Socrates famously said ‘the unexamined life is not worth living.’ This is a view shared by the Religious Studies Department. We have always lived by the ethos that religious education should be open and exploratory; it should inform, encourage understanding and help pupils to make their own responsible choices.
I have been the Head of Department at Sutton Valence School since September 2008. Philosophy and Ethics is my specialism and I get great satisfaction when I hear a well-formulated and articulated argument; a vital life skill. In fact philosophy is such an integral part of my life that it nourishes my other passions. When I see a 280 yard golf ball fly straight down the fairway, I often think there is design to the universe!
Mr Davies joined Sutton Valence in 2012 as a Religious Studies teacher following careers in the Royal Navy and the legal profession. He has become deeply involved in the spiritual life of the school and is now our lay chaplain, looking to ordination in the future. As a proud Welshman, Mr Davies is a keen rugby union fan and coaches junior rugby with passion and vigour.
Miss Gray is a recent addition to the department. As a new teacher to the profession, the department is enjoying a reinvigoration in cutting-edge teaching strategies. Her passion for Religious Studies stems from her Christian faith. A good all-rounder, Miss Gray is also teaching games and is about to become the Head of Swimming.
The first two years of Religious Studies are devoted to exploring the six major religions, both from a philosophical and inquisitorial perspective. Emphasis is on developing critical thinking skills and intellectual curiosity.
At GCSE we study the short course OCR specification focusing on Philosophy and Ethics. In the Fourth Form we cover ethical issues in the medical profession and human relationships. Students look at contemporary case studies such Tony Nicholson’s fight for the right to die, as well as gay marriage and the Church. In the Fifth Form we study good and evil and the relationship between religion and science. We look at controversial figures such as Professor Richard Dawkins and issues such as, ‘where was God during the Japanese tsunami?’
At A level we teach Philosophy of Religion and Ethics. We typically teach between 30-40 students in Sixth Form. Students find the subject challenging at this level, but rewarding. It is a subject greatly valued in certain professions, notably Law. As it is one of the last truly essay based subjects that requires analytical and critical thinking skills, it provides an important basis for academic study at university.
Head of Department