Year 1 Undergraduate Students spent a very worthwhile afternoon in a local school for children with Special Educational Needs. Rowan Park School is an Outstanding School, meeting the needs of up to 126 pupils aged 3 to 19 years, with severe, complex, profound and multiple learning difficulties, ASC and sensory impairments.
Students studying to be Secondary RE teachers at Edge Hill were met by the Deputy Headteacher, Cathy Harley. She gave an overview of the work of the school before leading students on a tour of the school. We started at the youngest end of the school, where the butterflies, who may be as young as 3 spend their school time. We finished up at the Oldest End – where the 6th Form students have their common room – and heard about the plans for expansion. In between we saw all manner of brilliant teaching going on, with specialist rooms for children with syndromes such as Autism, the hydrotherapy pool, and the dark and light sensory rooms.
We were struck by the patience, dedication and skill of the staff, and were challenged to think how this form of education could help us to become outstanding teachers. A number of students expressed a desire to have a placement – or some enhancement time – in a school like Rowan Park. This is something that we will endeavour to arrange; we have had RE students placed at the school for the last couple of years who have had a wonderful experience with fantastic outcomes and gone on to secure employment quickly at the end of their course.
Final Year Undergraduates completed their visits to places of worship with a trip to the Guru Sri Harkrishan Sahib Ji Gurdwara in Manchester. As always our hosts were excellent, explaining the tenets of their faith and dealing with students’ questions before offering us a generous Langar. Pictures from the day are on flickr and below.
Two former PGCE students, now serving teachers, returned to Edge Hill to talk about life as a Muslim in 21st Century England.
Sabrina Hussain completed her PGCE RE in 2008 and teaches RE at Oasis Academy in Oldham. Arsalan Aslam completed his PGCE RE in 2009 and now leads the teaching of RE at Al Jamiah Al Islamiyyah Darul Uloom in Bolton, a Muslim boys’ day and boarding school.
After a brief introduction where our two guests shared a little of their life stories, students had the opportunity to ask questions on a range of topics related to Islamic beliefs and practices in readiness both for their upcoming assignments and also for when they teach Islam in schools.
It was fascinating to have two Muslims who practise their faith in different ways and see that in Islam, as with all religions is internally contested and fuzzy edged (Jackson, 1997). Students came away from the session ready to wite their assignments and looking forward to being able to teach about Islam as a real living religion during their placements.
Once again this year we were delighted to Welcome Holocaust Survivor Mayer to speak to our Final Year Undergraduate and Postgraduate students and invited pupils from a number of Partnership schools.
Mayer’s story beginning with the outbreak of war on his 13th birthday is both harrowing and moving. Mayer seems to get more frail each year, but the strength of his conviction to tell the tale is as strong as ever. This epic story of survival against the odds, including slave labour, Auschwitz, death trains and marches had all listeners on the edge of their seats – as it has done for many years. Mayer was awarded an honourary Doctorate in 2012 by Edge Hill and received an MBE in the following New Year’s Honours list in recognition of his work.
Following a lunch break 6th Form and KS4 pupils from a number of partner schools were helped to reflect on Mayer’s story by working with Edge Hill RE and History students. Their responses and their questions were as deep and insightful as always. We all hope that Mayer will once again return to Edge Hill next year.