RE at Edge Hill

Tag: School (page 3 of 5)

SOLO & Technology at Holly Lodge

Year 2 RE Undergraduate students prepared for their placement with a visit to one of our partner schools Holly Lodge Girls’ College where Former Edge Hill graduate Terri Lee is Head of RE and led the informative and useful session.  The afternoon began with a quiz using Socrative, to assess our prior knowledge.

Then Colin Riddell, Lead Learning Innovator at the school, went through some of the theory surrounding SOLO taxonomy, including Lego and y8 science examples.

Rachael Douglas: The session really enthused me. I loved learning about solo taxonomy and want to apply this method of teaching if I can. Good to visit the school as well.

Applying this to RE,  Terri showed us an example of how she used SOLO taxonomy in her practice- an example from A Level Business Ethics.

Students then had opportunity to work on their own lesson plans structuring the planning using SOLO taxonomy.

Jade Parke: I thought it was really good and I’ll definitely use the resources they gave us in my lessons on placement! I thought the solo taxonomy was really easy to understand and is very student friendly 🙂 also I like the idea of using all that technology in classrooms

Next, Colin showed us Triptico, an Internet based collection of interactive resources which enable imaginative teachers to create engaging learning tools.  One of the features  is the ability to move and create hexagons on an interactive whiteboard, clearly linking to SOLO.

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Next up was Edmodo, described as a bit like Facebook for schools.   This is completely free! and gives teachers the ability to communicate safely with pupils.  Terri showed us how she uses it with her A level students for discussion and younger pupils as a way of sharing resource which she suggests is particularly useful for stretching higher level students.  By signing up and joining the classroom, we were all able to access the resources from the day.

Christie Kennedy: I really enjoyed the session, I thought the technology stuff was really good and I think solo taxonomy would be really good to use in the classroom (need to try and get my head around it a little more though)

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Lastly, Terri showed us progress books, which look good in principle – as a way of tracking progress throughout a pupil’s school career, Fillling these out by hand could be can be quite tiem consuming, so creative staff such as Terri and Colin have used Google forms to generate this feedback in an efficient way.

 Nicola Lyon: I think it was really useful. Solo taxonomy was good 🙂 and all the computer stuff makes life a while lot easier 🙂 I learnt a lot

A Very Special School

Lucy has written about Year 1 Undergraduate’s visit to a special school. You can read more of her blog posts here:

I was really excited to visit Rowan Park Special School, having had very little experience outside of mainstream schools. Prior to our visit, I had a quick browse of their website ( and so I had somewhat of an idea as to what to expect. There is even a gallery on the website, titled ‘School Tour’, which gives a quick glimpse into the schools layout and inside some of the classrooms.

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Rowan Park accommodates ‘up to 133 pupils aged 3 to 19 years, with severe, complex, profound and multiple learning difficulties, ASC and sensory impairments.’ Our visit was both inspiring and instructive in equal measure, and so it came as no surprise to me that OFSTED rated it ‘Outstanding‘. Each classroom varied according to the age of the pupils and were adapted to their specific learning requirements – no classroom looked the same. As I had expected, classes consisted of small groups of around 7 pupils. In spite of this, each room had multiple TA’s, reflecting the very specific needs of individuals. I remember thinking, ‘this job requires the patience of a saint!’.

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I loved the way in which the school had clearly made an effort to be as close to mainstream education as possible. It was clear that some of the pupils, who might eventually progress to a mainstream school, would not find the transition too severe a jump. In fact, it was interesting to consider that they often find that pupils who have become reliant on one to one support in mainstream schools, often find it difficult to adapt when transferring to a Special School. This is because Rowan Park encourages its students to be both independent learners and to work as a group.

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The ‘Adventure Park’ and the playing areas were fantastic; as Fran commented, her niece would be ‘in her element’. Rowan Park really had thought of every child’s requirement, such as ensuring that a child confined to a wheelchair would still be able to enjoy the roundabout along with the other children. We were also informed that the parents of the pupils are given the opportunity to purchase a £60 pass, which enables them to access the park at all times, both inside and outside of school hours. This provides a safe environment for the children, where they can feel safe and not judged by others unaware of their disabilities. The playing area is quite clearly well loved as, during our tour, we overheard one of the children refusing to go back inside!

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I can definitely see the appeal of working in a Special school such as Rowan Park; it is a very tight knit community, with some members of staff having seen pupils grow from the age of 3-19. The staff were truly inspiring and the school an invaluable place for young people to learn.

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ROWAN PARK, N/D. Rowan Park School. [online] Available from: [Accessed 10/2/15]

Meeting Muslims

Year 1 undergraduates study a module on Islam.  A key part of the course is to meet, talk with and learn from followers of the faith, to get a real life, contemporary understanding of what it means to be a Muslim in 21st Century Britain.

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First up we met Yunus Chasma who is a follower of the Sufis. One of the students, Luke commented about what he had learnt:

Sufism is an essence without form. It is independent from everything, and is free from the shackles of religion. Pure Sufism is finding the fullness of knowledge from God, where the worshiper sees God alone in all that he contemplates and at the same time feels a total and ecstatic sense of his presence.

“When the individual self is lost, the universal self is found”. The soul can directly communicate and become united with God, so that a Sufi can be the perfect man.

The following week we had a question and answer session with four Muslim  RE PGCE students: Aisha, Shabana, Nasira and Zaleka.  The discussion was wide ranging from fasting to prayer, to arranged marriage and even Beyoncé! What was great was to be able to first hand hear about the variety of interpretations of Islam.  Athe visitors were able to show how though this answers weren’t always the same they were all Muslims.

The final experience was a day in Preston Muslim Girls High School and the Quwattul Islam Mosque where we met a number of practicing Muslims and had some fantastic experiences.


The day began with Riyaz Timol who is currently completing a  PhD at Cardiff on contemporary British Islam.   He explained how King Offa had interacted with Islam as early as the Eigth Century, that the first UK Mosque was opened in 1889 in Liverpool and that a large expansion, mainly through Post World War II  post colonial immigration meant that there is now close to 2000 mosques.  Religion and culture are frequently intertwined within the immigrant community. For many Muslims their religion is just an extension of their culture. For example,  arranged marriage is a cultural phenomenon contra to Islam based on the Hadith. FGM would be another example.  He spoke about the rise in Islamophobia since 9/11.  He suggested that much ‘extremism’ is political grievance dressed up as religious rhetoric. In Riyaz’ experience Imams base their teaching on Qur’an and are not radicalising agents. He recommended a free online course that he is involved in delivering, Muslims in Britain: changes and challenges:

Zahra Patel gave us a perspective of a British Muslim woman. She started wits some group work, asking what does society say about women in connection with religion, education, work and home.  She pointed out that at Eton, the uniform gives the boys a proud identity.  Zara wears a niqaab for the same reasons. But she is not just “the girl in the niqaab” she is the girl who loves football, pizza and watching Rafael Nadal!!  She is a feminist, and not in any way the oppressed woman the media would paint her as.

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We were then treated to a delicious vegetable biryani, before going over the road to the Quwattul Islam Mosque to observe the  zuhr prayers, an inspiring experience, before meeting the Imam.

Imam Ismail explained he is the leader of Salah, but there is no priesthood in Islam.  His other roles include marriage ceremonies, funerals, teaching the children in the madrasah, mediating disputes and dispensing advice.  On a Friday he gives a khutbah, a sermon which is written by the imam in response to the perceived needs of the congregation one week this is in Urdu, the next in English.  Women are allowed to the mosque , but this mosque doesn’t have facilities due to the cultural heritage of the mostly Gujerati congregation. He explained that Men and women must worship separately because there would be the possibility of distraction if they were together.

Waqaus Ali, our host then took us on a tour of the Mosque,  explaining many of the beliefs and customs associated with the faith, including wuzu, giving zakat and sadaqah, and of course prayer.

We then had a chance to meet a number of year 10 pupils from the school and talk to them about various important aspects of the faith, including the Qur’an, Muhammad and the five pillars. This was really fascinating, being able to hear such eloquent young members of the Islamic faith.

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The day ended with a plenary feedback activity, where it was clear that the students had learnt much from the many Muslims they had been able to meet and discuss with. These experiential learning opportunities are key features of the course and will enable the students to complete their assignment, but also to teach Islam with conviction on their school placements.

Teaching A Level at Deanery

As a follow up to the inspirational day with Peter and Charlotte Vardy, Final Year Undergraduate students visited Deanery CofE High School and Sixth Form College in Wigan, to hear about the practicalities of teaching Post-16 students.  The day began with students observing a Lower Sixth Ethics lesson with Mr Michiels. He used a variety of techniques to introduce Kant’s deontological ideas including the Ricky Gervais film ‘The Invention of Lying’ and Phoebe from Friends’ attempts at performing a selfless good act.

Lesson two was an Upper Sixth Philosophy lesson with Miss Daley, where the students were working in groups to revise the topic of Miracles. They used a market place activity before finishing with a fun quiz using buzzers. Progress was measured by students’ self evaluating at the start and end of the lesson using RAG scoring, allowing them to set their own revision targets. Both upper and lower sixth were handing in essays, reminding us about the demanding workload for students and teachers in the Sixth Form.

After a cup of tea in the staff room at break, Sarah led a session on teaching and Assessing RE at KS5, giving examples of what makes a good A level lesson. Students were struck the many of the techniques and activities were just the same as lower down the school, with structured lessons using active learning, an emphasis on questioning and facilitating independent learning – simply at a higher level.


The morning ended with students working together to plan a short plenary for the Upper Sixth lesson on predestination which they then delivered. The undergraduates are now well prepared to plan and deliver A level classes on their final placement after Christmas, or even in their first teaching job!


Doing Diwali

It has now become a tradition for Year 1 Edge Hill University undergraduate students who are studying teaching and RE  to visit Blackbrook St Mary’s Primary School.


Again this year we were asked to visit and perform the story of Diwali. We had prepared the week before learning our lines and setting up the props that we needed, however I was still very nervous as this was the first time I have ever been involved in any sort of play production. I was playing the brother called Lakshmi and even though I didn’t have any lines I was still an important role within the play. In my opinion I thought the production went very well the children enjoyed themselves and were really interacting with ourselves by booing and cheering the other characters on the stage. The week before this play when we first began rehearsing I knew very little about the story and celebrations of Diwali, however now I am very confident when telling the story and moreover I enjoy talking and telling the story.

The second stage of the morning, we spilt off into our own small groups of two or three and headed into the classroom for the first time. I have to admit that I was looking forward more to this part than the play. I entered a year three classroom where the pupils were brilliantly behaved and really reacted well to the starter and plenary we had previously planned. For the starter we handed around a hat with various questions in it and when they pulled the question out of the hat they would have to try and answer it. The children were then involved in a carousel of art and craft activities linked to the Diwali story.  For the plenary which I created, there were various images that I uploaded, the children had the opportunity to guess if they didn’t know or if they did know to put their hands up and provide me with their answer.


Finally after playtime (for the pupils – not us!) we were given a tour of the school by the Headteacher.  She was able to explain some of the philosophy behind the school’s approach to educating their children – including the outside classrooms, lots of play-based learning and phonics.


I felt that the whole visit: the assembly, classroom exercise and tour went extremely well and gave me confidence that I will be able to carry with me through to my placement next year.

Blog post by Luke Mythen.  You can follow his blog at


“A truly inspiring RE department”

There is no substitute for seeing good RE practice in action so RE PGCE trainees were given a taste of what makes a really effective RE team at Cowley International College on September 5th. Trainees met senior staff and  heard an enthusiastic endorsement of RE by the Head Teacher. We were treated to presentations by Edge Hill RE PGCE graduates Rachel, Chelsea and Ashley and Edge Hill Professional Mentor, Sue. Trainee feedback speaks for itself, enjoy the comments!

Joe Murphy writes:

Our PGCE group was lucky enough to have an insight to a successful Religious Education department last week. The trip was very insightful and encouraging.

The morning started with a brief introduction from the Head of the RE department followed by a briefing from the Deputy Headmaster. The information that we were given during this time was exactly what we needed as we started in a school such as this one the following Monday. Here we received great advice how to remain professional in and out of the classroom and staffroom.  We had information previous to this in Edge Hill, however it was good to hear it from the staff at the school as they take pride in their professionalism and have had some experience with the consequences of teachers not adhering to the laws of professionalism.

After this we went to an RE classroom, here we took part in a discussion with the Head of RE and completed some tasks in pairs. This was a great exercise as it involved me working with people in my PGCE group that I have not had the chance to work with yet. During the activity we prioritised the jobs and responsibilities of a teacher. The results were very insightful as each group had a different answer, showing us that all of these attributes are equally important.


Next on our to-do list was to liaise with some RE students within the school. This was a major help and a great activity as it gave us hints and tips from the children themselves about what they like to do in a RE lesson, why they enjoy RE and what they have learned from RE. Speaking to the children was a great idea as it solidified my decision to become an RE teacher, it had taught these kids some very valuable lessons that they use in everyday life.

Lastly we had a chance to talk to some of the staff of the school that had graduated from the course that we are about to embark on. For me this was a very worthwhile exercise as it answered some of the questions that I had about the course from a previous student’s point of view. The girls who finished this course are now in their first teaching job and to see that was encouraging and it silenced some of the doubts that were forming in my head.

To finish what was an excellent experience, we done some meditation with another teacher who had graduated from Edge Hill two years previous. She showed us the process that she had undertaken with some of her classes after it proved to be very successful. This was a great idea and very rewarding, it had a great effect on the children that took part and it is something that I could see myself doing in the future. This idea allows the children to express themselves and it can also create a good relationship with a class, and in some cases could make a difficult class easier to teach.For me the day at Cowley high school was an extremely worthwhile experience and it made me feel a bit more confident about the PGCE.

Shabana writes: Sharing dialogue with Religious Education pupils reinforced the validity of the subject amongst today’s youth.

Nasira writes: They helped calm any nerves about the impending placement and assessments. I also found the meditation session wonderful and will definitely be using it in my lessons!

Final words go to Rosanna who sums up the experience for us all when she says:  Overall it was a fantastic experience. It was truly inspiring to see a successful RE department, and meet teachers who very clearly believe in the value of Religious Education




A Very Special School Visit

Year 1 Undergraduate Students spent a very worthwhile afternoon in a local school for children with Special Educational Needs.  Rowan Park School is an Outstanding School, meeting the needs of up to 126 pupils aged 3 to 19 years, with severe, complex, profound and multiple learning difficulties, ASC and sensory impairments.

Students studying to be Secondary RE teachers at Edge Hill were met by the Deputy Headteacher, Cathy Harley.  She gave an overview of the work of the school before leading students on a tour of the school.  We started at the youngest end of the school, where the butterflies, who may be as young as 3 spend their school time.  We finished up at the Oldest End – where the 6th Form students have their common room – and heard about the plans for expansion. In between we saw all manner of brilliant teaching going on, with specialist rooms for children with syndromes such as Autism, the hydrotherapy pool, and the dark and light sensory rooms.

We were struck by the patience, dedication and skill of the staff, and were challenged to think how this form of education could help us to become outstanding teachers.  A number of students expressed a desire to have a placement – or some enhancement time – in a school like Rowan Park.  This is something that we will endeavour to arrange; we have had RE students placed at the school for the last couple of years who have had a wonderful experience with fantastic outcomes and gone on to secure employment quickly at the end of their course.




Post 16 Preparation

Final Year Undergraduates spent a morning at Deanery Church of England High School Sixth Form College to learn about the teaching of RE Post 16, and specifically A level RE.


Sarah Daley, Assistant Head of RE at the school told us about the Art of teaching A Level, using some recent examples from her teaching, such as a lesson comparing the Judeo-Christian Creation stories at AS level and the Augustinian Theodicy at A2.  we were reminded that at A-level, teaching does not radically change and that structuring a lesson is still important to encourage student engagement.


Sarah spoke to us about the procedures at Deanery for assessment of student work and the tracking of progress which goes on, before finishing with some thoughts about the upcoming changes to the way A Levels will be assessed in the near future.


After a brief chat with the Head Boy, about the challenges of A level from a student point of view we were able to go and observe former Edge Hill student Taco Michiels teaching a very small Upper VI RE lesson on business ethics.  We were able to recognise the influence of Edge Hill as Taco started the lesson by outlining the Key Question behind the enquiry, “what if all businesses behaved ethically?”.  He went on to use some active learning techniques with the class – a silent discussion and some creative Diamond 9 sorting.


A brew in the staffroom at breaktime was followed by a chance to observe Sarah teaching her Lower VI class on the problem of evil, and again we could see that good teaching at A level looks very similar to good teaching at all ages: an odd-one-out activity, images as thought-provoking stimuli, picture sorting, a market place activity and high-quality teacher input were all squeezed into the hour long lesson, which had pace and challenge without ever seeming rushed.

“Thanks to Taco and Sarah for today – I now feel much better prepared (and less scared!) to teach A level RE in my next placement” – Katie



“The Trainee teachers were wonderful to work with”- Stretford High pupils teach the teachers

School based partnerships are at the core of what we do in the RE ITT team and we are always looking for ways to develop and enrich trainee experience. As a national priority behaviour for learning is right at the fore of the DfE’s agenda for ITT, but as everyone who has been a trainee or a new teacher knows getting those relationships right in the classroom can be a big concern. This year we were warmly welcomed not only by our outstanding Stretford High school colleagues, Layla, Faisal and Mez, but the most important people of all- the pupils!

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We visited Stretford High school on 11th November and received some characteristically effective training and development on how the school’s successful systems work.  In the first session Layla showed how restorative justice and a really coherent pastoral house system work to support everyone achieve the best outcomes.

There’s nothing like hearing what the pupils have to say about what they think makes a good teacher and that’s exactly what we got in the second session. Mez and Faisal (Head of Humanities) took us over to the Humanities are where year 9 pupils worked with RE trainees on the question, ‘What makes a good teacher?’ Trainees and pupils created some great posters and talked together about what really works. We were all unanimous that we wanted creative, fun classrooms but a disciplined and safe space to learn and teach in.

Here are a few examples of what trainees thought:

Dani said, “I think restorative justice is a great idea and I have used it in my own lessons to great effect. I find verbal praise works just as well and rewarding pupils with the chance to write on the interactive whiteboard seems to be a great incentive at getting pupils to behave within the classroom.”

Abbi said, “I enjoyed our trip to Stretford. I particularly liked the progressive C system that was in place and having it in the classroom is a great idea so that the pupils can visualise what ‘stage’ they are at and what the consequences will be.”

Jenni said, “I also enjoyed the trip to Stretford High, I thought the input from the students was very interesting and it was great to hear their opinions on what makes a good teacher!”

Jenny said, “I thought it was really interesting to see how another school tackles behaviour, and to see a system that allows restorative justice to have a huge impact on how children are managed.”

It was great to hear pupils views on the training too. They are clearly very reflective young people and it’s positive to get feedback from Junaid, an aspirational teacher,

“When we were working with the trainee teachers, I felt quite nervous at the beginning however, later on I became more confident and I was the one doing most of the talking”- Wafa

“I felt it was great experience for me, because if I decide to become a teacher, I can dwell upon this meeting with trainee teachers” – Junaid

“I enjoyed working with the trainee teachers as it has been a wonderful experience to express my ideas regarding what makes a good lesson/teacher. The trainee teachers were wonderful to work with as I have learnt a lot from this experience. I felt engaged and proud to work with them as a group and I hope them success for the future”-Kaoutar

An Inclusive Education

Year One Undergraduates were able to spend a morning in one of our Partnership High schools to begin to see how the school makes sure that all pupils make progress.

The morning at Lathom High School began with Trevor Hodson, Assistant Headteacher for teaching and learning, describing how RE had moved away from its former identity as the ‘Cinderella Subject’ and was now as rigorous and challenging as any other subject.  He showed how serving teachers are expected to make sure that all pupils are making progress throughout the lesson, by using an example year 8 RE lesson that he had recently taught.

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Following Trevor, was Jenny Clarke, a Graduate of Edge Hill’s Undergraduate RE teaching course, who in four years has progressed to be leading the teaching of RE in the school as well as fulfilling a challenging pastoral role as the head of Year 10.  She encouraged students to put all of their efforts into being successful, overcoming the hardships of the course and going on to be Outstanding teachers of RE.

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Finally students were able to explore the Every Child Matters Centre in order to gain a better understanding of the support structures which a high school can put in place to care for every child.  Through   the support and guidance of Mentors, Counsellors and SEN specialists conflicts can be resolved, relationships restored and progress made.

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These sort of visits to school based practitioners are essential in challenging the preconceptions of students and enabling them to reflect on their experiences in order to go on and be outstanding practitioners themselves.

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