An Inclusive Education

Year One Undergraduates were able to spend a morning in one of our Partnership High schools to begin to see how the school makes sure that all pupils make progress.

The morning at Lathom High School began with Trevor Hodson, Assistant Headteacher for teaching and learning, describing how RE had moved away from its former identity as the ‘Cinderella Subject’ and was now as rigorous and challenging as any other subject.  He showed how serving teachers are expected to make sure that all pupils are making progress throughout the lesson, by using an example year 8 RE lesson that he had recently taught.

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Following Trevor, was Jenny Clarke, a Graduate of Edge Hill’s Undergraduate RE teaching course, who in four years has progressed to be leading the teaching of RE in the school as well as fulfilling a challenging pastoral role as the head of Year 10.  She encouraged students to put all of their efforts into being successful, overcoming the hardships of the course and going on to be Outstanding teachers of RE.

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Finally students were able to explore the Every Child Matters Centre in order to gain a better understanding of the support structures which a high school can put in place to care for every child.  Through   the support and guidance of Mentors, Counsellors and SEN specialists conflicts can be resolved, relationships restored and progress made.

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These sort of visits to school based practitioners are essential in challenging the preconceptions of students and enabling them to reflect on their experiences in order to go on and be outstanding practitioners themselves.

Two Faces of Buddhism

Year 2 Undergraduates have been out to visit two different communities of Western Buddhists.  The first visit was to the Manchester Buddhist Centre where Munisha explained Buddhism from a Triratna perspective.  Formerly known as the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, the group see themselves as reinterpreting Buddhism for modern Western Buddhists

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The second visit was to the  New Kadampa Buddhists in the Manjushri Buddhist Centre in Ulverston.  This form of Buddhism, whilst still aiming to make Buddhism accessible to Westerners, still retains many of the traditional elelments of Buddhism – maroon and golden robes for shaven headed manks being an obvious example.2013-12-03 11.15.36

These visits are an essential part of the undergraduate course and allow students to prepare themselves both for the end of module assignment, but also for teaching this dharmic religion in schools.

Raga and Puja in Bradford

Our subject knowledge trip to places of worship in Bradford is now becoming an annual feature of the RE PGCE giving trainees an invaluable insight into the dharmic traditions within our communities through experiential learning. This year was no exception and we were warmly welcomed by our colleagues in the Hindu and the Sikh communities.

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Our first visit took place at the imposing and impressive Shree Laxmi Narayan Mandir, visible from Leeds road by its distinctive Om symbol. Our faith tutor Seema welcomed us with the traditional Hindu Namaste greeting. Seema talked about the Hindu beliefs by sharing with us what Hindu dharma meant to her and we were able to explore the symbolism of the murtis through discussion. There were also rich opportunities to observe puja taking place and to meet the Brahmins based at the Mandir. Seema concluded the session with the sweet offerings of prashad.

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After a visit to Bombay stores to buy artefacts and resources, lunch at the interfaith centre, we moved on to the Gurdwara Singh Sabha where we were greeted by our faith tutor, Narrinder. We explored the religious significance of the five ‘K’s through Narrinder’s exposition of what living as a Khalsa Sikh meant for him.

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We continued our enquiry into the significance of the Gurdwara by exploring the prayer hall and the central feature, the living Guru, the Guru Granth Sahib with a beautiful display of the symbolism of Sikhism, the kirpan, and the khanda. Narrinder created a beautiful meditative atmosphere and treated us to prayerful ragas, playing his electronic sitar. Trainees gained a rich ethnographic experience and came away with a deeper understanding of Sikh dharma. Hospitality was, as always perfect and we were treated to biscuits and a drink before we left for the M62 and back to Edge Hill.

As always, trainee comments speak for themselves about the impact of the experience:

Danielle said:

“I really enjoyed this trip. I thought the visit to the Hindu Mandir was excellent and the talk was fascinating. The Gurdwara was equally excellent, providing us with some rare opportunities to delve into our curiosities and queries. I thought our guide was very friendly and informative, most certainly would like to visit again. The chance to shop in Bombay stores was another highlight of the trip. We could identify various symbolic artefacts and buy them, an excellent resource to use in potential lessons. Overall, I really enjoyed it and would love to return!”

Mike said:

“The trip to Bradford was superb. We got to visit a Hindu Mandir, a Sikh Gurdwara, and Bombay stores – were we all got to buy religious artefacts to use in school! It was great to experience different religions and cultures, and visit their different places of worship.  The experience enhanced my knowledge of different religions and I have used many pictures from the day in lessons since, which the pupils have really enjoyed!”

Enjoy the video and thanks again to Rob Duffy for his excellent pictures!

http://youtu.be/cdFYellvbYQ