Revising for the Year 8 RE Summer Exam

Year 8 have given themselves a really good grounding in RE this year with the two units: What does it mean to be a Christian, and, What does it mean to be a Muslim. These two updated units were specifically designed to drip some of the new GCSE Religious Studies into Key Stage 3 so when students get to Year 10 and 11, they’ll understand a lot already!

We also have the Caring for Others, Genesis (creation and environment) and Suffering and Evil units to revise for the summer exam.

Here are some things to watch from BBC Bitesize Learning to get you started:


India’s Dying River

It can be difficult when you learn a lot of subject specific keywords at school, perhaps you do a homework using them, even a lesson or two more when you need to know them, and last of all an assessment to check you’ve remembered them, and then two months later you have completely forgotten what they were and what they meant.

Well if you’ve just been learning about river basins, the source of the river, tributaries, meanders, oxbow lakes, delta, estuaries and the mouth of a river – here’s a handy and colourful BBC guide to the pollution which is slowing killing the River Ganges  in India. You’ll read it and suddenly realise that all that language which you learnt in Geography has helped you understand the article. Go Geography!


It isn’t just Geography though where knowing about the River Ganges is useful; it is also a holy river in Hinduism.


Hindu devotees pray as they bathe.

Timely article for Year 8 about Evil

We used to learn about Evil and Suffering in Year 9 as a preparation for the GCSE Religious Studies course but this year we’ve moved it down to Year 8 and made it tougher too!? We have to thank all this on the new GCSE syllabus which starts being studied this summer as it’s been made a whole lot more difficult. With my yellow De Bono thinking hat on this will be great as students will have better RS knowledge when they move onto their A’ Levels and been challenged to think more during our two year course of study.


But back to evil! BBC Earth investigates how evil has evolved and why it has managed to persist. It studies evil in different animals and questions whether being evil can be an advantage in certain situations.  As we’ll study in class ‘evil’ does have religious connotations as it relates to ideas of morality and actions against the will of a divine being (God). But in its original form it just means anything that is simply bad, vicious or cruel.

There are plenty of useful YouTube clips which explain the problem of evil and suffering:

  • A GCSE clip lasting 3 minutes with written facts, thought provoking images and music you can’t beat this updated video
  • This American clip is generally easy to understand with its cartoons.
  • For an A Level introduction lasting 5 minutes there’s MrMcMillanREvise

Which 5 animals are close to extinction?

In Year 8 RE we’re looking at creation stories, stewardship, animal rights and battery hens this half-term. We’ve talked in class about which animals have their welfare protected by the law and which animals are lawfully allowed to be used in scientific experiments. Debating whether animals and humans are equal as well as thinking about self-consciousness and autonomy, has led some students to really think about which animals of the world need special protection because they’re so few in number.

The BBC iwonder series have a superb investigation, perfectly timed for us, about which 5 species are most under threat in the world, as well as links to mini-documentaries  and articles about zoos and Charles Darwin.

Proud or concerned: UK one of the world’s biggest aid donors


As the Year 8 students in RE begin their new topic about wealth and poverty there is a timely report on how much aid the UK government gives to overseas less economically developed places.

In terms of pure donation sums from the British government, only the US gives more. Whereas in relation to aid donation as a percentage of a nation’s income only Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark give a higher amount than the UK. Are you feeling pride or concern?

The United Nations actually set a target for countries to give at least 0.7% of their gross national income – only five countries in the world achieved this in 2014. The UK was one of the them. As most rich economies are getting wealthier and wealthier they are mostly donating less (as a percentage of their income) to the LEDC’s of the world. For example the US only gives 0.18% of its national income as aid, whereas the UK gives 0.71%.



An introduction to Islam

With Year 8 students about to study ‘What it means to be a Muslim’ and GCSE students always trying to grapple with Islamic teachings for their studies, perhaps it’s time to watch some video clips and bring our knowledge of Islam up to scratch! Next time we’ll have some reading to do, for the time being let’s watch some video clips (of varying quality).

Israel carries out air raids on Gaza, Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities


The West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza Strip make up Palestine at the moment. Borders and statehood are not fixed but regularly being questioned and changed.

As students discover when studying about the Israeli- Palestine conflict in Year 8 RE, some conflicts are complicated and bubble on, killing and injuring people, year after year after year. In recent weeks there have been kidnappings and murders from both sides, and now we have rocket attacks taking place.

The latest BBC report shows how the tit for tat killings has escalated:

Smoke and flames are seen following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in Gaza Strip

This picture was taken 19 hours ago, showing the rocket attacks on the Gaza Strip.