PGCE trainees were able to have mock job interviews in preparation for applying for their NQT posts. They were put through their paces by some of our fantastic school-based mentors, who were able to offer guidance and feedback on their responses. Great to hear such positive feedback from trainees and interviewers alike!
Year 1 Undergraduates QTS students gained their first experience of school with a day at Hope Academy. We were met in the foyer by Rachael Critchley (Head of RE), Catha Seddon (Assistant Head of RE) and Jayne Cantwell (A very experienced RE Curriculum Mentor) and given a tour of the school. We met the Head of Year 7 as we visited the Year 7 Inspire time. Each year group has their form-rooms grouped together. We also had a quick look at the School Chapel, before we returned to our base in the conference room and briefly met the Academy Principal.
The next session was with Rachel Bradburn, the Professional Mentor, who looks after all trainees and NQTs as well as being an English and Media Studies teacher. Rachel helped us to think about what it means to be a professional. She asked us how we would develop our own professional persona and we did a rank ordering exercise with elements of Part 2 of the Teachers’ Standards. We then looked at some scenarios, before Rachel gave us some tips on how she would expect a trainee to demonstrate professionalism.
We then had another hour with Rachael and Catha, focussing on RE. Hope Academy is Outstanding RE department and they explained some of the features of their department that enabled them to achieve this inspection outcome. Hope Academy used the DTT approach to assessment, and so we were introduced to this. Students do a multiple choice test every 5-6 lessons (3 weeks) which they use to track their own progress. This ensures that pupils have mastery of the required knowledge. GCSE assessment formats are used throughout the school. Individual assessments are marked and then a class crib sheet is produced, which enables pupils to work on their own areas of weakness, something g which is being adopted across all subject areas now. Thinking about the roles of the RE teacher, we worked in pairs to sort some cards, initially into five categories, before giving the categories headings and ranking them. We shared our ideas together before completing a take away consolidation sheet to give us good evidence for our standards folders.
At break we met the rest of the RE department and then Bradie Gallagher, an NQT who graduated last year from our course. She gave a number of tips on how to take best advantage of the course. She helped us understand what would happen at the end of the course during our NQT year. She explained that observing people teach might seem like a chore, but is really useful.
For the last part we divided into two groups, one to observe Nicola Lyon (another graduate of the course) teach a year 7 lesson, and the other group to watch Catha teach year 8 who were doing a ‘therapy’ session as part of the DTT process. We were struck by how, in both classes, pupils were busily working independently with the guidance of the teacher. The year 7s were working on knowledge of the Ten Commandments which led up to a 5 mark Demonstrate Question. Pupils were given guidance on how to structure their answer.
Year 3 undergraduates visited Lowton CE High school to spend a day looking at teaching GCSE. Having battled through the traffic, we were met by Heather Clare, a very experienced RE teacher and Senior Teacher at the school.
Our first task was to look at the Specification (From AQA) and decide what religions and themes we would teach it we were the Head of RE. We then planned in what order we would deliver that, leading to a discussion of our different answers.
Heather helped us to understand the importance of key words, and of teaching the content in an efficient way, using the exam boards definitions. Heather’s delivery modelled good classroom practice throughout. We tested our knowledge of Jewish key words in a fun interactive way.
We turned to look at evaluation questions, and Heather challenged us to get our pupils to write like a river, or even an ocean, and not like a puddle (lacking depth, breadth and with nothing much there), or a pool (structured, contained, with arguments going one way then the next. With this in mind we had a go at assessing some evaluation questions, using the marking criteria, before looking at a task to help pupils ‘develop reasoned consideration’.
A year 10 class joined us then, for a lesson on Animal Rights. This began with a picture starter and a quick survey of opinions on food. Whiteboards were again used for definitions of key words. The lesson ended with some evaluation work, which would lead on in a future 12 mark question.
After Lunch, we looked at some examples from least years exam paper, looking at marking. Finally we looked at revision techniques, including Heather’s incredible audio revision recordings.
Year 3 undergraduate RE with QTS students spent a day at Haslingden High school, looking at how to teach A Level RS in a school with a sixth form. Ben Wood the Head of RE and the Chair of NATRE welcomed us and offered us pastries and coffee!
We then were able to observe a Year 13 RS lesson, focussing on sexual ethics, and specifically an introduction to Christianity and homosexuality. We saw how Karen, the teacher, skilfully introduced students to the massive changes to social attitudes which have occurred over recent years. Using the school produced literature, she guided students through traditional interpretations of key biblical texts relating to homosexuality. Drawing on prior Learning they applied Catholic teaching (such as natural law) to the issue, discussing how the church is responding to the complexities of the issue. Previously taught ideas, such as Jesus the Liberator, were used to show a more liberal Christian view. The lesson was mostly discussion and reading of the materials, with students making a few notes on their handouts.
Ben’s year 12 class started with him collecting in homework. He then gave them the questions for a timed assessment that they would do next week, with a recommendation to work on a plan over the weekend. The lesson was the beginning of the Developments of Christian Thought module and was looking at Augustine. The students were given homework on the background of Augustine. Genesis 2 and 3 was analysed, and will be used over the next few lessons. Ben led the class through Augustinian interpretations of this text. The final part of this double lesson focussed on Augustine’s teaching on human relationships.
This was followed by another Year 12 class, They had the follow on lesson about Augustine, and began where the previous class had finished, recapping what we had just seen. Whereas the earlier lessons had been very teacher led, in this one there was much opportunity for students to work independently, but Ben was constantly helping individuals with their work, explaining the concepts repeatedly. When Ben looked at students’ work, his praise was very specific: “the language you have used here is spot on!”, for example.
After a fantastic lunch supplied by the school we stayed with the same Year 12 class, but this time being taught by Karen. We joined in with the first activity, which revised key terms and the basics of Situation Ethics in an Active way. This was followed by a quick 15 minute test, as Karen wanted to see how well the students had got the basics, before moving on. Karen explained that the purpose of the test was not summative – about collecting marks, but about helping the students self identify what they need to revisit. In order to point out these areas, they were peer marked with missing information highlighted.Students were then set targets to work on in their independent study time.
At the End of the day we had a Q and A session with Ben and considered pedagogy, teaching styles, the intrinsic fascinating subject that Religion is, and Behaviour. Ben gave us a sample of NATRE materials and told us about the New2RE scheme.
For another year the RE PGCE trainees were able to attend the ITT conference at one of our outstanding partnership schools, Stretford High in Manchester. Trainees were involved in a range of sessions such as developing their teaching persona (led by Faisal Ahmed, Professional Mentor and Head of Humanities/Social Sciences Faculty), interview hints and tips (led by Headteacher Nicola Doward) and listen to the experiences of NQT and recent EHU RE ITT graduate, Emily Jones. They had opportunity to meet with some insightful and articulate Year 11 students who shared their thoughts on what make an effective teacher and a good RE lesson, before asking some tough questions to a range of staff who varied in experience. Despite some of the trainees being concerned that they didn’t have enough paper for all the notes they wanted to take (!) it was a great opportunity for them to not only develop their current practice, but also to think about taking their first steps in applying for their first teaching post. Many thanks to all at Stretford.
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!
You may have seen the television series Educating Greater Manchester. The Director of Inclusion at the school Miranda Rathmell is a former PGCE RE trainee from Edge Hill.
We were delighted that she was able to give up a day to help our Year 1 QTS Undergraduate RE students understand SEND and spend some time helping pupils at the school with additional needs.
We were also able to tour the school and meet a few od the stars (both staff and pupils) of the TV series, which is returning for a second series later in the year.
One of our fantastic Curriculum Mentors (and Ex-Edge Hill alumni!), Ruth Taylor from Burnley Hugh School, delivered an effective and engaging session for PGCE students on teaching GCSE RS. Using her own experiences of delivering the new Edxcel RS curriculum, Ruth was able to give practical strategies on differentiating, planning and assessment in GCSE RS. Trainees also got an opportunity to plan their own RE curriculum, thinking about the importance of embedding skills and content in KS3 for KS4 study. Thanks Ruth, you’re welcome back anytime! 🙂
We were welcomed to Haslingden High School by Sally Finney who is the director of teacher training at the school. Then Ben Wood, the Head of RE and Vice Chair of NATRE met us and explained the day.
The first class we observed was a Year 12 class.
Welcomed the class as ladies and gentlemen,
Homework collected in.
Revision questions – as part of the routine. Worked in silence. Numbers are 1,7, 13, 25, 30
Targeted questions by name, can you give me more? Still want a bit more. Did allow others to help fill out the answer….
Work is a continuation, looking at Augustine’s teaching. Last two this week, following on from Prior learning.
Students begin by reading through a source sheet (holes already punched for easy insertion into folders), making notes and drawing to a conclusion.
Students work informally in groups, to put the sources into for or against columns. Ben circulates and is called on by some for help. He is able to ask challenging questions and is clearly expert. He observes what some students are writing, and challenges some to write in more depth or ensure their conclusions are firmly evidenced. He is trying to get them to think beyond the obvious answers. Having already taught the knowledge in previous lessons he is helping to prepare for exam essay questions by debating.
When students have completed their work, they move on to the second question independently. The atmosphere is relaxed with a buzz of on-task chatter.
Work is not completed, so this will be returned to next lesson. Homework is to do 17 revision questions on body, mind and soul.
Ben then explains to us that at A level he is not interested in opinions which are short term, and easily changed. He is interested in conclusions based on evidence.
He outlined our task which is to read about Wittgenstein and language games and think about how they would teach the Year 13 lesson later. We did this, enjoying some breakfast pastries and struggled with both the subject content, and how we would present it to a Year 13 class.
Next we watched Ben actually teach it. As with the Year 12 class, the lesson started with 5 revision questions from the selection the students had done for homework which they first handed in. They have a short amount of time to do this on their own in silence, and they are given a one minute warning. These answers are shared, Ben selects a students to say their answer and rewords the correct answers to emphasise correct terminology. He further questions incorrect or incomplete answers.
The last two questions about Heaven, hell and purgatory being symbols or metaphors directly relates to today’s lesson. Ben begins with a mindmap on the board asking students prior knowledge of Wittgenstein. He uses the two Ideas they remember to draw out the difference between logical positivist, and Wittgensteinl’s later view. He asks if Wiggenstein can be described as a cognitive st or a non-cognivist.
He turns to the prepared information sheet. He stresses that the meaning of a word depends on its use. Words have no fixed meaning. Using Wittgenstein’s chess analogy he shows that meanin depends upon context.Students add to the printed notes.
He compares chess and football are different games and therefore have different rules. In the same way religious language has different rules from other forms of language. This means that the criticisms of the verification principle are irrelevant for the language game of religion.
To illustrate the key term lebensform, the students discussed ‘offside’ in football, rugby and driving, and then the changing meaning of ‘literally’. The understanding of this concept is enhanced and developed by discussion; students are free to answer or ask questions as they wish.
The lesson then turns to reading and interpreting a quote form D. Z. Phillips, suggesting that ‘eternal life’ has a meaning other than an infinite extension of living after death. Pupils are asked to write a paragraph exemplifying this idea. Ben offered help and challenge to students who requested it, or who he noticed needed help.
At the end of the lesson, students were given another set of revision questions to work on at home.
We then had lunch and then spent an hour discussing the theory of how to teach A Level RS.
Undergraduate QTS Third Year students spent an amazing day at Lowton CE High School to find out about teaching the new GCSE RE specifications. We bgan by looking at the AQA – two papers Religions and themes.
Tried to choose what religions and themes
Then attempted a curriculum map: what is best to do Religions first and then themes?
Then looked at setting and answering examinations. thinking carefully about the precise wording of questions, and how teaching needs to reflect these assessment objectives from the start.
‘Show my homework’ quizzes are used at Lowton to help revision.
Spent a lesson with year 10, looking at how to structure an evaluation answer on Animal Rights.
The pupils played a game with pieces of Card with 4 statements and two questions, to ensure everyone was talking about the knowledge gained in previous lessons. Following that pupils collaborated to write a 12 mark question on large whiteboards with each pupil using different pens. Groups then swapped boards to consolidate their answers, key words being highlighted.
Then year 9 joined us for a lesson on whether it is right to use animals for food.
Tasks, peer working, questioning, targeted, what do you think. One from this table. “Emotional response” praise, further explanation of pupil answers…
Link from pupil generated answers to ‘exam spec’ answers….Opinion question… visual stimulus … red green cards. Discuss….Memory Aid….. SIRS
Opinion questions with red green cards…. no discussion PACE!
Named pupil. Pick one and explain it….
From pupil generated to answers from spec… 4.
“If we say it we remember it!”
Ted talk…4 minutes…. talk about what you heard…. are you persuaded?
Recap on 4 reasons..
“You are going to have to talk about it-so write something that makes sense”
-key points on revision cards., drawn from an information sheet explaining three of the reasons… individual work.. tightly timed…
Movement… paired discussion … peer assessment… one explain, one listen for what is missed.
After a fabulous lunch, we returned to look at pupil exercise books discovering what is good and what challenges they present for teachers.
We considered what should go in pupil books and how it should be assessed.
Finally we bought about revision. Lowton stresses that after school revision sessions should be short and active. We tried a revision technique called lost luggage and another technique whee pupils would collaborate to make revision notes.