Following on from the success of our Subject Network Launch last summer, we are holding our first school based RE network meeting on Wednesday 14th November at 4.15 pm at Byrchall High School, Wigan. Many thanks to Mark Scott, Head of RE at Byrchall High, who has kindly obtained use of the school’s CPD centre for us.
The Edge Hill RE Subject Network is open to all secondary RE teachers, whether they be Mentors from the partnership, former students or local RE teachers who may want to join us. The aim is to create a friendly, informal and supportive network for professional up-dating and exchange of good practice. A schedule is attached.
We look forward to seeing you. Please let either Francis or Paul know by e-mail if you intend to join us.
It was the largest Hindu temple in the Northwest of England, and it was surprising to see what their sacred building was considering there are so many Gods that they believe in, it was also surprising to find out that the murals on the ceiling which were absolutely stunning, took only 10 weeks to make. it was a good experience, and learnt a lot from visiting also the Guide was most useful, and answered all the questions with a good answers, granted they were sometimes a bit complex, but that is better than an answer being too simple.
Hannah also wrote on her blog:
It was really interesting going on this visit. Having never been to a Mandir before I didn’t really know what to expect. When I went in it was a large room with beautiful paintings, statues and pictures everywhere. The ceiling and walls have been painted with images of the Avatars, Deities and Vedas. People in the temple use this as something to focus on when they are praying.
It was a busy weekend for over 200 RE teachers, including a number of Edge Hill mentors and former students Paul Jones, Ben Davies, Nichola Rodden and Kerril Casey. They gathered for a weekend of inspiring workshops and seminars led by some of the country’s leading figures in RE, including our own Paul Smalley, and friends of the department such as Lat Blaylock, Alan Brine, Helen Harrison and Emma McVittie. The event was the 11th RE Teacher Weekend organised by the newly merged Culham St. Gabriel’s Trust.
The Weekend focussed on five themes:
Assessment and Pupil Progress: access and respond to the latest thinking on robust, humane and authentic assessment for learning.
Classroom and Community: world class ideas for stimulating RE in, through, and beyond the four walls.
Attitudes, Values, and Impact: prepare to make the case for RE providing key evidence for the new Ofsted framework.
School Improvement: RE has the potential to be a key driver for school improvement with the focus on higher order thinking, speaking and listening, and the wider achievement indicators for learners.
Innovative Curriculum: How can we push the boundaries? What are learners saying? What can we learn from other curriculum areas? What would a first class curriculum look and feel like?
Delegates were given the opportunity to attend four of the seminars and a ‘National Updates’ session, as well as having some fine food and wine on the Saturday night. Paul’s seminars were on ‘Risky, Edgy RE’ and ‘Concept Led Lessons’ and he also presented a joint session with Emma McVittie on ‘Cross-curricular Visualisations’ which you can see below.
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!!