Around 20 Secondary RE teachers were able to attend the recent RE Subject Network Meeting at Edge Hill. We are fortunate to welcome Alan Brine, HMI for RE, who talked us through the findings of the latest Ofsted Report into RE RE: Realising The Potential. This is a key report for RE and comes at a very important time for the subject.
Part Time primary trainees from Edge Hill recently explored creative learning in the gallery, using the cultures gallery in the World Museum Liverpool. They took part in a Hindu and Buddhist story telling workshop and used the artefacts as a stimulus to create their own interpretations. In groups they re-enacted and the devices that support oral tradition to ‘perform’ their stories on the gallery floor.
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!
The RE Team welcomed Stephen Pett and Fiona Moss from NATRE to Edge HIll for the Annual RE Network Conference. This year the Conference was generously supported by the Jerusalem Trust and drew together Undergraduate and Postgraduate students from Edge Hill as well as guests from Liverpool Hope’s RE PGCE. Around a dozen of our Mentors were able to be released from school for the day to take part in this worthwhile CPD.
Stephen shared some work on advertising and happiness (‘Why live a good life when the good life is on offer?”) as well as some innovative approaches to planning an enquiry based RE scheme of work. Fiona explored some of the issues surrounding teaching controversial issues in RE. All of this was delivered in a very hands on, practical, interactive way.
One of the mentors, Hannah, commented:
“This has been a really valuable day. It is always great to go on some CPD where you actually leave with things that you can use straight away in class. I’m going to go home and start planning next week’s lessons using some of the ideas from today!”
We hope to be able to welcome NATRE back again next year and will talk to Mentors about what they would like the Network to do next year.
Schoolchildren helped Edge Hill University recreate the Holi Festival of Colour to highlight why it’s important to keep Religious Education on the national curriculum.
For the first time in the north-west, replicating India’s popular springtime religious celebration, students, staff and pupils from Nutgrove Methodist Primary in St Helens took part in throwing bright, vibrant powders at friends and strangers alike as they celebrate the arrival of spring.
The idea behind the event on 10th May was to show how taking risks with learning makes it more meaningful and that RE can generate a more creative environment in the classroom.
It was also used to reiterate why RE should be included in the ever-changing curriculum.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has said RE would remain a statutory requirement at all ages for local authority and direct grant maintained schools, but no programme of study would be prescribed. Parents can also choose to stop their children from attending RE classes.
Maggie Webster, Edge Hill University’s Primary RE Subject Leader organised the Festival of Colour and a lecture about creativity and the Holi in conjunction with student Chris Kirk.
The author of Creative Approaches to Teaching Primary Education explained: “We wanted to recreate our own Festival of Colour as a celebration and to raise the profile of the Foundation subjects, in particular RE as a result of the new national curriculum. In a way, the subject is being side-lined so we are showing that RE fits into all areas of knowledge and creativity. It links into music, dance, culture and life and is a good way to show teachers that risks can be taken in the classroom to make learning more fun.”
On the day, there was a discussion around creative education, the value of RE and the cross-curricular nature of the subject.
“By letting people take part in paint throwing it will give our teachers of the future ideas to demonstrate how pedagogy and theory can be applied in practice within a school setting,” explained Maggie. “Hopefully it will encourage them to develop creative approaches in all curriculum areas.”
The event was also used to raise money for children’s charity NCB.
Inspiration and professional messages from Stretford High
You don’t need me to tell you that training as a secondary teacher is a daunting process, so it makes it all the more important that our trainees hear from recently qualified successful practitioners who are making an impact. We’ve enjoyed a strong partnership with Stretford High school since Nick Theodosiou, former RE trainee, completed his placement at the school in 2010. Nick has gone on to become one of our lead CMs and Deputy Head of Humanities.
In September Nick led a training session focussing on all the key professional messages that beginner teachers need to hear. Nick outlined to trainees what they can do through their professional conduct to ensure a successful professional placement.
We were joined by the Head Teacher Mr Haseldine and Professional Mentor, Linda Smith who shared their positive, forward thinking vision for education with us. Mr Haseldine generously shared his professional journey into leadership, exploring the challenges and the joys of teaching. Mr Haseldine underlined why he thinks RE is such an important subject in his school- morale boosting messages to hear at the start of a challenging journey!
Inclusion and nurture at Accrington Academy
The period after first placement is always a good time to take stock of some of the more complex and challenging aspects of teaching. PGCE RE trainees received a programme of outstanding training from our colleagues at Accrington Academy, led by Professional Mentor and RE Curriculum Mentor, Rebecca Conn- yes, another excellent Edge Hill alumni and an outstanding mentor!
Rebecca was joined by Sue Coates, who graduated from the RE PGCE course in 2009 and specialises in SEN. Sue analysed best practice in SEN using a video of one of her nurture group lessons. We enjoyed a session in the nurture classroom with Michelle Hargreaves who explained the principles of attachment theory and strategies she uses to support nurture pupils both pastorally and academically.
We were up-dated on how to incorporate best literacy and phonics practice into RE through a Sounds Write session led by Jenny Jones and after lunch (always a treat!), Nick Hughes gave us a truly dynamic demonstration of differentiation for the most able through challenging questioning. Rebecca led on reflections, questions and discussion in the plenary. Trainees and tutor left inspired!
EAL and Inclusion at Manchester Communications Academy
Many thanks to (yes, more Edge Hill Alumni) Nichola Rodden and Alex Reed for their high quality EAL training offered to our RE trainees on 18th March. PGCE training should be an opportunity for trainees to see and experience a wide range of school settings, so we were all highly impressed by the innovative environment and the progressive teaching and learning practice we observed at Manchester Communications Academy.
The highlight of the day was the opportunity to work with some exceptional year seven pupils who had agreed to let us assess them as a part of an EAL assessment exercise. We learnt a lot from them and Alex- needless to say these talented year seven pupils demonstrated brilliant skills!
‘People should take illegal drugs if they want to’
‘Reformation is the most important aim of punishment’
Controversial and contentious statements, not the easiest assertions to evaluate and guaranteed to provoke argument and debate! In fact, debate, discussion and heated argument was our aim, as twenty year 10 GCSE high flyers and their teacher, CM, Bridget Mashiter from Ribblesdale High school came to spend the day with RE trainees on March 1st at Edge Hill University. Year 10 are exploring religious attitudes to crime and punishment as part of their GCSE studies, so RE trainees created a thought provoking programme of activities to help pupils really explore the issues in depth and to sharpen their evaluation and analysis skills.
The best aspect of a day like this is the opportunity to do something pedagogically risky and challenging, which is what trainees did with their ‘Island’ activity (thanks also to Sue Phillips for inspiration!).
Pupils worked in their thinking groups to use the principles of Islam and Christianity to design a set of laws and ethical guidelines on an imaginary island they had been ship wrecked upon. They then went on to defend and justify their decisions. After lunch, RE trainees went into role for the plenary session, which took the form of ‘Question Time’ debate. Trainees represented various religions and ethical stances defending their views on crime and punishment in the face of some fierce and perceptive questions from our Ribblesdale audience.
Pupils seemed to enjoy the day as this feedback shows:
“The entire experience was fantastic and I really enjoyed it”
“At the beginning of the day you asked us all to write down what we would like to improve on- I wrote religious quotes. At the end of the day I knew many more quotes than I’d learnt in previous lessons”
“I particularly enjoyed the island activity”
“I easily reached my aim for the day by learning arguments from more than one side and the religious views…I have gained vital knowledge on how to answer GCSE questions”
Last and by no means least, it’s gratifying to know the pupils enjoyed what the campus has to offer,
“I am thankful for the dinner because it was so nice and good!”
We like to think we can offer a good experience for body and mind.
Dr Mayer Hersch MBE paid his annual visit to Edge Hill University to tell gathered RE and History ITE students together with pupils from a number of parternship schools the story of his survival during the darkest days of the Nazi regime.
Mayer was only 13 when the Nazis invaded his homeland Poland and his 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 and honourary Doctorate last year by Edge Hill and received an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list in recognition of his work.
Following a lunch break pupils from a number of partner schools were helped to reflect on Mayer’s story by working with Edge Hill PGCE students. There responses and their questions were deep and insightful. We all hope that Mayer will once again return to Edge Hill next year.
Final Year Undergradaute students were delighted to spend the day in one of our Partnership Schools, Our Lady’s RC High School in Blackley, Manchester, where they were able to draw upon the expertise of the Professional and Curriculum Mentors in the areas of Assessment for Learning and Co-operative groupwork. The school is situated in a challenging area and the RE department has been judged to have Outstanding teaching and learning with lively exciting RE lessons.
The first session of the day was led by Nuala Buckley, The Head of RE at the School who outlined in a very practical way some of the Assessment for Learning techniques that the department uses – including Meta-courses, the Stuck-O-Meter and the lightbulb moment!
Following this students were able to watch Nuala and two former Edge Hill students (Terry Hart and Loretta Robson) who are now working in the RE department at Our Lady’s putting the AfL techniques into practice. Students commented that pupils and staff were at ease with the techniques because they were embedded into the regular practice of the department.
After lunch, RE students were joined by Edge Hill colleagues from English and MFL courses to draw on the expertise of Michelle Rathor the school’s Professional Mentor. She delivered a very engaging and interactive session showing how carefully planned interactive group work could enable pupils to make good progress both socially and academically through co-operative learning.
The feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive and there was a real determination from the students that they would embed the practices they had seen in their final secondary placements. They said that the day was full of fun and had made a real impact on them.
The New RE syllabus for Catholic Primary Schools ‘Come and See’ requires that pupils gain an insight into the major world religions. For the mutual benefit of the school and our undergraduate Trainees we were invited in to Blackbrook St Mary’s Primary School to deliver an assembly on the Story of Rama and Sita to years 5 and 6 and then to deliver 4 lessons on Hinduism across the two year groups.
Matthew H said:
The Year 1 Undergraduate class paid a visit to Blackbrook Primary School, under request from the Head Teacher, Mrs Ashton. It was there that we had a go at teaching the primary school children about Hinduism. We had been divided into a groups, I had been paired up with Emma, Matthew, and Lauren. We had been tasked with creating an assembly that would introduce to the children about Hinduism. We chose to create a fun / daft play which told the story of Rama and Sita. I played Sita ( Rama’s Wife), Lauren played the part of Rama, and Matt played (Hannuma and The Golden Deer that appears, and Ravana the ten headed demon) Emma narrated the play.
On the last day of November, (Friday 30th) our RE class were given the opportunity to perform and teach to year 5 and 6 pupils about Hinduism. This was an exciting day for us because what we had been learning in lessons, we were now passing on that knowledge to a classroom of students. There was some preparation to organise because a small proportion of our class decided to reinact the story of Rama and Sita in an assembly to the majority of the primary school. I thought this to be a very effective method of teaching because it was very entertaining. After the assembly we were divided into groups and sent to individual classrooms and during that time we were teaching Hinduism again. As a group we organised bingo and a quiz activity were the winner(s) won sweets. I think that’s why the pupils liked us the most.
Today I taught a primary school class for an hour about the Hindu Gods. We had to produce a starter, main and plenary for the class to complete thinking about the time we had and what activities we were going to be doing.
Hayley and I worked together to deliver the lesson. Our starter activity was used to find out what the children already knew about Hinduism, we gave them a sheet with the Hindu Om symbol on it; they then had to mind map any knowledge they already had on Hinduism. This knowledge was then fed back to the whole class so we could see what they had been learning about already. Once we had begun the main part of the lesson we asked the children to use the small bit of play dough they had been given and create their own version of a Hindu God, we told them to think about the assembly they had just seen and we put some images on the board as a visual aid for them. We then asked them to leave the play dough and we went onto the main part of the lesson where we showed a Power Point on the Trimurti and the Gods included in that. We then asked them had they seen the film ‘Avatar’ and asked what they though an Avatar, most of the class had seen it and were able to explain very well what they though one was, this led onto how we had created our own Avatar with the play dough and how we were about to paint Hindu masks of the Gods. Whilst the children were painting the masks we supervised them whilst asking and answering questions about the Gods. At first I was really nervous about teaching a primary class because I didn’t know how they would respond to the different activities and if they would get bored easily. However everything seemed to work out OK and the children seemed to enjoy what they were learning.
Friday 30th November my RE group went to St. Mary’s School, and led a lesson for an hour, I was partnered with Andrew and the lesson was about the Hindu God’s, but before this 4 other people in my group did a 10 minute assembly enactment of the story of Rama and Sita which the kids loved, then the children went to their rooms where we taught the lesson, Andrew and my lesson started with the children writing everything they know about Hinduism, and then a power point on the Gods with comparison to some things in Christianity so that it would seem less alien to them.
The visit concluded with a a tour around the school, which was very good. Blackbrook Primary School is a brilliant school to develop any ones intellectual needs.
All in all a brilliant experience of teaching and learning for all involved.