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Philosophy and Ethics/Philosophy for Life

Subject: Philosophy and Ethics

Subject Leader: Mr S Raettig

Curriculum Leader: Mrs J Wootton


We provide an academic Philosophy and Ethics curriculum that enables students to have the skills, knowledge and understanding to engage in respectful dialogue about philosophical, religious, and ethical issues.  Religion and Philosophy is the foundation of culture and therefore studying religion and philosophy is vital in helping students to understand society’s beliefs, morals, and values. We draw inspiration from the North Yorkshire Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education and fuse this with knowledge, understanding and application of Fundamental British Values. This approach engenders an appreciation of the values that exist within society and allows students to reflect on their own personal beliefs, morals, and values in a safe and supportive environment. 

We want the students at Norton College to become successful learners, confident individuals, and responsible citizens. We achieve this through provoking questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. We want our young people to develop their sense of identity and belonging, and to flourish as individuals within their communities and as citizens in a diverse and global community. Philosophy and Ethics have an important role in preparing students for adult life, employment, and lifelong learning. We aim to enable them to develop respect for, and sensitivity towards others, especially those whose faith and beliefs are different from their own.

The Philosophy and Ethics Department is led by a specialist teacher, ably supported by two additional members of the teaching staff. It is our aim to promote learning in a lively and engaging way that combines fun with academic rigour. Central to the delivery of Philosophy and Ethics is the opportunity to visit places of worship – such local churches, a Sikh Gurdwara and an Islamic Mosque in Bradford and a local Buddhist centre. We also run an overseas residential trip to the Netherlands in Year 8 as a key component in our unit “Where was God in the Holocaust?”

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no-one is watching.” C. S. Lewis


Key Stage 3

Students currently have one lesson per fortnight throughout Years 7-9.

The scheme of work is designed to fit in with the principle aim of engaging students in systematic enquiry into significant human questions which religion and worldviews address. This is to enable students to develop the understanding and skill needed to appreciate and appraise varied responses to these questions, as well as developing responses of their own.


Year 7 - Autumn term

What is Philosophy and Ethics? How can we keep our questioning HOT? What are the Fundamental British Values? Who am I? Personal identity.

Jewish belief and teachings: Understanding God in Jewish history; the concept of free will; why is Hannukah a significant celebration for Jewish people?


Year 7 - Spring term

Jewish belief and teachings: what is the Jewish concept of God? The Jewish creation account and the importance of Shabbat; a chosen people? Significant Jewish women; Moses and the Exodus; The 10 commandments.


Year 7 - Summer term

Sikhism – beliefs and teachings: How did Sikhism begin? Who were the 10 Gurus? What are the 5Ks of Sikhism? What are the holy scriptures of Sikhism? What do Sikhs believe about God? Where and how do Sikhs worship? How do Sikhs express their faith today?


Year 8 - Autumn term

Christian belief and teachings: Links with Judaism, Creation and the Fall; The Trinity; The Incarnation; The life of Jesus; What happened during Holy Week? The crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus; Will Jesus return?


Year 8 - Spring term

Where was God in the Holocaust? What was the Holocaust and what were the events that led up to it? What happened to Jewish people during the Holocaust? Who was Anne Frank and why is she significant? What can we learn from the Holocaust?


Year 8 - Summer term

Should happiness be the purpose of life? What is happiness? How can happiness be measured? Happiness in Christianity – what does the Bible say? What does happiness mean in Buddhism? What is happiness in non-religious worldviews? Is attaining happiness morally acceptable? Where do we find happiness?


Year 9 - Autumn term

Islamic beliefs and teachings: Abrahamic origins; Ibrahim, Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael; the Prophet Muhammad; the Sunni/Shi’a split; the concepts of imamate and tawhid; Islamic perspectives on angels.


Year 9 - Spring term

Is our identity just a label? How does our view of ‘self’ impact on us and others? Sexuality and the objectification of women. What is sexual identity? How does society view being transgender/non-binary?


Year 9 - Summer term

Why is there suffering? Are there any good solutions? What are the different types of suffering? Is suffering a natural human state? Why do ‘good’ people suffer? How can a good God allow suffering? What do Christians believe causes suffering, and how is it solved? What do Buddhists believe causes suffering and how is it solved?

Key Stage 4

All students study a ‘Philosophy for Life’ course in Year 10 only. There is one Philosophy for Life lesson per fortnight. This covers a mixture of themes linked to PSHE content and to religious worldviews; the subject lead works closely with the PSHE Coordinator to ensure high-quality coverage.

In addition, students can opt to study GCSE Religious Studies. We currently follow the AQA GCSE (9-1) Specification A. In Year 10, the focus is mainly on Christian beliefs, teachings, and practice and this is contrasted with Buddhist beliefs, teachings, and practice. Year 11 sees the adoption of a themed-based approach, within which we study religious and secular responses to four contemporary issues. There are five lessons per fortnight for the GCSE Religious Studies option.


Year 10 - Autumn term

GCSE: Christian beliefs, teachings, and practice.

Philosophy for Life: managing expectations. Risky behaviours – including the development of the adolescent brain. Examples of risky behaviour linked to alcohol; cannabis; young drivers and gambling addiction.


Year 10 - Spring term

GCSE: Buddhist beliefs, teachings, and practice.

Philosophy for Life: Is religion a power for peace, or a cause for conflict?


Year 10 - Summer term

GCSE: Completing Buddhist beliefs, teachings, and practice. Introduction to the themed units. Theme A - Relationships and Families.

Philosophy for Life: Is death the end? Does it matter?


Year 11 - Autumn term

GCSE: Theme B – Religion and Life; Theme E – Religion, Crime and Punishment.


Year 11 - Spring term

GCSE: Theme F – Religion, Human Rights and Social Justice. Revision.


Year 11 - Summer term

GCSE: Revision and sitting the end of GCSE examinations