Balshaw’s Church of England High School

Religious Education

Religious Education Staff

For more information about the Subject curriculum, please contact: Miss E Preston the Curriculum Leader.

  • Miss E Preston - Curriculum Leader
  • Mr S Riley (Head of Farington)


The Religious Studies department follow the Lancashire Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education and also teach some of the material and content from the Blackburn Diocese Illuminating Pathways Unit. Through the study of RS, we enable students to search for answers to the ultimate and challenging question in life of ‘What does it mean to be human?’. The search for the answers to this question involve numerous challenging and provoking questions such as:


What is God like? Is there a God?

Where do we belong?

What unites us?

Where can we seek truth and meaning?

Where can we find guidance about how to live our lives?

Across key stage three we study all six main religions of the world, exploring different religious responses to key questions. At key stage four currently all students study the syllabus for the AQA short course in Religious Studies exam, focusing on the religions of Christianity and Islam. It is also an option to take a full course GCSE in RS and over the past four years we have been improving the attainment in GCSE RS.

Enrichment plays an important part of study in RS and we have been fortunate enough to hear from a range of engaging and inspirational speakers. In 2016 we welcomed Rudi Oppenheimer who shared his incredibly moving and powerful testimony of his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Some of our students have also taken part in a workshop led by a Holocaust Education Trust representative.

Students have also had the opportunity to take part in a variety of trips. We took a group of students to Westminster, to investigate the role of faith, power and authority there. As part of this we were able to visit the Houses of Parliament and we even got to go in the House of Commons! We then went on to visit the beautiful and historic Westminster Abbey where our students were able to take part in some of the St Edwardtide activities. We had the great honour of meeting the Very Reverend Dr John Hall! Overall it was an experience which our students will never forget and gave them the opportunity to experience first-hand the role which faith and authority plays in Westminster.

Over the last four years there have been various enrichment days which our students have taken part in which have been organised by Blackburn Diocese, such as an RE Treat Day and RE Vision Day. Some of our students have also taken part in able, gifted and talented days at Runshaw College. In lessons students have heard from guest speakers who have come in to talk to students about their faith, such as speakers from Crossgate Community Church and even some speakers who were on a visit from America and also some from the Philippines! This gave students a real insight into how Christianity is practiced around the world.

Synagogue Trip 2015

Alex Melling gives us her account of a recent trip to a Synagogue and Jewish Museum in Manchester:

On Tuesday 30th June, we visited Heaton Park synagogue, and the Jewish Museum in Manchester. I learned a lot in this time, and it was good to return again after a year with more knowledge about the religion itself – I understood the different parts of the synagogue and why they were there much more clearly.

Heaton Park synagogue was founded in 1935, and is now currently led by Rabbi Daniel Walker. By 1999, the synagogue had 550 members, and now has between 500 and 749 members.

During the trip, I learnt that all of the seats in the galleries are numbered, because everyone has their own seat that they rent out until they no longer visit the synagogue for certain reasons, be it moving away, or sadly death. The most prestigious seats are of course at the front, and if somebody stops renting a seat there, then the people in the second row will have the opportunity to rent out that seat. The reason this is done is because on Shabbat Jews can’t carry anything, meaning they can’t carry their prayer equipment to the synagogue, so they will leave it there the day before in specific boxes in front of the seats.

After visiting this synagogue (and eating at Mcdonald’s) we went to the Jewish Museum, formerly a Sephardim synagogue. Unlike the simple and practical Ashkenazim synagogue, this Jewish place of worship that was of Spanish and African origin was much more ornate; everything was decorated, from the pillars standing by the Ark to the supporting barriers of the women’s gallery.

This museum is the only one existing outside of London, located within the oldest surviving synagogue in Manchester. The synagogue was only opened as a museum in 1984, having served as a place of worship since 1874. Around the year 1788, a group of roughly 15 Jewish traders (along with their families) settled into Manchester, thus starting the formation of a Jewish community. The population of this community quickly and steadily grew as more Jews travelled from other countries to live in this City, and this community still lives on to this day.

Alex Melling

Synagogue and Jewish Museum