For RE & Philosophy teachers there are a number of good reasons to cover Buddhism at KS3 and/or KS4.
At KS3, Buddhism contributes to the school’s SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual & Cultural) remit, but (perhaps more than any other religion) it contributes to PSHE and mental-health awareness due to it’s focus on the causes and means to ending psychological suffering. Every few years there’s a ‘meditation in school’ media fad: having Buddhism as a permanent fixture of KS3 RE/P4C teaching allows a more sustained way of introducing meditation to young people.
Buddhism represents an appealing way of fostering engagement with students who:
a) dislike more dogmatic and faith-based approaches to religion and philosophy
b) are ‘spiritual but not religious’, agnostic or atheist
c) dislike the “conformist” aspects of other faiths and worldviews
It is my general view that RE teachers have a duty to cover religions aside from those that have flourished in The West, or that share the same historic background (i.e. The Abrahamic Faiths). This is to foster intercultural understanding, religious tolerance, but more generally: to encourage students to keep an open-mind about the answers to ultimate truths and to expose them to radically different philosophies and philosophical possibilities.
At KS4, Buddhism is an excellent choice for a religion for students to contrast with Christianity: it is atheistic, with a radically different philosophy and attitude to Ultimate Truths, and has radically different afterlife beliefs. For many students: understanding the nuances of Abrahamic faiths and their differences will be more difficult than simply comparing two radically different traditions.
Teachers wishing to cover Buddhism at KS4 can find a great resource pack by clicking here.
Teachers wishing to cover Buddhism at KS3 can find a great resource pack by clicking here.