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Unit 6.1: Justice and freedom

Key Question: Is it fair?

About this unit

This Unit provides opportunities for pupils to explore and explain the concepts of justice and freedom; how justice is significant in the stories from religions and in secular life; to consider what religions teach about forgiveness and how reconciliation may take place. 

This unit has strong links with citizenship and personal and spiritual development (check for curriculum overlap).

Resources: teachings from Christianity and other faiths about justice and freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation -

The Prodigal Son, Jonah and the Whale, Jesus’ teaching about justice (Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 7:12; RE:Quest – Key Teachings of Jesus;

People who have fought for justice and freedom such as Martin Luther King “I have a dream” speech; Rosa Parks

People who have demonstrated forgiveness: Desmond Tutu, Terry Waite, Nelson Mandela, The community of Corrymeela, Prince Charles and Sinn Fein (May 2015)

RE Learning Cycle
Unit 6.1: Justice and freedom
Programme of study Teaching and learning outcomes (AT1) Teaching and learning outcomes (AT2)
Identity & values

explore issues of justice and freedom

explore religious teachings of forgiveness and reconciliation

describe what freedom means to people of faith

show understanding of the beliefs and feelings of faith members who have experienced injustice

identify the impact of a religious teaching such as forgiveness on a believer’s actions

identify the impact that reconciliation has on community harmony

explain what freedom means to them

share experiences of injustice and explain their hopes and dreams for a just world

give examples of conflicts that have been resolved within the family, school or community

appreciate the power of forgiveness and reconciliation in the world 

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.

“It’s not fair!” Select a group of pupils based on eye colour and give them special treatment – sit them at the front, praise them, make them the centre of your attention for two or three minutes, and continue until someone identifies unfair treatment; discuss with the class how it feels to be treated differently

Provide opportunity for pupils to talk about their experiences of fairness and what is not fair; talk about personal justice - 'playing fair' with others, respecting others' rights, acting responsibly and fairly with the people we meet each day

Saying sorry! When? What is the difference between saying sorry and meaning it?

Consider the practice of restorative justice in school
Listen to a protest song, consider the words, what do the lyrics say about the issue?

Focus on bringing religious concerns into the discussion
Provide a stimulus to generate questions from pupils (perhaps using a P4C approach) and use some of these examples:

  • • Can an individual make a difference? (to issues of social justice and global inequality for example)
  • • What does freedom mean to people of faith and to those with no faith?
  • • What would the world be like without forgiveness? Is it easy to forgive? What do religions teach about forgiveness?
  • • What is meant by reconciliation; how can people be reconciled?
  • • What are pupils’ hopes and dreams for justice? (school, community, world)
Investigate issues of personal, social and global injustice; provide examples to show how people of faith work to address such issues

Read or hear about times when people of faith have been treated unjustly

Jesus’ teaching about justice: Sermon on the Mount; Parables of the Good Samaritan and the Unforgiving Servant, Jesus healing the leper, Jesus speaking about the unfairly treated - women, children and non-Jews

Joseph and his brothers (exemplifies justice, freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation)

Explore the teaching of forgiveness in two or more faiths

The work of Corrymeela in Northern Ireland – find out about people helped by the Corrymeela Community
Using some of the suggested resources, explore the notion of freedom of action; analyse the meaning of freedom, using examples from both faith stories and for believers today

Explore faith members’ motivation behind their commitment to resolve issues of injustice (link to key beliefs)

Contrast contemporary examples of inequality for members of different faiths

Explore ways in which a person of faith has demonstrated forgiveness and reconciliation; find out why they acted in this way

Consider the impact of online petitioning in making change (38 degrees, Avaaz…)
Complete the statements Justice is… and Freedom is…for a T-shirt design

On a picture/model of the scales of justice, place on one side an issue of injustice, and discuss whether it is ever possible to balance the scales

Hotseat a person of faith whose life demonstrates forgiveness and reconciliation

Roleplay a scenario portraying an incident of forgiveness and reconciliation

Debate a current issue of justice and freedom; make a response – letter to local MP, petition, demonstration

Compose a group peace prayer or song using a model such as Make me a Channel of Your Peace, Peace, Perfect Peace, Pipes of Peace (McCartney), Shalom Aleichem, Shalom Hevirm

Look at seeds and discuss what they grow into; what would flowers of peace look like? Design a seed packet for ‘Seeds of Peace’ showing what they would look like when grown. Make plant labels explaining what the seeds of love /peace need to grow well - dos and don’ts

Select someone to receive a Nobel Peace Prize and say why they deserve the award

Create a classroom tree on which to hang hopes and dreams for a fairer world
Pupils talk about what freedom means to me and to people of faith

Think about someone who is/was a peacemaker; why do/did they act as they do/did?

Do we Give Peace a Chance?

Reflect upon how forgiveness and reconciliation can change lives of both victim and perpetrator

Consider what it takes to make a just society


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

 AT1 (Knowledge & understanding) AT2 (Reflection & response)
Identify ways in which diverse communities can live together for the wellbeing of all Respond thoughtfully to ideas about community, values and respect
Articulate the responses of different religions to ethical questions, including ideas about what is right and wrong and what is just and fair Discuss and apply their own and others’ ideas about ethical questions, including ideas about what is right and wrong and what is just and fair, and express their own ideas clearly in response
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