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Religious Education



Mr John McCloskey (Head of Department)

Ms. Anne Hughes (Head of Department – Junior RE)

Mrs Louise Clarke

Mr. Liam Mc Kenna

Mrs Claire McCaffrey

Mrs. Fionnuala Sloan

Mrs Nicola McCarry

Mrs A Fox

Miss Rhea Smyth

Key Stage 3


All students follow a course of study which aligns with the themes of Fully Alive and is compliant with the Northern Ireland Core Curriculum.


Lessons are active and engaging. Students are encouraged to approach their learning with curiosity and enthusiasm. In turn, they are taught to think deeply about key issues and consider a range of viewpoints to issues that cause division. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of Catholic beliefs and teachings as well as studying a range of religious and non-religious viewpoint, preparing them to make meaningful contributions in a multifaith society.


Cross-curricular skills are at the heart of each lesson. Students will learn to think critically, communicate effectively and work well with others. They will build the ability to make sustained and reasoned arguments. Students will also be provided with opportunities to develop a sense of social justice through their learning and wider opportunities in the College.


In Year 8, students begin by exploring the theme of personal and collective identity and the history and role of our diocesan College. Beyond this, they study the role of the bible in the lives of believers. In term 3, students learn about Judaism, its history, practices, beliefs, and the experiences of Jewish people in Ireland. This unit finishes with a visit to Belfast Synagogue, where students are given a tour and the opportunity to ask questions.


In Year 9, students begin with a philosophical exploration of creation, origins and purpose. They look at our role as stewards of creation and how this extends to environmental ethics, climate justice and animal rights. In term 2, students consider the causes and consequences of division within the Christian community, including the Great Schism and the Reformation, as well as the issues that bring Christians together. A key element of this unit is a visit to our neighbouring churches in Gilnahirk. In term 3, students learn about the origins, beliefs and practices of Hinduism.


In Year 10, students consider values and virtue ethics. They then put these values into action when considering prejudice and discrimination. In term 2, students explore the religion of Islam, culminating in a visit to the Belfast Islamic Centre. Finally, students have the opportunity to further develop their sense of social justice when learning about human rights and the needs of others.


Key Stage 4


All students in Senior School are entered for the CCEA GCSE Religious Studies examination. Students undertake a two year course of study of the following papers (each worth 50% of the overall GCSE):

  • Unit 4: Christianity through a Study of Matthew’s Gospel

  • Unit 6: An Introduction to Christian Ethics


Post 16


A significant number of students in Upper School take up GCE Religious Studies, which follows the CCEA specification.


The following modules are offered:

Textual Studies

AS 1 An Introduction to the Gospel of Luke Luke’s gospel

A2 1 Themes in the Synoptic Gospels

AS 3 An Introduction to Themes in the Old Testament

A2 3 Themes in the Old Testament


Systematic Study of One Religion

AS 5 The Celtic Church in Ireland in the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Centuries

A2 5 Themes in the Celtic Church, Reformation and Post-Reformation Church


Religion and Ethics

AS 7 Foundations of Ethics with Special Reference to Issues in Medical Ethics

A2 7 Global Ethics


Those students who do not opt for the GCE Religious Studies follow a modular programme designed to be a Programme for Christian Citizenship. The following modules are offered.

  • Spirituality

  • Making moral decisions

  • Seeking God

  • Human rights issues


In recent years, the College has successfully piloted a new post-16 programme of study designed by the Diocese of Down and Connor. The programme, named Cephas, is a faith-formation course of study which explores themes such as:


  • Personal identity & modern society

  • Peace and reconciliation

  • Caring for creation

  • Mission to the poor


The course also requires students to complete a project related to their studies and linked to the idea of social justice.




The Religious Education Department encourages and supports the following clubs and societies within the College:

  • Chaplaincy

  • Saint Vincent de Paul

  • Trócaire


Building external relationships is at the core of the Religious Education Department. We have worked hard to develop links with our neighbouring churches. We also work closely with our neighbouring communities of other faiths to ensure that our teaching is fully representative of our student body. This benefits our students through:


  • Christian Unity Week assemblies delivered by Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church, Gilnahirk Baptist Church, St Dorothea’s Church of Ireland and Braniel Methodist Church

  • Educational visits to Gilnahirk Presbyterian and Baptist churches

  • The delivery of lessons on the teaching of Jesus by the Scripture Union

  • A visit from the Gideon’s Society where New Testaments are given to all Year 8 students

  • Educational visits to the Belfast Synagogue

  • Educational visits to the Belfast Islamic Centre


The Department contributes to the liturgical life of the College through the coordination and planning of assemblies and through its collaboration with Down and Connor Diocesan societies to promote faith programmes.

The Retreat Programme


The College’s Retreat Programme is integral to the whole R.E programme. We are blessed to have the service of Sr Marie Doyle to provide plan, facilitate and lead retreats.


In Junior School, each student has the opportunity for a retreat experience once per year. Each year follows a particular theme.

  • Year 8: God has big plans for you

  • Year 9: I have called you by your name – looking at gifts and talents

  • Year 10: I am unique – made in the image and likeness of God


In Year 12, students are provided with the opportunity to take time out from their busy studies and reflect and pray together on retreat. This retreat is held externally, giving students the separation between a busy study year and their spiritual development.


Year 14 students are able to reflect on their journey at the College with a morning retreat which explores the theme of identity in society. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to consider how much they have grown in their seven years at the College and to reflect and pray together before taking the next step in their lives.

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