Religion, Philosophy & Ethics


The Intent of the ‘Philosophy & Ethics’ Curriculum at St Luke’s is to help each student explore how others may live life to the full.  Our curriculum is underpinned by research, including Hay & Nye: Theory of “Spiritual sensitivity” in ‘The spirit of the child’ (2006);  Michael Grimmitt: “Adolescent Life Worlds in a Plural Society” (1987); Wolfram Weisse: “Dialogical RE” (2007); Erricker & Erricker: “Children and Worldview Project” (2000) and Julia Ipgrave: The Project: Redbridge Ambassadors of Faith and Belief (2003).   Our aim is for students to leave St Luke’s School with a greater understanding of who they are as a person through the study of how others choose to live their lives. We do this through looking at how other religions deal with life’s most important moments, questions and greatest challenges. Through the study of Islam, Christianity and Non-religious worldviews, we ask the following questions:

  • Is it possible for a God to exist?
  • How did the world come to exist?
  • When does life begin?
  • How do some people connect with a higher being?
  • What happens to us when we die?
  • How do we decide what is right and wrong?
  • Who should we look to as inspiration for how to live our lives?

Through comparing and contrasting how others from different religions or worldviews choose to live their life, we hope that this will enrich student understanding about how they would like to live their life to the full.  We are committed to quality first teaching to ensure our curriculum meets the needs of all students and we aim to provide extra-curricular and in classroom opportunities for all students to lead activities and contribute to the learning and understanding of others. We prioritise students who may be disadvantaged with targeted support during ‘super teaching’ weeks and by prioritising them as our first port of call in classroom discussion and questioning.  The abstract concepts in our subject and the requirement to place yourself in other people’s shoes can be particularly challenging for some students with SEND.  In these cases, we work with the individual


The intent of our curriculum is implemented through studying a variety of topics related to social, spiritual, relational and academic development in KS3 that prepare for the exam specification in KS4.  We undertake tasks that involve considering and forming a viewpoint on important issues and developing a worldview.  Students have the opportunity to work with and hear from external agencies who can bring the topics to life.  We have high expectations and – in line with the St Luke’s Learning Structure – all students complete two assessed extended writing essays per term and an exam module at the end of each termly cycle.  They will also complete weekly knowledge organiser learning and testing as part of their home learning.

At Key Stage 3, Philosophy and Ethics is taught through the RE element of the Life to the Full curriculum.  Students complete a variety of Philosophy & Ethics topics to prepare them for GCSE. These are explained below:

  • Students complete the recommended Devon Agreed Syllabus ‘Understanding Christianity’ KS3 course that is a continuation from KS1 And KS2 to fully develop their knowledge of Christianity. They do one unit in Year 7 and one in Year 8. This then prepares them for the Christianity element at GCSE.
  • Islam unit in Year 8: pre-teaching for GCSE ‘Muslim Beliefs’ and ‘Living the Muslim Life’
  • World religions unit in Year 7 for deeper understanding of overview of religious behaviour and options
  • Abrahamic religions lesson in Year 7: Essential for GCSE understanding
  • Sikhism in Year 7 and Buddhism in Year 9: Deepening understanding of other religions outside the GCSE which benefits generally understanding of what it means to be a believer
  • Moral issues: Ethical and moral questions that they will look at in GCSE; these are completely different lessons to the ones used at GCSE but are age appropriate and introduce the topic and vocabulary for the students and develops their questioning skills for GCSE. We look at topics that come up in the GCSE such as environment, animal rights, euthanasia so that the GCSE lessons can take a deeper dive in to the issue as they have already acquired the basic understanding. We also look at abortion for PSHE in Year 8 and Year 9.
  • Crime unit: pre-teaching for ‘Crime and punishment’ GCSE unit
  • Evil and suffering unit: pre-teaches key ideas in the Christian and Islamic response to suffering that are needed for ‘Christian Beliefs’ and ‘Muslim Beliefs’


At Key Stage 4, students study two world religions:


  • Christian Beliefs: What do Christians believe?
  • Matters of Life and Death: This includes debates and discussions on topics such as the big bang theory, evolution, animal rights, climate change and the environment, euthanasia, abortion and issues surrounding life after death.
  • Living the Christian life: What is it like to live as Christian in the UK today?
  • Marriage and the family: This includes debates and discussions on topics such as religious and non-religious marriage, cohabitation and monogamy, sexual relationships, different types of family in the UK today, the LGBT+ community, divorce, contraception and family planning and gender equality within the family and society.


  • Muslim beliefs: What do Muslims believe in?
  • Crime and punishment; This includes issues such as the causes behind committing crimes, different attitudes to punishment, the aims of punishments, prisons and the treatment of criminals, forgiveness and the death penalty.
  • Living the Muslim life: What is it like to live as a Muslim in the UK today?
  • Peace and Conflict: This includes issues such as attitudes to conflict, why do we go to war, Just war theory, how can we create peace, the concept of pacifism and the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Our curriculum is also supported and enriched by a trip for each GCSE cohort to places of worship around Exeter including the Mosque, Cathedral and two other Churches of different denominations; participation in the ‘write to a believer’ scheme and participation in Holocaust Memorial Day each year which links to our topic on ‘Evil and Suffering’.


As a Church School, the impact of this curriculum is built into our ethos and values.  Our students enjoy the discussion and debate around faith and morality and this is reflected in their positive progress and student voice.

St Luke’s is a wonderful place; is a school full of staff who are dedicated to improving the life chances of every student that attends the school.

Kealey Sherwood, Headteacher

At St Luke's, we are a Steplab Coaching Hub and use Steplab to power our professional development. To find out more about our approach to instructional coaching, check out this guide. To book a coaching hub visit to our school, email