions. Cheam focuses on Judaism and Islam and the children study both religions’ understanding of God, the holy books, prayer, holy buildings, family life and the key religious festivals. This is supported by trips to a mosque and a synagogue, as well as a World Religions Experience Day hosted in school.
In Years 7 and 8, Cheam children return to study of the Bible but with increased emphasis on contemporary issues. In Year 7, pupils look at selected stories from the Old Testament with the primary emphasis being on understanding their relevance today. In Year 8, the New Testament is the focus and the teaching follows the same structure. Intellectual curiosity is encouraged and supported by exciting events such as the Cheam Philosophy and Religious Studies Day, where Heads of RS from various Senior Schools are invited to host workshops to increase discussion surrounding the subject. On this day Cheam children are also lucky enough to enjoy a workshop put together by The Philosophy Foundation.