at Cockermouth School

Personal Development and Religious Studies

The Personal Development Department aims to offer an exciting, stimulating and thought provoking experience to all students. Personal Development is about the personal, social, moral, spiritual and political development of pupils and is a vehicle through which we prepare our students for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life both now and in the future. We seek to enable students to develop the qualities and attributes pupils need to thrive as individuals, family members and members of society.  The department is committed to promoting respect, tolerance and a sense of value and equality in the students of Cockermouth School. 

Through our Personal Development programme which is taught as a discrete subject in all years we deliver four subjects, these are Religious Studies, Personal Social, Health and Economic Education, Citizenship and Careers Education. As well as content much emphasis is placed on the development of skills including communication, resilience, critical enquiry, advocacy, empathy and participation. Assessment is based on 5 key skills strands – knowledge, spoken advocacy, written analysis, active citizenship and research and presentation.

Key Stage 3

Year 7

Our Year 7 courses opens with an introduction to the PD programme. After an initial assessment of the students’ knowledge, we focus on the skills students will use and develop throughout the PD course, including philosophical enquiry (P4C), debate and discussion, presentation skills and mindfulness. Our second area of focus is Identity during which students consider who they are, their talents, beliefs and attitudes. It is at this point that we will focus on aspects of puberty and healthy lifestyles. From here we explore the relationships students have including family and friendships. It is here that we will address issues such as bullying and peer pressure. We move onto an exploration of our local and national community and a reflection on the faith communities represented herein.

Year 8

During Year 8 we broaden the focus to a spiritual, political and ethical exploration of the wider world. We begin the year with an exploration of Human Rights and students will have an opportunity to study a human rights campaigner of their choice.  In our second unit our focus turns to Diversity, we consider how some people and groups are subject to discrimination and the implications this has on the individual and community. Having introduced students to the basic tents of religion in Year 7, in year 8 we focus on the study of the Islamic faith. Teenage Challenges is the theme of our next area of study during which we consider the responsibilities that go with getting older and the choices they have to make relating to relationships, smoking, alcohol and drugs. Our final unit of this year is Environmental ethics during which we explore the impact human behaviour has on the world and the necessity of taking steps to protect it for future generations.

Year 9

In Year 9 students are introduced to Religious philosophy and contemplate the existence of God, the relationship between science and religion, the afterlife and the problem of evil. Complementing this philosophical study we turn to an exploration of ethical issues and consider the response of both religious groups and humanists to the issues as well as expressing personal opinion. As part of Relationships and sex education, focus will turn to an understanding of the age of consent, the risks associated with early sexual activity and child sexual exploitation. Building on work undertaken in 7 and 8 further work will be completed drugs and alcohol awareness. Democracy, Law and Justice is our final theme of year 9.

Key Stage 4

Year 10and 11

Our KS4 course aims to prepare students for the coming years and life beyond school. We focus on aspects of self- esteem and promote strategies to look after both physical and mental health. We build on aspects of relationship and sex education including pregnancy and parenthood. We examine issues of equality and extremism and provide opportunities to explore issues current at the time. There will be much focus on career paths beginning in Year 10 with preparation for work experience and extending into Year 11 as we support students in preparation for apprenticeship and post -16 applications and interviews.

Outside the classroom

The department has active Philosophy, LGBT and Amnesty groups. We have strong links with students from different parts of the UK and other countries through School linking project. We also offer a sanctuary centre for students at lunch time.