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A-level Religious Studies

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by NQT45, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. I am due to begin the OCR Philosophy and Ethics A-level course in September with our first Yr 12 cohort.
    I will be teaching both the Philosophy and the Ethics to the students. Does anyone else do this?
    My question is - should I teach Philosophy for 2/5 lessons pw and Ethics for 2/5 pw or would it be better to teach a full Philosophy unit, then a full Ethics unit or try to complete all of the Philosophy content followed by all of the Ethics content (which I think is a potentially lethal option based on their lack of memory!)?
    I have little in the way of advice from anyone above me, so thought it best to ask experienced colleagues on here.Even if you are not the A-level teacher, but it is delivered in your school, all answers/ advice will be helpful!
  2. hi nqt, we have 2 teachers (1 philosophy; 1 ethics) with one of us having 3 hours a week; the other 2. Students then take both exams in June.
    We then follow pattern through A2 which helps the students as there are quite a few links between the phil & ethics units at A2 and they are taught alongside each other.
  3. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Hi NQT45. I have always done it the way surferboy has until this year. My colleague was on maternity leave and so I had to teach all the A level. I taught both lots all the ethics and then did a Janauary entry. I then did all the philosophy and kids sat Philosophy in June. This was very successful in the sense that the results for January were really good and it avoided them having to sit a 3 hour exam. Downside is that this would be hard to split between 2 teachers. I think it might be possible to split the Ethics and Philosphy for the Y13s between 2 of us but I don't think it will be possible with y12s as it is more of a culmulative knowledge. Also, you do have to judge it on the kids . Our y12s were of a good ability this year and coped well with a Janaury exam but I do think that for some it would be too much too soon to do a January entry. It was also quite stressful tying to get half the course in by Xmas. As I say I have followed surferboy's way until this and it was fine - the only real downside being that 3 hour exam - very unfair as no-one else has a 3 hour exam anymore but that's another story!
  4. Hi

    Thanks for your responses! I will be teaching the whole thing myself rather than splitting it with a colleague, so I am just trying to find ways of structuring it as I am teaching both elements. We won't have a 2nd teacher any time soon, so the logistics of splitting it won't be an issue!
    The idea of doing the Ethics exam in the January appeals in that it gets part of the course under their belt, but at the same time I am not convinced that our students will be able to handle an exam that soon.
    I am now debating assigning, for example Monday's double lesson to Philosophy and remaining 3 periods to Ethics, so that they follow a similar pattern to schools where they have 2 teachers and can sit that hideous 3 hour exam in June.
    To say that I am becoming nervous about the practicalities would be an understatment.
    Thanks for your advice!

    Any more suggestions/ comments will be more than welcome :)
  5. I was in your position two years ago - single person teaching Yr12, setting up a department.

    I decided to teach Philosophy first then Ethics. All sat the Philosophy paper in January and then those who needed to resit did so in June alongside the Ethics paper. It worked well for us, although in hindsight I'd have done the Ethics first - the Philosophy was rather heavy for some!!

    Unfortunately for my class there was a clash with psychology on the day of the exam (in Jan and June!), and the college got the pupils to sit the psychology first then do the RS. It was very tough on those students as they had to spend their entire day in the hall and did have an impact on grades.

    I considered splitting it but decided that was not worth it for me or the students at that point. Had I been based on that site (was working on two sites) solely teaching KS5 I may have chosen differently.
  6. OckhamsRazor

    OckhamsRazor New commenter

    I think if you DO go for a January entry you should do Philosophy first. Philosophy at AS is easier to learn (short bursts of topics) and the ethics material (esp. the theories) carries directly over to A2, so I would actually start with ethics A2.

    When I taught it all myself, and did June entries, last I didn't assign particular lessons to Phil and Eth. I taught it topic by topic. Actually helped with the building blocks of the subject in some ways- they could grasp philosophical principles much faster.

    But only you know your kids!!
  7. lam


    I don't teach OCR (I do EDEXCEL) so what I say may be of less relevance to you, but here's my twopenneth!

    Personally, I would teach the philosophy first and then the ethics. We have found that with the ethics, students find it harder to structure their essays, they're more likely to try and evaluate in their part As or just to rant / argue rather than debate a position. We have therefore found it easier to 'train' students in how to write essays with philosophy essays before letting them loose on the ethics questions.

    Also, if I were teaching all of the course, I would just stick to one topic at a time. For some reason when you try doing two topics with one teacher concurrently, they seem to forget their work / bring the wrong material and so on... Its easier just to teach one topic at a time and then move on (In my experience).

    Good luck with it though, and I hope you find something that works for you!
  8. Thank you all for your responses!
    It is so helpful to hear about other people's experiences of the A-level and I feel like I am making an informed decision.
    OckhamsRazor - did you enter yours for both exams in June (no Jan entry)? If so, how successful was it?
    I do agree with all of you that teaching one topic at a time will be much less confusing for the kids.
    Thanks again for your ideas.
  9. causabon99

    causabon99 New commenter

    I'd teach philosophy first, and enter them for the examination in January, which allows for possible re-take in June. Then Ethics for June. This is what we do at our school, and although we have two teachers for the subject, we split the Philosophy and Ethics units between both in the Autumn and Spring terms respectively.
    A good reason for completing the Philosophy paper material first is that the grounding in Plato, Aristotle and the Judaeo Christian concept of God, underpin virtually everything else. The Arguments for God's existence are either Aristotelian or Platonic in thrust, and when Ethics is approached, a grounding in Aristotle helps with Natural Law and Platonism with concepts of ethical absolutism and objectivity, and the role of Reason.
    I've taught my way round this and other philosophy courses, and I think that this approach works.


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