Today trainees got the chance to visit one of our outstanding partnership schools, Cowley International College in St Helens. Led by the experienced RE team, trainees were able to reflect on the notion and importance of professionalism, benefit from the experiences of ex-Alumni and get some top tips for being professional from Principal Cameron Sheeran. They also got the chance to chat to some fabulous students who shared their experiences of RE and their thoughts on what makes a good RE lesson. A fantastic afternoon that got everyone looking forward to starting their first placement next week. Thanks Cowley!
Giving us a flavour of experiential RE, Sue Philips delivered her usual creative and engaging approach to RE to some Yr2 UG and PG trainees this week. Trainees were able to experience her work on experiential pedagogy, religion-neutral exercises, life as a homeless person and of course, her work on ‘The Island’ as a way to engage and connect young people to their RE learning. Thanks Sue!
ICT Guru Paul Hopkins paid a visit to the RE PGCE trainees in the final week of their course, to talk through some of the gadgets they can use in their classrooms. We forget to take photos of the session but as it was our last day together before some trainees began their new posts – we did pose for a final group shot! Best of luck to those of you starting your new posts this week!
Just before Christmas, Editor of RE Today magazine and NATRE Adviser, Lat Blaylock delivered an outstanding and engaging conference for UG and PG ITT trainees entitled ‘RE for All: Entitlement and Opportunity’. As current PGCE students, we found the day to be extremely informative and enjoyable. Lat discussed and demonstrated activities which we could use in the classroom to help engage pupils which we found particularly useful and which encouraged use to think about what ‘good’ RE looks like. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and we thank Lat for making it possible 🙂 – Catherine Agnew & Rebecca Eiffe-Harvey (EHU PGCE trainees)
As summer shone its brightest in the weeks before term started, RE staff from Edge Hill were busy sharing the findings of their research.
Prof. Vini Lander along with Dr Francis Farrell organised a Day conference for Edge Hill staff on Fundamental British Values – a key part of the government’s education agenda. The day, which took a critical look at the topic included contributions from our friends Lynn Revell, David Aldridge and Waqaus Ali as well as Francis’ own research with teenagers about their perceptions of British Values.
Meanwhile Maggie Webster led a workshop at the European Educational Research Conference 2015 which was held at Corvinus University of Budapest in Hungary. The workshop explored the benefits and challenges of utilising digital technologies to gather data using, for example, email interviewing, synchronous and asynchronous focus groups on closed social networking sites and participant observation in second life communities. Francis Farrell’s paper on Practitioner Subjectivity Within Urban Free Schools was also presented at the same conference.
The following week saw the British Educational Research Association conference in Belfast. Here Maggie presented on her research into A Transitional Integrated Approach to Teacher
Career Paths. Paul Smalley was also at the BERA conference and presented papers on his research into Lesson Study in England.
These contributions along with recent publications by Francis in Gender and Education and Journal of Education & Training and Paul in the International Journal of Children’s Spirituality demonstrate the growing research reputation of the RE team at Edge Hill.
Paul Smalley and a small number of Year 1 Undergraduate RE students were recently invited to take part in the Cheshire West & Chester SACRE Primary Pupil conference. This two-day event, funded by a generous grant from NASACRE and organised by Naomi Anstice, was held at the Forest Hills Hotel in Frodsham and brought together over 100 primary school children from a range of primary schools
The session we had been invited to deliver was an experiential Hajj. Pupils from Years 5 and 6 began by hearing about how Muslim pilgrims enter a state of Ihram before the begin their pilgrimage. Pupils then washed their hands, promised to themselves that they would enter into the activities as much as possible and try to do their best, before donning a sheet of white flipchart paper. This made us realise how pilgrims get a real sense of unity when all are dressed the same.
The children circled the Ka’ba, before hearing a story and replicating Hajar’s desperate seach for water as they looked for a hidden bottle of ‘Special Zam-Zam Water’. Before bedding down for the first (rather noisy!) night, pupils used iPads to record the first of their video diaries.
I enjoyed the Hajj acting and learnt that Muslims get to go to sleep on pilgrimage
The video diaries helped me to remember what we had already done
The pupils held their hands up on the Mount of mercy whilst thinking about what problem they would want solving in the world, or what they had done wrong and might need to put right. They listened to the story of Ibrahim’s sacrifice and then, before the second night’s video diary and ‘sleep’, they each collected seven post it notes from around the room.
I liked learning about the story of Ibraham and how he sacrificed a sheep instead of his son
Today I learned about the pilgrims going on Hajj and I enjoyed acting the different parts and using the ipads to record our family diary
The next morning the pupils thought deeply and wrote on their post it notes seven things that they might be tempted to do, even though they know they are bad, before scrunching them up and throwing them at a jamarah, like the pillars representing Shaytan in Makkah.
I really enjoyed the pilgrimage today
Then to celebrate Eid-ul-adha, a sheep (cake) was sacrificed and shared out by each family, before compleing Hajj with a final Tawaf and a last video diary.
I loved sacrificing the sheep cake
I loved making a film and sacrificing a sheep
We liked the practical way to introduce Hajj to children
Good ideas for teachers to take back to schools. Our children partically enjoyed the experiential Hajj and it was good to hear then reflect about our RE lessons back in school.
We were delighted to recently welcome Charlotte and Peter Vardy to Edge Hill to spend a day with a postgraduate and third year undergraduate RE students and a small number of school based patrners, helping them think about how to teach RS to pupils in the sixth form.
The day began with a discussion of the proposed changes to the GCSE and A-level content which have been proposed, followed by an introductory session considering what is truth and what this means in a post-modern age. After a break came two weighty sessions led by Charlotte Vardy explaining some tried and tested approaches to teaching the Design Argument and the Cosmological Argument. Students and teachers were able to improve their knowledge and understanding of the arguments, becoming more confident in their teaching.
After lunch Dr Peter Vardy considered how to teach the problems of Evil and Suffering, considering the fundamental philosophical issues it raises about truth, human freedom and responsibility, before Charlotte Vardy explored Utilitarianism, considering what differentiates between mediocre teaching from excellent teaching in relation to this topic.
The thought provoking day ended with a final Peter Vardy session discussing Natural Law and Sexual Ethics. This was a mentally taxing day which was made much easier by the energy and enthusiasm of the speakers and has enabled students to be ready and confident to teach these topics during the Post 16 elements of their teaching placements. The school based partners were equally pleased to have been able to attend and leave having considered how to improve their teaching of A level.
“Thanks for a informative, educational day” – Glynn, teacher of A level RS in a partner school.
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.
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.
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.