Newstead Wood School

Newstead Wood School

Learning to Fly

These are the skills and habits which outstanding students of Religious Studies develop. Do as many of these as possible to become completely independent in the subject and to develop the skills and knowledge needed to attain 8/9 at GCSE and A* at A Level. Remember that just doing what your teacher tells you - in your lessons and beyond - is not enough to develop your full potential in the subject.

In your lessons

  • Asking questions is a positive thing! Try asking more questions in lessons.
  • Contributing to class discussion – volunteer your ideas/opinions and comment on those of others to help to develop your thinking skills.
  • Think carefully about your opinions and try to justify them with reasoning and argument.
  • Think critically about ideas – try to identify strengths, weaknesses and contradictions.
  • Make thorough notes. Whether you have a powerpoint/handout to annotate or are working on lined paper, always jot down additional information/ideas that your teacher or classmates raise during the lesson.
  • Make connections with other topics/subjects or news items.

RS involves lots of pair and group work. This is a crucial part of your learning and not an opportunity for a rest! Experiment with different ideas and stay on task.


Between your lessons

  • Reading - Don’t rely purely on one textbook. You will be provided with additional reading materials in class and via Intouch. Always read these fully and make notes on them. Try to bring up this wider reading in class and in your essays.
  • Ensure you have a list of practice questions for each topic from your teacher, the examboard website or from the textbook. Identify the most challenging and produce plans or write the essays out to ensure you are prepared for even the trickiest questions. Hand these plans and essays to your teachers for marking. They will be more than happy to do so.
  • When you receive marked work, improve it until it would receive full marks. If you don’t know how, ask your teacher or another student whom you consider an ‘expert’.
  • Review and analyse model answers. Identify strengths and weaknesses of the essays and use them the next time you are completing an answer.

Always start your homework in good time so that you have time and space to think about the ideas and discuss with family and friends.  


Beyond your lessons

  • Be tenacious in asking your teachers for extra help and asking for an appointment to see them outside of lessons.
  • Visit the well-stocked RS section of the school library. Ask Mrs Cheyne for details of new arrivals and your teachers for recommendations which suit your particular interests.
  • Watch Ted talks by contemporary philosophers such as Peter Singer or Sam Harris.
  • Listen to podcasts such as Panpsycast or Philosophy Bites.
  • Attend free lectures in London such as those run by the Royal Society of Philosophy.
  • There are a couple of great journals for RS A Level – you could either subscribe yourselves or back copies are kept in the library: Dialogue, RS Review, Philosophy Now.
  • Read news article and try to spot stories with a religious, ethical or philosophical angle. Try to use them as examples in your essays.

Discuss your ideas with family and friends. See if you can persuade them to agree with you.