The aims of religious studies at The Hall are to help pupils:
- understand the distinctive nature of religion and the contribution of religious and spiritual insights.
- know, understand and respect the traditions and beliefs of Christianity and their significance for our culture and moral values.
- know, understand and respect the major aspects of other world faiths and their beliefs.
- develop an understanding of the contribution of religion to morality and to personal and social relationships and responsibilities.
Throughout their early years at the school, boys are encouraged to develop a secure knowledge and understanding of the main living faiths. In Reception, the emphasis is upon building positive relationships through sensitivity to others, developing a open-minded attitude to difference and an awareness of what is right and wrong. Through play, stories and exploring religious artefacts, boys learn about different religious festivals and local places of worship, coming to understand that there are many different religions and cultures and becoming familiar with the vocabulary associated with their own religion as well as that of others. Throughout their time in the Junior School, via discussion and debate boys begin to express and evaluate their personal beliefs and show tolerance and respect for people of different faiths and cultures. Art, drama and written tasks are just some of the interactive and explorative approaches used to support boys in developing an understanding of the philosophical and ethical debates that are inherent in the study of religion.
In the Middle and Senior Schools Religious Studies covers:
- major Bible narratives of both Old and New Testaments. Boys are supported not only in developing a thorough knowledge of certain texts but as they progress through the school they are also encouraged to demonstrate an ability to analyse the material and begin to think theologically and critically. They also learn to write essays in which they link the themes to contemporary moral issues.
- an introduction to the practice of Christianity. All boys develop an understanding of major feasts and festivals.
- boys learn the basic principles of five other world faiths: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.
- the life and work of various people who have been motivated by their faith (Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Dame Cicely Saunders, for example). The objective of this is in-depth analysis is to support boys in understanding the impact a personal faith can have on a person’s life and work. They also learn to appreciate that religious practice is still very much alive in the modern world.
- in Year 8 boys are introduced to Philosophy of Religion.
Thus, all pupils leaving The Hall should have an understanding of why religion is a major influence on the lives of most people in the world and how the various main religions are practised. They will have been encouraged to develop a tolerant attitude to the beliefs of others and to question appropriately in order to extend debate.
The taught curriculum is further enhanced through exposure to many different religious festivals (such as Ramadan, Eid, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Guru Nanak’s birthday and Christmas) being celebrated with families of boys. Visitors share their faith in assemblies, and experience is further widened through school outings and affiliations with places of worship such as St Peters Church, Belsize, the Belsize Square Liberal Synagogue and local mosques and temples.