No Rest for the Weekend!

It was a busy weekend for over 200 RE teachers, including a number of Edge Hill mentors  and former students Paul Jones, Ben Davies, Nichola Rodden and Kerril Casey.  They gathered for a weekend of inspiring workshops and seminars led by some of the country’s leading figures in RE, including our own Paul Smalley, and friends of the department such as Lat Blaylock, Alan Brine, Helen Harrison and Emma McVittie.  The event was the 11th RE Teacher Weekend organised by the newly merged Culham St. Gabriel’s Trust.

The Weekend focussed on five themes:

  • Assessment and Pupil Progress: access and respond to the latest thinking on robust, humane and authentic assessment for learning.
  • Classroom and Community: world class ideas for stimulating RE in, through, and beyond the four walls.
  • Attitudes, Values, and Impact: prepare to make the case for RE providing key evidence for the new Ofsted framework.
  • School Improvement: RE has the potential to be a key driver for school improvement with the focus on higher order thinking, speaking and listening, and the wider achievement indicators for learners.
  • Innovative Curriculum: How can we push the boundaries? What are learners saying? What can we learn from other curriculum areas? What would a first class curriculum look and feel like?

Delegates were given the opportunity to attend four of the seminars and a ‘National Updates’ session, as well as having some fine food and wine on the Saturday night.  Paul’s seminars were on ‘Risky, Edgy RE’ and ‘Concept Led Lessons’ and he also presented a joint session with Emma McVittie on ‘Cross-curricular Visualisations’ which you can see below.

Experiencing Dharma in Bradford

On Friday 28th September, PGCE trainees braved the long hike up the M62 and over the Pennines to enjoy a memorable day meeting faith representatives of the dharmic traditions in Bradford. Our first visit was to the highly impressive Shree Laxmi Narayan Mandir on Leeds road where our faith tutor, Seema, provided us with a brilliant, lucid overview of what she considered the five main principles of Hindu dharma. Seema has a real gift in making very complex ideas down to earth and accessible. We all felt this was the perfect refresher of our subject knowledge. We were also able to enjoy prashad and to participate in the morning service led by the priest. Hearing the hymns and witnessing the fire blessing made this a very special experience for all of us.

Next stop was Bombay stores shopping for artefacts and then on to the Gurdwara Singh Sabha. We were greeted enthusiastically by our Sikh faith tutors,a husband and wife team, who led us through to the prayer hall. We enjoyed a peaceful moment of quiet meditation before our tutors explained the significance of the Guru Granth Sahib to us and the meaning of Sikh Dharma in their lives. I was particularly impressed by the teaching of Guru Nanak to always ‘retain your humanity’, a beautiful teaching explained by our faith tutor. Seeing the kirpan and ther khanda and hearing the readings of the Granth Sahib and the kirtan were real high points of the visit. Trainees were also treated to some authentic Sikh musicianship and we learnt about the role of music in the tradition.

RE Postgraduates are now equipped with stories to tell and some excellent photographs to use in their RE teaching.