On Friday 28th September, PGCE trainees braved the long hike up the M62 and over the Pennines to enjoy a memorable day meeting faith representatives of the dharmic traditions in Bradford. Our first visit was to the highly impressive Shree Laxmi Narayan Mandir on Leeds road where our faith tutor, Seema, provided us with a brilliant, lucid overview of what she considered the five main principles of Hindu dharma. Seema has a real gift in making very complex ideas down to earth and accessible. We all felt this was the perfect refresher of our subject knowledge. We were also able to enjoy prashad and to participate in the morning service led by the priest. Hearing the hymns and witnessing the fire blessing made this a very special experience for all of us.
Next stop was Bombay stores shopping for artefacts and then on to the Gurdwara Singh Sabha. We were greeted enthusiastically by our Sikh faith tutors,a husband and wife team, who led us through to the prayer hall. We enjoyed a peaceful moment of quiet meditation before our tutors explained the significance of the Guru Granth Sahib to us and the meaning of Sikh Dharma in their lives. I was particularly impressed by the teaching of Guru Nanak to always ‘retain your humanity’, a beautiful teaching explained by our faith tutor. Seeing the kirpan and ther khanda and hearing the readings of the Granth Sahib and the kirtan were real high points of the visit. Trainees were also treated to some authentic Sikh musicianship and we learnt about the role of music in the tradition.
RE Postgraduates are now equipped with stories to tell and some excellent photographs to use in their RE teaching.
First Year undergraduates have successfully enrolled on our newest teaching route – the BA (Hons) Secondary Religious Education with QTS – a unique 3 year undergraduate route to becoming a secondary RE teacher.
A dozen eager RE students together with around 150 from other subjects successfully enrolled over the weekend and were given a warm welcome from the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, Secondary Undergraduate Programme Leader Gordon Laing and Year 1 Leader Shirley Hindley. The Freshers’ Week activities include a mix of academic and social activities before work on the modules begin.
The course includes modules on Teaching Skills, Professional Conduct and Research as well as 10 Religious Studies Modules and Teaching Practices in Each Year. Click on the Outline above to see how it fits together. It is hoped that all of the team will contribute to the delivery of the subject knowledge modules and Paul Smalley will lead the Course.
The RE PGCE group enjoyed a fantastic tour of Liverpool’s impressive Anglican Cathedral, courtesy of the Cathedral’s specialist education team. The tour was led by Helen Roberts, a former Head of Music, so the ideal tour guide with a great understanding of the needs of new teachers. As in previous visits Helen provided a very detailed and interesting overview of the Cathedral’s fascinating history and its special role in the local community.
We explored the religious symbolism of the Cathedral, but most importantly the outreach work in the local community, ecumenical links with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian communities of Merseyside. We also learnt about the work of the Archbishop and his commitment to social justice in the recent Hillsborough enquiry. Trainees went away better equipped to teach Christianity with that all important understanding of its role in the lives of the local community.
Our 17 PGCE RE students have concluded their Subject Knowledge Booster Course with a visit to three places of worship in Preston.
First stop was at the Gujarat Hindu Centre, where Biku Patel spoke about the history of the Gujarati Hindu community in Preston and told students about some of the practices that take place at the centre. There was plenty of opportunities to take pictures of the beautiful, ornate Mandir.
Only a short walk away was the Vajravarahi Kadampa Buddhist Centrewhere Kelsang Pagpa reminded students of some of the fundamentals of Buddhism and the distinctive nature of the New Kadampa tradition of Buddhism. The questioning and discussion was deep and well informed.
Finally a quick drive across the city to the Madina Mosque in the Fishwick area for a quick sandwich before Zuhr prayers. Waqaus Ali then explained to the trainees the concept of Islam as a Deen – a way of life.
The trainees found the whole day, and in fact the whole fortnight, illuminating, and an outstanding preparation for their PGCE RE course.
The PGCE RE cohort have all started two weeks early so that they can benefit from the Subject Knowledge Enhancement Course which Edge Hill offers, free of charge, to all of its PGCE RE students. The course which is an intensive introduction to the six major world faiths was originally intended for those who did not have a specialist Religious Studies or Theology and was funded by the TDA. Because of the benefits to those from every degree background we now offer the course to all PGCE students, and this year everyone has been able to attend.
The course lasts for two weeks and includes an introductory day on religion and spirituality, a day on each of the six major world faiths, with guest lecturers from both academic and faith backgrounds, an experiential visit to Preston and a final day of student-led presentations.
The sun shone brightly on the stars of the BA(Hons) Key Stage 2/3 Religious Education degree course as they were awarded their degrees and celebrated their achievements. As the self proclaimed ‘Best RE class ever!’ the 14 graduands were awarded their degree by the Chancellor, Professor Tanya Byrom, describing Edge Hill graduates as “not only ‘Outstanding’, but ‘Exceptional’!”
This indeed was our best year yet for Undergraduate RE students, with a third of graduates achieving a First class degree – and another half getting a II:i classification. One student, Chris Lawson, received a special award for the highest mark in the Faculty for a dissertation. His study of primary to secondary transition in Catholic RE departments is likely to be published soon. Almost two-thirds of the group were judged to be ‘Outstanding’ in their final teaching practice and most have already secured employment for the next academic term – in primary and secondary settings.
PGCE students from Edge Hill Celebrated their achievements with their Graduation Ceremony. This year’s PGCE results were fantastic with everyone being rated at least ‘Good’ on their teaching practice and 94% ‘Outstanding’ Around three-quarters of the group already have Masters-level credits which they can take forward to their MA or MEd studies.
It was made an even more special occasion by two doctoral appearances – Mayer, a holocaust survivor who has been speaking to Edge Hill RE trainees since the first years of the course was awarded an honorary Doctorate. It was also the first outing for Dr. Farrell’s Tudor Bonnet!!
Members of the RE team at Edge Hill have been busy presenting the findings of their research at conferences up and down the country. Paul has presented his work on Using Twitter with undergraduates at the SOLSTICE conference at Edge Hill. At the CLIS Conference at Edge Hill Francis presented some of the early findings of his investigation into the attitudes and perceptions of boys in Skelmersdale and Maggie shared a paper on Learning through the socail media site Second Life. Paul has also presented some collaborative work with Emma McVittie, on Using Guided Imagery to develop Spirituality at the International Childrens’ Spirituality Conference at UEA and the AULRE conference at St. Mary’s Twickenham.
Phil completed his PGCE in RE at Edge Hill in 2009. He is now a Deputy House Leader at Our Lady’s RE Sports College. He is a Curriculum Mentor and has worked with Postgraduate and Undergraduate students.