Sue Phillips once again visited Edge Hill to show us how to teach RE using the ‘Theatre of Learning’ pedagogy which she has developed. This year Sue was able to send two days with us, spending a day with PGCE students and a day with final year Undergraduates.
Both days followed a similar format, beginning with students spending time being introduced to ‘The Island’ the groundbreaking introduction to religious education invented by Sue and used by many schools throughout the country. This was followed by an investigation of how religion-neutral exercised can provide a meaningful way into deep religious understanding for many students.
Sue was able to show how each of the major world faiths can be taught using this methodology, ensuring concepts are understood by pupils. The students were hugely impressed with all they saw and experienced:
“It was one of the best sessions we have had at Edge Hill” – Matt
Nationally recognised as the leading figure in using Technology to enhance the teaching of RE, Paul Hopkins has again been to Edge Hill to show our final Year Undergraduate and Postgraduate students some exciting ways of integrating technology in their teaching.
I thought it was very good. Some great ideas to use in the classroom. -Adam
Paul firmly rooted all he talked about in a thorough understanding of pedagogy. Technology should be used only when it will enhance the teaching of RE.
That said he was able to demonstrate a number of great way of using ipads and other technology in the classroom. QR codes, Aurasma and Nearpod were but a few of the apps which students got to use during the day.
The students ended the day by using the ipads to create little films of a religious story!
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.
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.
Sue Phillips visited Edge Hill university to invite PGCE and Final Year KS2/3 Undergrauate students to spend a day in the Theatre of Learning. Sue has pioneered this exciting and experiential form of RE over the past few years and was delighted to share her pedagogy with the students.
Students were shown the famous ‘Island’, and a variety of religion neutral exercised. Evaluation, spirituality, assessment, and even quantum physics all featured in the day, whilst the session ended withstudents being invited to don bin bags and empathise with the experience of a homeless person.
Students were inspired by this day and are eager to put Sue’s ideas into practice on their final teaching practice.
Year 3 RE Undergraduates visited the Gurdwara Sri Harkishan Sahib Ji in Manchester to hear about Sikh beliefs and history and experience Langar. On a cold morning we entered the gurdwara, removed our shoes and covered our heads. ‘Abs’ a young member of the congregation gave us a talk outlining many elements of Sikhism and answered many questions that the students found helpful in their developing knowledge of the faith – and in answering their assessment.
We were then treated to a reading from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and shown how the Guru is treated with respect. The final treat was the Langar, a potato dish and a lentil dish with bread and a drink.
Yunus Chasma came to Edge Hill University to talk to Year 3 students about Sufism as both a journey and a destination. He said that Sufism is ‘independent of any other religion’ and is a way of living and being. Students were introduced to the idea of Allah as the Beloved, and learnt about a lot of different Sufi Masters. We discussed ‘Who am I’ and what defines us and how we feel about Love (different kinds of love and the feelings associated with Love), we also discussed Love and the self. Sufism surpasses the laws of Shariat (the law) and instead goes through to Tariqat (the path), Haqiqat (the journey) and Marifat (the destination).
Students thought it was really insightful and awakening; Yunus made comparisons with Christianity (Jesus) which made difficult concepts more relatable and understandable, it provided a good perspective of a Sufi’s relationship with Allah. It was good to hear first hand what Makkah was like as an experience, Yunus was very open and honest. We really enjoyed the different analogies used (even if non religious) to help us understand, for example the Elephant story. We found that the visit was in the right place and was pitched really well.
Paul Hopkins spent a day with Year 3 RE Undergraduates to outline how new technologies can improve teaching and learning and how assessment can be made easier with IT.
Paul pioneered the use of ICT in the RE classroom and has widely lectured both nationally and internationally on the use of ICT, e-learning and pedagogic development. He has produced CD-ROMs, TV programmes, academic papers, books and many websites. He has, and continues to give papers at conferences and run many courses up and down the country on RE, education and IT matters and has is, or has been, a consultant to the DfE (DfES/DCSF), QCDA (QCA), TDA (TTA) and BECTa on educational matters. He joined the staff at the University of Hull in 2009 to lead the PGCE in RE but now works on a number of educational programmes including leading the Masters in Learning and Teaching with New Technologies course and continuing to research into technology enhanced learning.
Paul helped the students to understand the theory behind using technology as a pedagogic tool, considered issues such as access and e-safety, before moving on to more practical experiences of IT in the classroom. These included using ipads, QR codes and a variety of websites. The most enjoyable part of the day was saved for the end of the session when students showed the short videos on the 5Ks that they had made. Students were able to go away from the sessin with concrete ideas about when and how they could use technology in the RE classroom.
For the last three years the second year KS 2-3 RE Trainees have attended the Autumn Holocaust Conference at the Imperial War Museum of the North. The Conference is organised jointly between the Museum and the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester University. As part of their Judaism studies the conference give a unique and valuable opportunity for our trainees to explore different aspects of the Holocaust.
This year the theme was Hiding, Flight and Rescue under Nazi occupation.
Scholars from Britain, Europe and the USA presented their research on how despite the odds some European Jews managed to survive the relentless onslaught of the Nazis.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was hearing the personal witness of Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines who shared her memories of the Kindertransport and her escape from Czechoslovakia as a nine year old with her younger sister. Despite the great odds stacked against her family, once she and her sister were settled in Britain, she was reunited with her Father and then later her Mother who had managed to escape through Sweden.
An inspirational day that brought home the complexity of the human responses to the Holocaust and of the power of the human spirit to endure the most dreadful persecutions and yet not be crushed. As always following days like this I was left pondering what I would have done if faced with such persecution and hatred?