Tag Archives: Visit

Dynamic Partnerships

Inspiration and professional messages from Stretford High

You don’t need me to tell you that training as a secondary teacher is a daunting process, so it makes it all the more important that our trainees hear from recently qualified successful practitioners who are making an impact. We’ve enjoyed a strong partnership with Stretford High school since Nick Theodosiou, former RE trainee, completed his placement at the school in 2010. Nick has gone on to become one of our lead CMs and Deputy Head of Humanities.

In September Nick led a training session focussing on all the key professional messages that beginner teachers need to hear. Nick outlined to trainees what they can do through their professional conduct to ensure a successful professional placement.

We were joined by the Head Teacher Mr Haseldine and Professional Mentor, Linda Smith who shared their positive, forward thinking vision for education with us. Mr Haseldine generously shared his professional journey into leadership, exploring the challenges and the joys of teaching. Mr Haseldine underlined why he thinks RE is such an important subject in his school- morale boosting messages to hear at the start of a challenging journey!
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Inclusion and nurture at Accrington Academy

The period after first placement is always a good time to take stock of some of the more complex and challenging aspects of teaching. PGCE RE trainees received a programme of outstanding training from our colleagues at Accrington Academy, led by Professional Mentor and RE Curriculum Mentor, Rebecca Conn- yes, another excellent Edge Hill alumni and an outstanding mentor!

Rebecca was joined by Sue Coates, who graduated from the RE PGCE course in 2009 and specialises in SEN. Sue analysed best practice in SEN using a video of one of her nurture group lessons. We enjoyed a session in the nurture classroom with Michelle Hargreaves who explained the principles of attachment theory and strategies she uses to support nurture pupils both pastorally and academically.

We were up-dated on how to incorporate best literacy and phonics practice into RE through a Sounds Write session led by Jenny Jones and after lunch (always a treat!), Nick Hughes gave us a truly dynamic demonstration of differentiation for the most able through challenging questioning. Rebecca led on reflections, questions and discussion in the plenary. Trainees and tutor left inspired!

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EAL and Inclusion at Manchester Communications Academy

Many thanks to (yes, more Edge Hill Alumni) Nichola Rodden and Alex Reed for their high quality EAL training offered to our RE trainees on 18th March. PGCE training should be an opportunity for trainees to see and experience a wide range of school settings, so we were all highly impressed by the innovative environment and the progressive teaching and learning practice we observed at Manchester Communications Academy.

The highlight of the day was the opportunity to work with some exceptional year seven pupils who had agreed to let us assess them as a part of an EAL assessment exercise. We learnt a lot from them and Alex- needless to say these talented year seven pupils demonstrated brilliant skills!

Subject Knowledge Enrichment- exploring faith in Manchester

Experiential learning through visits to faith communities continues to be an integral feature of the course, not least because we hope our trainees will develop their own RE network from the experiences. We are fortunate to have such a rich and culturally diverse resources with so many faith communities in our region.

In December we visited the Manchester Triratna Buddhist centre and were warmly welcomed by Richard, the new education colleague in Clear Vision. We enjoyed some rich philosophical debate and discussion with Richard, exploring Buddhist perspectives on the origins of the universe and whether a first cause is necessary to explain the fact there is a universe in existence. I couldn’t help thinking these debates were reminiscent of the Buddha’s dialogues with the Brahmin sages of his day. Richard summed our lively debate up nicely, “It was a blast!”

From the Buddha’s dharma we switched emphasis to Judaism with a visit to Manchester Jewish museum. If you’ve not been before, it’s well worth a visit, especially because your pupils will be able to handle artefacts in a grade 11 listed Sephardic synagogue. It’s a visual and kinaesthetic treat and will really convey the richness of Jewish culture in a way a text book simply can’t achieve.
We followed up this exploration of Judaism with David Arnold in February who gave us his personal perspective on the joy of living as Jew from the wonderful setting of Stenecourt Schule. David explored complex aspects of the Jewish faith as a way of life, examining scripture, prayer, symbolism and Shabbat. David summed up what Judaism really means to practitioners with this analogy, which I think really captures what religion means to believers of all traditions,

“Just as a book on anatomy can’t convey what a body really is, a text book on Judaism can never capture the meaning of Judaism- it is a way of life”

 

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AfL & Co-operative Learning

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Sikh-ing Understanding

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.

Year two attend Holocaust Conference at the Imperial War Museum of the North

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?

 

Joy of Judaism Day

As part of their study of Judaism the Year 2 RE Trainees enjoyed a ‘Joy of Judaism’ day at Stencourt Shul, Prestwich Manchester. The day was led by David Arnold an old friend of the RE team who made us all really welcome. David  gave us an insiders view into the vibrant Jewish community of North Manchester.

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After a tour of the Synagogue we discussed Jewish belief and practice in detail.  David had brought a specially baked Challah loaf for us and it was devoured in record time by the group. The significance of Kosher food and the role that  food in general plays in Jewish family life became somewhat a theme for the day.

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Holding onto the food theme, perhaps the highlight of the day was the delicious Kosher meal that we enjoyed at J.S. Restaurant,  chicken soup all round, seemed to be the order of the day. Despite the lovely challah bread that the group had eaten just beforehand, some brave souls also managed kosher ice cream sundaes.

After lunch there was also time for a quick visit to the Judaica shop across the road for all those artefacts that every trainee RE teacher could wish for.

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Good company, good food and all in all a very good day. I am already looking forward to next year’s kosher fish and chips!

KS4 Judaism Conference

Year 2 Undergraduates who have been studying Judaism this semester took their knowledge and skills into school for two days recently.

Lathom High School held a two day conference for their Year 10 pupils.  On the first day Staff from the school were joined by RE undergraduates from Edge Hill as the whole year was taken off timetable to work in small groups to study the religion. Staff from the school were grateful for the help of the students and commented very favourably on the way they were able to work with pupils who they had not met before.

This groupwork was to prepare pupils for the highlight of day 2 – when Edge Hill trainees helped to supervise the Year 10s as they met firstly  David Arnold and then Jack Aizenberg – a survivor of the holocaust.

This was an excellent opportunity for the students of Edge Hill to put their Jewish Studies into perspective, gain more experience of working with a diverse range of Key Stage 4 pupils and to hear Jack’s story.

Behaviour for learning at Stretford High School

PGCE trainees enjoyed high quality behaviour management training courtesy of our colleagues at Stretford High school. As always, we received a very warm welcome from our Stretford colleagues, including Faisal Ahmed and Mez Munshi, recent highly successful PGCE alumni. Stretford’s lead behaviour and attendance professional, Leila, took us through Stretford’s highly successful behaviour policy which underlined just how effective a systematic whole school approach is. Consistency, good use of praise and rewards and careful, proactive monitoring of attendance all emerged as the key ingredients to ensuring behavior for learning. We also gained valuable insights into the use of the school’s staged consequences and restorative justice.

The stars of the session were the three year 11 pupils who joined us to give their perspective on class management. The pupils told us that they valued a fair and consistent approach. We learnt that they knew when a teacher was making the effort with them and shouting wasn’t effective, quite the opposite and likely to back-fire! It was interesting to hear that the pupils expected teachers not to hold grudges- all wise advice from the people who count the most, the learners.

We finished with some helpful advice from Faisal, who is leading on aspects of the school’s pastoral review, developing the role of the form captain. Once again we came away from Stretford High inspired with the knowledge that good systems work and have impact on pupil achievement.

Seeking enlightenment at the Triratna centre!

Year 2 trainees enjoyed an enlightening visit to the beautiful Triratna Buddhist centre (22.11.12) gaining the insider’s perspective on what it really means to live as a Buddhist in 2012. Our speaker, Munisha,(Clear Vision) offered us a very warm welcome and a much appreciated brew, before telling us the story of the Manchester Buddhist centre. We then experienced the peace of the main shrine room, which demonstrated how calm surroundings produce more peaceful states of mind. After a fascinating Q/A session we were left with a deeper understanding of key Buddhist values, especially right livelihood and the importance of spiritual friendship. As always Munisha made the perfect host, thoughtful,open and generous in her responses to trainee questions. Everyone said how much they enjoyed the session and we only wished we’d had more time for more questions! I’m sure that the visit will result in future RE school trips when our year 2 trainees become RE teachers.
I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and am already looking forward to the PGCE visit in December. After enjoying such good company this morning, it seems appropriate to finish with some words of the Buddha:

“The company of the wise is joyful, like reunion with one’s family.Therefore, live among the wise, who are understanding, patient, responsible, and noble. Keep their company like the moon moving among the stars” [Dhammapada, 15: 207-208]

First taste of school

Year 1 Undergraduates had their first taste of school as they visited Lathom High School in Skelmersdale for an intensive morning’s introduction to school.

For the first part of the day students visited the Every Child Matters centre where Deputy Head, Jane Galbraith, explained the fantastic work that the centre does, in providing support for pupils’ needs.  Around 20% of the school have some interaction with the centre, making use of either the Learning Mentors, TAs, Counsellors or a combination.  Jane outlined the referral process so students were introduced to School Action, Action Plus and Statementing.  The school’s EAL provision was also outlined; 10% of the year 7 entry in 2011 were identified as EAL learners!  Students were particularly interested in the idea of ‘restorative justice’ where two parties who have a disagreement are brought together in an attempt to resolve the problem.

Trevor Hodson an Assistant Head in charge of teaching and learning in the school, and former Head of RE, spent an hour with trainees talking about observations, Ofsted, being outstanding and performance management.  He showed how data was used in the school to monitor pupil progress and how RE needed to be academically rigorous, making use of AfL techniques and approaches to teaching including, Bloom, Kagan, Mindmapping, Thinking Hats and interactive technologies.

By observing an RE lesson, students were able to see some of these things in practice and realised that everything that happens in a lesson needs careful planning and work by the teacher. Pupils do not ‘just’ raise their hand, but this routine, like all such routines, needs to be purposely developed with the pupils.  They saw the importance of planning a structured lesson, with all/most/some objectives and a range of learning styles employed. Praise and reward was a key factor in the teacher managing the behaviour of the class.

Finally the students spent time chatting to Jenny Clarke, an RE graduate from Edge Hill, who teaches RE at Lathom.  She helped to ease students’ worries about surviving the course and gave them valuable tips.  Jenny also stressed the importance of having high expectations, the value of pupil talk and group-work, the need for a variety of activities and the necessity of having behaviour management sorted!

The students had a most enjoyable and enlightening time and are eager to start their placements after the Christmas break.  Back at University the students reflected on their experiences and considered how what they had seen might influence the way they teach RE.