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Religious Education

According to Pope St John Paul II, Religious Education (RE) is the "core of the core curriculum" (1992, Redemptor Hominis, 8) in a Catholic school and it is helping our school to fulfil its mission to educate the whole person in discerning the meaning of their existence.


The RE Curriculum Directory (2012 p.4) stated that: “Without religious education, students would be deprived of an essential element of their formation and personal development, which helps them attain a vital harmony between faith and culture." Furthermore, the New Religious Education Directory (RED 2023) described RE as the “…source and summit of the whole curriculum.” (p.6 Article 4)

Religion shapes our everyday life from politics and art to law and international relations, and a lack of religious literacy can lead to intolerance and hatred. RE is a core subject at Cardinal Heenan and is at the heart of our school community.

Aims of Religious Education

The RED (2023) states the following aims for Religious Education:

1. to engage in a systematic study of the mystery of God, of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, the teachings of the Church, the central beliefs that Catholics hold, the basis for them and the relationship between faith and life;

2. to enable students continually to deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively;

3. to present an authentic vision of the Church’s moral and social teaching to provide pupils with a sure guide for living and the tools to critically engage with contemporary culture and society;

4. to give students an understanding of the religions and world views present in the world today and the skills to engage in respectful and fruitful dialogue with those whose world views differ from their own;

5. to develop the critical faculties of students so to bring clarity to the relationship between faith and life, and between faith and culture;

6. to stimulate pupils’ imagination and provoke a desire for personal meaning as revealed in the truth of the Catholic faith;

7. to enable students to relate the knowledge gained through religious education to their understanding of other subjects in the curriculum.

Curriculum Intent

The RE curriculum is determined by the Bishops of England and Wales as presented in the RE Curriculum Directory (2012) and the Religious Education Directory (2023). It is our intent for the RE curriculum to engage, inspire, challenge and encourage students, equipping them with the knowledge, understanding and skills to answer and ask challenging questions and to be ready to be valuable citizens and life-long learners both in and beyond school.

Religious Education contributes significantly to the Catholic character of the school and enables students to ask deep and often searching questions about their own faith and belief, and the beliefs, faiths and opinions of others regarding pertinent contemporary moral issues. At Cardinal Heenan, we are committed to helping our young people understand their gifts and their calling in life, and we work closely with our school Chaplain to walk beside our students through their journey in faith.

Key Stage 3 Curriculum

In September 2023, Students in Years 8 and 9 will continue to follow the People of God programme of study, which links directly to, and builds on, the Come and See programme of study used in Catholic primary schools in the Archdiocese of Liverpool. Students in Year 7 will begin the new, To Know Him More Clearly, syllabus. As a Catholic Christian community, the focus is on Church and Gospel values in our modern world, but students will also explore other World Religions, namely Hinduism, Judaism and Islam, in recognition of the UK as a multifaith and multicultural society and of a Church which looks outwards and not inwards. Regular revision and knowledge recall activities coupled with regular formative and summative assessments, encourage students to know more and remember more, whilst also having the opportunity to reflect on their own faith journeys.

Key Stage 4 Curriculum

The curriculum at Key Stage 4 builds on the work started at KS3 and, once again, follows the guidelines laid down by the Bishops of England and Wales. The department chose to follow AQA Religious Studies B (8063) at GCSE.

At Cardinal Heenan, students start the GCSE in the September of Year 10 thereby allowing for a full syllabus at KS3. They follow a two-year programme of study. Students will have the opportunity to explore units in depth allowing also for the development of SMSC across the learning experiences, where appropriate. The focus of the GCSE is on Church, Gospel values and Christian ethics within a modern world. Students will also explore Jewish Beliefs and Practices and how this has influenced Christianity both today and throughout the course of history.

Key Stage 5 Curriculum

Students are expected to attend one lesson per week for our Core RE programme of study in Sixth Form. This is a non-examination pathway with certification provided by the Archdiocese of Liverpool. Students will cover 4 units in Year 12 and three in Year 13 exploring a range of themes including: The Holocaust, Fairtrade, World Religions, Religious Experience and Ethical Issues. They will prepare themselves as global citizens within the context of Christian values whilst exploring such key skills as effective communication, leadership, critical analysis and presenting personal views in a fair and balanced manner supported by reliable evidence.

Note: there is the opportunity for students to study A Level Philosophy and Ethics via Broughton Hall.

Extracurricular Activities

The department works closely with the school Chaplain to provide a Faith in Action Group and from September 2023 we will be introducing a CAFOD and Justice and Peace group in the school focusing on local, national and international issues.

Students are offered the opportunity to actively participate in a prayer, worship and reflection programme across the year including Wednesday Morning Reflection, half-termly Mass, Stations of the Cross, experiential activities and retreats.


Useful Websites


Christian Aid:

Pax Christi:

Justice and Peace Commission:

Catholic Education Service (CES):

Archdiocese of Liverpool:

AQA GCSE Religious Studies Specification B:

Animate Youth (Liverpool Archdiocese):

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