RE at Edge Hill

Month: March 2014

Post 16 Preparation

Final Year Undergraduates spent a morning at Deanery Church of England High School Sixth Form College to learn about the teaching of RE Post 16, and specifically A level RE.


Sarah Daley, Assistant Head of RE at the school told us about the Art of teaching A Level, using some recent examples from her teaching, such as a lesson comparing the Judeo-Christian Creation stories at AS level and the Augustinian Theodicy at A2.  we were reminded that at A-level, teaching does not radically change and that structuring a lesson is still important to encourage student engagement.


Sarah spoke to us about the procedures at Deanery for assessment of student work and the tracking of progress which goes on, before finishing with some thoughts about the upcoming changes to the way A Levels will be assessed in the near future.


After a brief chat with the Head Boy, about the challenges of A level from a student point of view we were able to go and observe former Edge Hill student Taco Michiels teaching a very small Upper VI RE lesson on business ethics.  We were able to recognise the influence of Edge Hill as Taco started the lesson by outlining the Key Question behind the enquiry, “what if all businesses behaved ethically?”.  He went on to use some active learning techniques with the class – a silent discussion and some creative Diamond 9 sorting.


A brew in the staffroom at breaktime was followed by a chance to observe Sarah teaching her Lower VI class on the problem of evil, and again we could see that good teaching at A level looks very similar to good teaching at all ages: an odd-one-out activity, images as thought-provoking stimuli, picture sorting, a market place activity and high-quality teacher input were all squeezed into the hour long lesson, which had pace and challenge without ever seeming rushed.

“Thanks to Taco and Sarah for today – I now feel much better prepared (and less scared!) to teach A level RE in my next placement” – Katie



Christianity in Leyland 2014 Visit

Taking the pulse of Christianity in the Lancashire Town of Leyland has become an annual Pilgrimage for our Year One Undergraduate Trainee RE Teachers.  As part of the Module on the History of Christian thought and culture we visited four Christian Churches beginning with St Mary’s a Roman Catholic Church were we joined the community for the week day celebration of Mass and then for breakfast.  Fr Jonathan Cotton then gave us a tour of the Church and answered questions. The Church has recently won an award as one of the best modern church buildings in Britain. Christie commented that how the altar was positioned in the centre of the building gave it a really different feel to more traditional churches.



The second Church we visited was the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Apostles. We were welcomed warmly by Fr Dionysius who gave us a very entertaining overview of the Greek Orthodox Church.


After lunch we moved onto Leyland Baptist Church were we met Pastor Tony. Pastor Tony shared his beliefs and described the ministry of the Church in detail. Becky commented that she hadn’t realised that the Baptist Church did not have a hierarchical system and thought that this was a real positive !

Finally we were welcomed at  St James Church Of England by Fr Mark


An Islamic Day in Preston

Year 1 and Year 3 undergraduates enjoyed spending a day in the Islamic community in Preston as part of their Module on Islam.

We were able to once again benefit from the hospitality and wisdom of Waqaus Ali ot ThinkBrite.  The day began with an introduction and then a brief visit to see some of the youngest members of the Islamic community in the Pre-school at Little Sparkles Nursery.

Waqaus then spoke about Islam as a Way of Life – a deen – and was joined by Abdul Hafeez Darr, who is a partner in a legal firm and was able to include some practical examples of living life as  a Muslim.


After some refreshments at lunchtime, the first highlight of the afternoon session was a visit to Abrar Academy, an Outstanding Independent Islamic boys’ school.  There we were treated to a very rare spectacle: being able to watch the Friday Jummah prayers being led by a student at the school.  afterwards we were able to talk to the headteacher, Mr Anayath Chowdhury who spoke about the school’s ethos, curriculum and plans for the future.  all were struck by how amazingly calm the school was.

The day ended at the Madina Masjid, where we were able to see all of the facilities in this purpose built mosque.


A deeper experiential understanding of Judaism


PGCE trainees enjoy the experience of  a kosher meal as part of their subject knowledge field trip to Stenecourt schule. 

Mike Evans, RE PGCE trainee shares his reflections on the day we spent with our colleague , David Arnold, in the north Manchester Jewish orthodox community:

The subject knowledge field trip to Prestwich gave me a deeper, experiential understanding of Judaism within the community. The tour of the Schule and a talk by David Arnold gave me valuable insights into the function of the Schule as a community centre as well as a place of worship. David Arnold delivered an excellent presentation on the Jewish way of life. David developed my knowledge and understanding of Judaism as a way of life, not a religion, which has been pivotal in developing my understanding of other aspects of the tradition.


We explored the religious symbolism and the special status of the  Torah, Tallit, Tefillin and Mezuzah, the importance of prayer in Jewish life and the  centrality of Shabbat and other Jewish festivals. We explored the kosher food laws and visited a kosher restaurant at the heart of the Prestwich Jewish community. David also discussed Jewish communities in the U.K and the state of Israel at the heart of Judaism. David has been a pioneer in interfaith relations between Judaism and other religions and a key member of the Manchester Council of Christians and Jews. David has helped establish various interfaith forums across the Northwest region and has held discussions about Israel and Palestine. 

Reflection by Mike Evans


FA Primary PE Teachers’ Award

We are proud that the KS2/3 Course was able to pilot this brand new Award for PE teachers from the FA.  Over 40 trainees from a variety of subject specialisms were able to become the first Primary teachers in the North-West to complete this award.  The aim of the course is to enable all primary school teachers to be able to successfully deliver the new PE National Curriculum in Primary Schools.  Most of the students had no prior football or coaching experience, outside of the degree programme and school placements.

 “I had the best time! It was brill and learnt lots at the same time! I feel a lot more confident about teaching Primary PE now, especially with differentiating each activity” – Jenny

The course was delivered  by Chris Brammall, FA Regional PE & Coaching in Education Coordinator (North West) and Chris Welburn, FA Regional PE & Coaching in Education Coordinator (North East) and facilitated by Paul Smalley, Senior Lecturer and FA Coach Mentor.

“It was best teaching day for a foundation subject we have had! To be honest I have always felt confident teaching PE, but I learnt so much today and feel even better.” -Jake

We began with an introduction and theoretical background a classroom, where we thought about the various challenges of Primary PE and started to define physical literacy.  We then moved out onto the 4G Astroturf for practical work in two groups.  We were shown a number of warm-up activities, multi-directional and directional games, some of which were specific to football skill deelopment, but many which developed fundamental movement skills and objectives linking to the Natioanl Curriculum’s invasions games.  We could not have wished for a better day and stayed on the astroturf all afternoon until around 4-ish.

“Absolutely loved today so engaging and very tiring, early night for me! Thanks Paul and the 2 Chris’ s very fab I have some great ideas and it definitely made me want to get back into my sports.” – Lauren



Hello from Helen

The new National Curriculum is to be implemented in Local Authority schools from September 2014.  In order to prepare our students for this, Edge Hill recently held a Curriculum 2014 day conference.  Of course RE is not part of the new (or old) National Curriculum, but it locally determined.  However the RE Council has produced an RE Review which includes a Non-statutory National Curriculum Framework for RE, to mirror the developments.  Edge Hill welcomed Helen Harrison, Vice Chair of the RE Council to update PGCE and final year Undergraduate students  on the Review and the implications for schools – and more importantly for SACREs.2014-03-03 14.01.17

Sufism: more than shariat

As part of their Islam module, Year 1 and Year 3 undergraduates were visited by former student Kulsum Issa and Yunus Chasma in order to educate us about the spiritual movement of Sufism.

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Yunus explained the beliefs that Sufis have and the origins of the movement.  In many ways Sufism is like Islam taken to another spiritual level, where loving the beloved (God) is all important.  Different levels of devotion were made clear – Shariat (the law),   Tariqat (the path), Haqiqat (the journey) and Marifat (the destination).

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This 30 second video gives you a flavour of what the 3 year Secondary Religious Education with QTS degree is like.


Primary students on The Farm

Part time primary trainees have recently been thinking about what education is for.  They made this video as part of their work.  Maggie said,

“I love it and made me realise that they will never be sheep”

Two days on ‘The Island’

Sue Phillips once again visited Edge Hill to show us how to teach RE using the ‘Theatre of Learning’ pedagogy which she has developed.  This year Sue was able to send two days with us, spending a day with PGCE students and a day with final year Undergraduates.

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Both days followed a similar format, beginning with students spending time being introduced to ‘The Island’ the groundbreaking introduction to religious education invented by Sue and used by many schools throughout the country.  This was followed by an investigation of how religion-neutral exercised can provide a meaningful way into deep religious understanding for many students.

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Sue was able to show how each of the major world faiths can be taught using this methodology, ensuring concepts are understood by pupils. The students were hugely impressed with all they saw and experienced:

“It was one of the best sessions we have had at Edge Hill” – Matt

“A fantastic Experience” – Rachel


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