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Unit 4.2: Saints and heroes

Key Question: What makes a hero?

About this unit

This unit provides opportunity to explore lives of faith members who have performed heroic deeds or dedicated their lives to a cause and to consider the concept of commitment.

Include past and present saints and heroes from different world faiths, starting with the local.  There are opportunities to link with aspects of history and citizenship and to build upon work in Unit 2.1: Belonging.   

Resources: texts, posters and film clips of the actions of saints, heroes and modern-day people of Christian and other faiths, who have lived their lives dedicated to an altruistic cause.

RE Learning Cycle
Unit 4.2: Saints and heroes
Programme of study Teaching and learning outcomes (AT1) Teaching and learning outcomes (AT2)
Identity & values

explore commitment as demonstrated in the lives and work of significant people of faith

Beliefs & practices

explore teachings of significant religious people

describe the effect of life-changing events on the commitment of significant people of faith

describe the teachings of significant religious people, identifying some similarities and differences

share ideas as to how the lives of significant people of faith have affected the lives of others

reflect on the teachings of significant religious people and how these teachings impact on society

In addition to viewing the individual sections 1-7 below, you may scroll to the bottom of the page to download the full unit as a PDF. You may also download the corresponding PDF of the Burning Core (S) version.

What heroes or saints can pupils name?

What are the characteristics of a hero? Talk about what makes a saint or a hero.

Who might be heroes in the local community?

Devise ‘success criteria’ for a saint or a hero.
Introduce pupils to one or two people of faith who have shown great commitment to a cause.

Use the class success criteria to identify whether these people might be saints, or are they heroes? Is there a difference?
Where are saints’ names found in the local community?

What is a saint? How does a person become one?

How are local or national saints remembered? Why?

Are all saints Christian? What title is given to the ‘saints’ of other faiths?

What inspires some people to commit their lives to an altruistic cause?

What can we learn about commitment from the lives of significant people of faith?

What impact may a person’s actions have on the lives of others?
Share information about a local saint (where possible)

Discover the process of becoming a saint today

Introduce examples of significant people of faith who demonstrate commitment to a cause

Explore actions against poverty in the world from a Christian organisation and one from a different faith
Discuss who are our heroes; why? What are the key characteristics of a hero?

Explore the life and work of a local saint; consider why they were made a saint; what are the key characteristics of a saint?

Compare the actions of a historical Christian and a modern day hero; investigate the life-changing events of significant people of faith and their impact

Consider what has influenced and inspired significant religious people to commit to a cause

Compare the teaching of two or more significant people of different faiths
On a map of the local area, identify streets and places with the names of saints or heroes; talk about what these individuals represent

Devise a media presentation on the life of a saint, traditional or modern day hero

Create a class book or display of saints and heroes

Hotseat a significant person of faith; interview them to find out why they acted as they did, run a ‘conscience alley’ as to whether they should or should not have acted in certain way

Choose a poem, prayer, song, teaching or quote of a significant person of faith - share thoughts about its teaching; what impact did their teaching have in their lifetime and what impact might their teachings have now?

Freeze-frame a life-changing moment for a key religious person; discuss its impact

Celebrate a worthy life in the style of This is your Life!

Film a diary-style blog in the role of a key figure of faith exploring some key events in their life-explore their own feelings during these events and what inspired and influenced them

Tweet or Blog as a significant saints or heroes reflecting their cause, belief or a significant event in their lives
Reflect on the heroes and ‘saints’ at a local community, national and global level, including people in the modern world; suggest someone who deserves a ‘heart of gold’ award

Pupils think about who or what inspires me and why

Consider the significance of a local saint or person who has worked hard for the local community; what were their motives and what long-term impact have they had?

Express thoughts about how the actions of significant people of faith can change lives for the better and still influence others long after their death


Highlighted text indicates how this unit contributes to overall End of Key Stage attainment.

 AT1 (Knowledge & understanding)  AT2 (Reflection & response)
Describe and show understanding of links between stories, beliefs and practices of faith communities specified in the key content
Respond thoughtfully to a range of sacred writings and the beliefs, teachings and practices of different faith communities
specified in the key content
Show understanding of how beliefs, practices and forms of expression influence individuals and communities
Give reasons for the significance of beliefs, practices and forms of expression to individual members and faith communities
Show understanding of the challenges of commitment to a community of faith Suggest why belonging to a community of faith may be valuable, both to faith members and in their own lives
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