All posts by Francis Farrell

Judaism, a Way of Life

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On Thursday the 18th of September we had the privilege to visit the  “Great and New  Stenecourt” synagogue in Manchester, built in 1960. We were being educated on the insider’s version of what it is like to live the orthodox Jewish lifestyle by a member who regularly attends that particular synagogue.

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Upon arrival we were introduced to our faith tutor, David Arnold who kindly had kosher refreshments prepared for us. At this point we were advised that any non-kosher food was to be left outside and not taken into the Shul. After refreshments we were taken into the Shul and shown around. We were told men and women have different seating arrangements in the room and women were to be covered by partitions. Seats are bought on rent in the Shul and each person can have a designated seating spot. Further we were shown where the Torah is kept and where the service takes place. The Torah is kept in the back and protected very carefully. David also explained the all the different locations in the Shul from the Pew to the Bimah (Platform).

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David explained that Judaism is not seen as a religion but rather as a way of life. He explained the role of a man and women and how they differ in Judaism. He explained how the Jewish people are the ‘chosen people’ in a special covenant with God due to Abraham and renewed with Moses. He explained that not only do they pay a respect to God but also to the law of the land and in this case it would be the United Kingdom. This was very promising to see as it explains the way of life for a Jew especially in the light of the legacy of history.

David explained the Torah as the five books of Moses. He advised it can take years to compile. It is written by hand with a quill in Hebrew and on parchment. Further the cycle of reciting the Torah takes exactly a year and once finished the cycle starts again. To purchase a Torah would cost at an average of 20 – 30,000 pounds. The Torah is written on a scroll with wooden holders which symbolically mean ‘the tree of life.’

After visiting inside the Shul we took our seats in the meeting area where we had the opportunity to discuss the most important day in the Jewish week, Shabbat. We discussed the preparation for Shabbat and the religious meanings to why this day is known as the day of rest. David explained the importance of preparing the meals and drinking the special wine. He explained that once a week there is a special service at the Shul to commemorate the beginning of the holy day. We were told the lady of the house lights the candles to bring the light of Shabbat in to the house. We also had the opportunity to taste the special bread which is prepared for the meal. In all it was very clear that Shabbat is a family occasion and a day to thank God.

Moving on from Shabbat we discussed kosher food and the importance of it in the Jewish household. Separation of meat and dairy is very important to the extent dishes should be kept completely separate. No dairy and meat should be eaten together. David gave us examples of what is considered to be Kosher. Following on nicely from this we went for lunch at a kosher restaurant which was a great insight and first-hand experience.

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Some RE reflections

Our visit to the Shul was definitely a first-hand insight to the thinking and reasoning of a Jewish tradition. It was interesting to find that their truth claim is still very much at the heart of their lives. We all may not agree with certain aspects of what may have been discussed but it is important to take away that every person, be it secular or religious is committed to and identifies with their truth claim and as civilised fellow humans we need to learn to accept and respect differing opinions. Speaking for myself this visit truly opened my eyes to the challenging of managing conflicting truth claims and beliefs which I may face as an RE teacher. I am looking forward to this challenge and resolving the issues this brings in my classroom by developing excellent RE for community cohesion.

Aisha Butt- RE PGCE Trainee 2014

“An Enlightening Trip”, or how to live a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life

RE PGCE Trainee Marianne Howe reports back on her groups experiences at the Triratna Buddhist centre in Manchester:

On the 16th of October, the secondary RE PGCE group was given the opportunity to visit Manchester Buddhist centre. The day began at University with a Buddhist subject knowledge enhancement course led by our course leader Francis Farrell. This provided us with an in depth theoretical knowledge of Buddhist Dharma.

We started the session with a fun game entitled ‘What would make you happy?’ This engaged our curiosity and brought to the fore central themes which lie at the heart of Buddhist dharma. Questions such as would money and material wealth make you happy as opposed to the spiritual wealth of love and ‘peace of mind’ was raised. Distinctions between what exactly we mean by happiness started to form and stimulated rich philosophical debate and insight. In particular distinctions between ‘quick fix’ and fleeting feelings of happiness were discussed as opposed to more fulfilling and everlasting feelings of happiness.

 

Throughout this session, Francis provided us with an in depth knowledge and understanding of the basic teachings of Buddhism, which was explored through the lens of the original Buddha- Siddhartha Gautama. We discovered that the original Buddha primarily concerned himself with one of life’s ultimate questions- what is the meaning and purpose of life? Throughout the session it became clear that Gautama’s quest involved deep exploration and meditative insights into concepts such as happiness, virtue and what it means to lead a good, happy and fulfilling life.

Our new knowledge and wisdom gained from this session was brought alive when we visited the Manchester Buddhist Centre in the afternoon. Situated in the lively and bustling Northern quarter of Manchester, the centre itself had a calming and tranquil feel. Upon entering the building, it was hard not to notice the three jewels or refuges of Buddhism which caught your eye instantly. Consisting of the Buddha (the enlightened one), Dharma (the teachings) and Sangha (the spiritual community), it was hard not to feel the presence of these three Buddhist treasures upon entering the centre for the very first time.

Beautiful golden statues of the Buddha surrounded us (reminding us of the enlightened one and his teachings). The sense of community was also clearly felt. Before beginning our tour we had a spot of lunch in the centres earth café, situated in the basement of the building. The earth café provided a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere to refuel/recharge our minds and bodies before we began the official tour of the centre.

After lunch we made our way to the main entrance, and received a warm welcome by our tour guide, Garavachitta who is an ordained Buddhist of the Triratna order. Garavachitta informed us that the meaning behind his name refers to one whose mind has turned to reverence. Surprisingly Garavachitta was not dressed in the usual monastic orange robes you would expect a Buddhist to wear. Instead he was dressed in ordinary clothes- reflecting the centre’s modern, friendly and informal approach to Buddhist teaching. Bringing the ancient and mystical traditions of Buddhist dharma alive to the Western modern world.

After explaining to us the history of the building (the centre was once an old Victorian workhouse) and the various meditation classes/courses which are on offer at the center, we were led up a beautiful spiral wooden staircase to the second floor of the building. On this floor various meditation classes were taking place and we were told to be as quiet as possible. We were led into one of the main meditation rooms of the building and asked to take our shoes off before entering. A beautiful and awe inspiring golden statue of the Buddha awaited us.

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We were asked to take a cushion and sit on the floor facing the beautiful shrine to the enlightened one or Buddha. Here we got the chance to find out more about Buddhist dharma and to also hear Garavachitta’s story/background- learning about and from religion. We were able to explore and experience first-hand. Buddhist dharma in an open and non-dogmatic way. The session ended with a calming mediation led by Garavachitta. This was a wonderful opportunity to experience Buddhist meditative practice and fully absorb/assimilate our previous learning & knowledge. After our mediation we had the chance to do a spot of shopping and browse all things ‘Buddha’ in the centre’s shop- from books to incense sticks, and mini Buddha statues.

This informative and enlightening trip provided us with deep subject knowledge of Buddhism- it awakened our consciousness & awareness of Buddhism and provided invaluable ideas/resources to bring the RE classroom alive!  On a personal note, Buddhism for me has truths that speak to everyone irrespective of religious persuasions or not. The truths and insights offered by this religion are ones that I can not only value but also carry with me on my own journey of personal development, insight and awareness of how to live a happy, fulfilling and meaningful life.

“A truly inspiring RE department”

There is no substitute for seeing good RE practice in action so RE PGCE trainees were given a taste of what makes a really effective RE team at Cowley International College on September 5th. Trainees met senior staff and  heard an enthusiastic endorsement of RE by the Head Teacher. We were treated to presentations by Edge Hill RE PGCE graduates Rachel, Chelsea and Ashley and Edge Hill Professional Mentor, Sue. Trainee feedback speaks for itself, enjoy the comments!

Joe Murphy writes:

Our PGCE group was lucky enough to have an insight to a successful Religious Education department last week. The trip was very insightful and encouraging.

The morning started with a brief introduction from the Head of the RE department followed by a briefing from the Deputy Headmaster. The information that we were given during this time was exactly what we needed as we started in a school such as this one the following Monday. Here we received great advice how to remain professional in and out of the classroom and staffroom.  We had information previous to this in Edge Hill, however it was good to hear it from the staff at the school as they take pride in their professionalism and have had some experience with the consequences of teachers not adhering to the laws of professionalism.

After this we went to an RE classroom, here we took part in a discussion with the Head of RE and completed some tasks in pairs. This was a great exercise as it involved me working with people in my PGCE group that I have not had the chance to work with yet. During the activity we prioritised the jobs and responsibilities of a teacher. The results were very insightful as each group had a different answer, showing us that all of these attributes are equally important.

 

Next on our to-do list was to liaise with some RE students within the school. This was a major help and a great activity as it gave us hints and tips from the children themselves about what they like to do in a RE lesson, why they enjoy RE and what they have learned from RE. Speaking to the children was a great idea as it solidified my decision to become an RE teacher, it had taught these kids some very valuable lessons that they use in everyday life.

Lastly we had a chance to talk to some of the staff of the school that had graduated from the course that we are about to embark on. For me this was a very worthwhile exercise as it answered some of the questions that I had about the course from a previous student’s point of view. The girls who finished this course are now in their first teaching job and to see that was encouraging and it silenced some of the doubts that were forming in my head.

To finish what was an excellent experience, we done some meditation with another teacher who had graduated from Edge Hill two years previous. She showed us the process that she had undertaken with some of her classes after it proved to be very successful. This was a great idea and very rewarding, it had a great effect on the children that took part and it is something that I could see myself doing in the future. This idea allows the children to express themselves and it can also create a good relationship with a class, and in some cases could make a difficult class easier to teach.For me the day at Cowley high school was an extremely worthwhile experience and it made me feel a bit more confident about the PGCE.

Shabana writes: Sharing dialogue with Religious Education pupils reinforced the validity of the subject amongst today’s youth.

Nasira writes: They helped calm any nerves about the impending placement and assessments. I also found the meditation session wonderful and will definitely be using it in my lessons!

Final words go to Rosanna who sums up the experience for us all when she says:  Overall it was a fantastic experience. It was truly inspiring to see a successful RE department, and meet teachers who very clearly believe in the value of Religious Education

 

 

 

Discovering the insider point of view

 

RE PGCE Student Claire Bartlett writes:

On 25.9.14 we had the pleasure to visit two key places of worship in Bradford, the Shree Lakshmi Mandir and Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara.

See Google story of our Bradford trip here:

From this trip we hoped to improve our understanding of these two religions; from an insider point of view and appreciate the methods of worship and practice within these traditions. This was a great opportunity for everyone to deepen their subject knowledge, in preparation for our new roles in school.

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Bradford Mandir

We arrived at the temple eager to experience Hindu worship first hand, we were politely asked to partake in the cleansing rituals that everyone (even the Queen!) would complete before entering a Hindu temple. After completing the absolution process; of removing our shoes and washing our hands, we were taken into the main room of worship. The main temple really was a beautiful sight, a long row of colourful deities surround by a pristine white structure in the style of a mandir.

Our host Seema explained her work in the community, highlighting the importance of how to educate young learners about Hinduism without causing confusion. After explanations of the various beautiful deities within the temple, we had the option to ask our own questions and experience the temple further. It was the first day of the festival of Diwali during our visit. This meant we got to experience families coming to place offering to the deities to mark the beginning of the festival.

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Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara

The next stop of the day was the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara, here we were greeted by Narrinder with refreshments and enjoyed these whilst learning about the langar room and the importance of this room in a Gurdwara. This is a key Sikh practice and anyone visiting a Gurdwara would be greeted by free food or drink upon entering the temple, the refreshments offered are donated by the community. This is because of the Sikh belief in helping everyone (Sewa).

After our introductions and extra biscuits we were led upstairs to the main room of worship. Here, we sat and observed Narrinder  recite the  hymns around opening the sacred text and learnt about the process of laying the text to rest at dawn and waking the text from its bedroom, at the far corner of the room. After asking questions about how they would carry out different types of ceremonies such as weddings and funerals we moved into a separate room and talk about Sikhism away from the Gurdwara.

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Narrinder gave us a talk through the 5 K’s of Sikhism, allowing for you to experience these objects first hand whilst learning about the spiritual meaning from an insider view. At the end of our visit Narrinder was kind enough to play the sitar for us ending our Sikh experience nicely with an opportunity to appreciate the music of the Sikh faith which is so central to their worship.

After our lunch in a room of the Interfaith Centre in Bradford, we popped into Bombay Stores, UK’s largest Asian department store. Here we got to explore both ladies and gentlemen’s traditional dress, staring longingly at the large selection of jewelry and pick up some little bits and pieces that we could incorporate into our teaching. This was a great end to an enjoyable trip.

 

 

The Awesomeness of God

 

Rosanna McCurrie reports on the ‘Great Space’

Arguably the best way to learn about a religion is to experience it for yourself. The secondary PGCE group were given the opportunity to visit Liverpool Cathedral on the 11th September 2014. We were not only given a tour of the wonderful gothic style building, but we were also told about the various outreach activities which the church is involved in, or their ‘faith in action’.

It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the vastness of the building when you arrive at Liverpool Cathedral. The Cathedral sits on a hill, towering over Liverpool at an incredible 101m. It is the biggest Cathedral in the UK, the fifth largest in the World, and standing by the entrance nearest Hope Street, you really do get a sense of why for so many religious people a building like this truly gives them a sense of the awesomeness of God and the smallness of humanity.

When you walk through the entrance, you arrive into the very aptly named ‘Great Space’. The simplicity of the building adds to the vastness, and I think it’s fair to say that the whole group couldn’t help but gasp in amazement at the huge space we had entered. Here we met our guide, a lovely lady who works for and is dedicated to the mission of the Cathedral in Liverpool.

First we were given a brief introduction to the building and learnt some new facts. The Cathedral was designed by architect Giles Gilbert Scott in 1904. Until 1880, Liverpool had been under the Diocese of Cheshire, and with the creation of the Diocese of Liverpool, a new Cathedral had to be built. Upon reflection, it seems that the time and context in which the Cathedral was built has had a great impact upon its design and ethos. It was very much built by the people of Liverpool, for the people of Liverpool, and a great example of this is the fact that the Bee Gees played there in 1965!

Our guide also pointed out that Liverpool is a city of two Cathedrals. Liverpool Cathedral, which is Church of England and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, which is Roman Catholic. The two are linked by the aptly named ‘Hope Street’, highlighting the plurality and the ecumenical nature of the religious scene in Liverpool today.

After this we were shown the key features of the building. We were shown the World’s highest and widest gothic arches, the entrance to the tower, the font, the organ, the beautiful stained glass windows, the altarpiece, and the stunningly intimate Lady Chapel.

Each of these are key features of any Cathedral, and it was interesting to that in one sense the Cathedral is very typical, yet in another it is very particular to Liverpool. For example, the Great West Window at first glance is a beautiful, but no means unique, stained glass window. Pictured in the glass are important Biblical stories, representations of the apostles, and of course a representation of the Christ at the top of the window. However, upon closer inspection, at the foot of the window is an image of the Liverpool skyline. The city is encapsulated within the sacred, and you really do sense that the city is as much a part of the Cathedral as the Cathedral is a part of the city.

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Underneath the Great West Window is the thought provoking Tracey Emin sculpture. In pink neon in the artist’s handwriting it says “I felt you and I knew you loved me”. It is impossible not to notice, and stands out against the relative simplicity of the rest of the building. We were told that the piece of art is somewhat controversial; some people love it, and others think that the church is simply better off without it.

Next, we saw the font, where infants are ‘baptised’ into the church community. Our guide pointed out that the font is a very similar shape to the Cathedral tower. Whether this was purposeful or not, she did not know. Around the bottom of the font are images of the twelve Apostles complete with their traditional symbols; Peter with the keys to the kingdom, Andrew with the Fish and St. Andrews cross, and each of the Apostles respectively. Aimee noticed that the foot of one apostle was standing on a head. Our guide could not offer an explanation as to why this was, or which apostle it represented, so if anybody knows please do tell us!

We were then shown the Cathedral’s organ – the largest pipe organ in Europe. We were shown the altar piece which shows the passion of Christ and his resurrection, and were also shown the Cathedra, the Bishops seat, which every Cathedral must have to be a Cathedral. This was something I did not know before visiting the church; our PGCE days out certainly are useful in broadening our subject knowledge!

Of course I can’t speak for the rest of the PGCE group, but by far the highlight of the visit for myself was the beautiful, intimate Lady Chapel. The Lady Chapel feels like it is worlds away from Liverpool Cathedral; it is much smaller (that’s a given!) and has a very different feel to the rest of the building. It is far more intricate and intimate. All around you are the words of Jesus’ disciple John which encapsulates the heart of the Christian message in a single sentence; “For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Finally we learnt that there is more to the Liverpool Cathedral than a ‘great space’. We were given the opportunity to hear the way in which the Cathedral embodies a living faith – it is not simply a beautiful empty shell, devoid of any humanity. Those who are a members of the Cathedral have a very clear ethos of reaching out to the community, and loving as Christ loved the church. We were told about the work of the street pastors, who aim to reach out to people on nights out in the City. We were told about their interfaith work and the Cathedral’s links with Liverpool’s Jewish and Muslim community. We were also told about the ‘People’s Path’, which gives members of the community the opportunity to make their mark on the Cathedral by having their name, an important date, or message inscribed on a brick on the path which will stretch from the Cathedral’s entrance to the Lady Chapel

On the way out I was able to take some of the leaflets for events and services in the Cathedral. It is very clearly a vibrant and forward thinking place which is not as some would imagine a cathedral to be. The word ‘cathedral’ often conjures up images of dark, dreary buildings, old men in robes and solemn worshippers. The reality in Liverpool Cathedral is very different. On offer are various children’s groups, Cafe Church, an Alpha course for those wanting to explore the claims of Christ for themselves, as well as traditional worship services. There is a living dialogue, not only with other Christian traditions in Liverpool, but also with other faiths. All in all it was a second to none experience. No doubt each of us will visit the Cathedral again and make use of all it has to offer throughout the course of this year.

A deeper experiential understanding of Judaism

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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.

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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

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“The Trainee teachers were wonderful to work with”- Stretford High pupils teach the teachers

School based partnerships are at the core of what we do in the RE ITT team and we are always looking for ways to develop and enrich trainee experience. As a national priority behaviour for learning is right at the fore of the DfE’s agenda for ITT, but as everyone who has been a trainee or a new teacher knows getting those relationships right in the classroom can be a big concern. This year we were warmly welcomed not only by our outstanding Stretford High school colleagues, Layla, Faisal and Mez, but the most important people of all- the pupils!

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We visited Stretford High school on 11th November and received some characteristically effective training and development on how the school’s successful systems work.  In the first session Layla showed how restorative justice and a really coherent pastoral house system work to support everyone achieve the best outcomes.

There’s nothing like hearing what the pupils have to say about what they think makes a good teacher and that’s exactly what we got in the second session. Mez and Faisal (Head of Humanities) took us over to the Humanities are where year 9 pupils worked with RE trainees on the question, ‘What makes a good teacher?’ Trainees and pupils created some great posters and talked together about what really works. We were all unanimous that we wanted creative, fun classrooms but a disciplined and safe space to learn and teach in.

Here are a few examples of what trainees thought:

Dani said, “I think restorative justice is a great idea and I have used it in my own lessons to great effect. I find verbal praise works just as well and rewarding pupils with the chance to write on the interactive whiteboard seems to be a great incentive at getting pupils to behave within the classroom.”

Abbi said, “I enjoyed our trip to Stretford. I particularly liked the progressive C system that was in place and having it in the classroom is a great idea so that the pupils can visualise what ‘stage’ they are at and what the consequences will be.”

Jenni said, “I also enjoyed the trip to Stretford High, I thought the input from the students was very interesting and it was great to hear their opinions on what makes a good teacher!”

Jenny said, “I thought it was really interesting to see how another school tackles behaviour, and to see a system that allows restorative justice to have a huge impact on how children are managed.”

It was great to hear pupils views on the training too. They are clearly very reflective young people and it’s positive to get feedback from Junaid, an aspirational teacher,

“When we were working with the trainee teachers, I felt quite nervous at the beginning however, later on I became more confident and I was the one doing most of the talking”- Wafa

“I felt it was great experience for me, because if I decide to become a teacher, I can dwell upon this meeting with trainee teachers” – Junaid

“I enjoyed working with the trainee teachers as it has been a wonderful experience to express my ideas regarding what makes a good lesson/teacher. The trainee teachers were wonderful to work with as I have learnt a lot from this experience. I felt engaged and proud to work with them as a group and I hope them success for the future”-Kaoutar

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

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome and Intimate- PGCE trainees visit the Great Space

RE PGCE trainees were over awed by the magnificent splendour of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral during a visit on Friday 20th September. Once again we were hosted by our superb tour guide Helen, a former secondary school teacher and a fount of knowledge. Helen explored the deep symbolism and religious significance of the Cathedral and its history.

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We started our tour at the West door with its wonderful Tracey Emin art, “I felt you and I knew that you loved me”, a statement that could be interpreted as an expression of the Christian message. Helen explained the role of the Cathedral within the diocese, its outreach work into the community and the vision of Giles Gilbert Scott who designed the Great Space. The beauty of the nave and the main well contrasted with the intimacy of the quiet spiritual spaces of the Holy Spirit Chapel and the Lady Chapel.
We concluded our tour at the High Altar and the East Window, a fitting place to end our exploration with the empty cross and the symbolising the resurrection as testament to the Christian message.

I have little doubt that everyone was impressed and that there will be repeat bookings as a result. Within the RE team we aim to give our trainees a network of contacts within the faith communities so they can use these experiences to deepen their learners understanding of the real presence of people of faith within our communities.

Thanks to Rob Duffy for his excellent pictures!

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Inspirational Induction at Stretford High School

Starting PGCE is always going to be a challenge so positive messages and an inspirational induction in a successful secondary school set the right tone for the rest of the training year. This is the third year running in which PGCE trainees have had the professional boost of an induction day at Stretford High school, one of our most successful and dynamic partnership schools. The day was led by outstanding Stretford colleagues who made a real impact through their key messages about professionalism, the rewards of teaching and the commitment required to make a difference to young peoples’ lives.

Professional mentor Linda Smith started the day with a review of the DFE standards and some valuable reminders about the boundaries between the professional and the personal. Trainees enjoyed a characteristically charismatic presentation by Head Teacher, James Haseldine who shared his career journey and his powerful and motivational vision for inclusive, challenging education for all. Trainees got a real insight into the impact of effective management and leadership underpinned by commitment to ensuring the best opportunities are made available to learners- Mr Haseldine’s presentation will be a powerful motivator for trainees throughout this year.

Mez Munshi, RE PGCE alumni, and outstanding PGCE graduate shared her perspective on the challenges of the PGCE, leaving trainees reassured and confident that they can do it! Lastly we had a tour of the school by a group of wonderful year 11 pupils. We were suitably charmed and impressed by their friendliness and their obvious love of their school. We can’t wait to come back for more training from Stretford colleagues, welcoming Stretford KS4 pupils to our Holocaust study event- all examples of best partnership practice!

Special thanks go to Mr Faisal Ahmed, Director of Humanities, for organising this inspirational event for us.
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