RE at Edge Hill

Category: Event (page 3 of 7)

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.


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.

Graduation Time Again

The sun shone brightly on our PGCE RE Class of 2014 and our final cohort of Key Stage 2/3 RE Undergraduates.

The year has been a hugely successful one for RE at Edge Hill.  All of our Undergraduates were in employment by the time of graduation (a first) and only a few PGCE students were still looking to secure a position.  Record numbers of students had completed the course with Outstanding teaching grades, and more postgraduates than ever had gained Masters Credits for the academic elements of their study.

Graduation day was a day to celebrate success with friends and family.  We are all very proud of our RE students at Edge Hill and wish them a long and happy teaching career!

One Last Trip

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.

Mayer Visits Edge Hill Again

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.


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

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