Here I explore some of the findings of the Texts and Teachers project, touching on links between institutional and personal worldview, deep conversations in the classroom, criticality and formal examinations structures. It is a prerecorded version of the second half of the session given at the joint AULRE/ CstG event on Thursday 14th and Friday 15th May 2020.
Opening the Door to Hermeneutical RE: The Findings Report
The Practice Guide: Classroom Tools for Sacred Text Scholarship
This project, a collaboration between Professor Bob Bowie and Ms Katie Clemmey of the National Institute for Christian Education Research (NICER) and the Centre for Research Evaluation in Muslim Education with Dr. Farid Panjwani at University College London (now renamed the Centre for the Study of Education in Muslim Contexts (CEMC) ), sought to support teachers in seven contrasting secondary schools, teach RE more hermeneutically. It came on the back of research by Bowie and others (for instance see here with Coles, and, by Panjwani and Revell, see here) and that the use of texts in RE classrooms is and has been an ongoing problem for many years that continues with the revised GCSE. It was inspired by the thought that a more hermeneutical approach in the subject might help both the transition to Religion and Worldviews education and also the development of a stronger disciplinary knowledge base. It was grant funded by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust and supported by Bible Society.
Early indications were presented at AULRE 2019 at Newman University. You can download this research poster here:
Opening the Door to Hermeneutical RE: The Findings Report outlines the project, its findings and conclusions.
The Practice Guide: Classroom Tools for Sacred Text Scholarship contains some of the professional development materials developed for the project. It is written to support teachers and curriculum designers teach RE with a focus on Sacred Text Scholarship.
Who is the report for?
The report is for teachers, curriculum leaders, curriculum designers and examination boards.
Summary of Findings
- The teachers described a sense of agency that hermeneutical tools gave students in activities around the interpretation of sacred text.
- The teachers reported that pupils were positive about engaging with longer extracts of sacred text including students who they had thought would struggle or lack motivation in such activities.
- Hermeneutical approaches in these cases led to a deeper quality of conversation in lessons about texts.
- Hermeneutics was seen as a valuable dimension in curriculum design allowing for progression through multi-religious study.
- Almost all of the teachers developed competent hermeneutical lessons, some with excellent examples of student work.
- From their key stage 3 changes, several teachers thought that hermeneutics would lead to better GCSE responses, particularly in explaining differences within religions. They also felt that a better space for hermeneutics could be included in exams.
In conclusion, we thought:
“Sacred text scholarship allows students to investigate the layers of meaning that people find significant. In making the hermeneutical process more explicit teachers help students become conscious of the process of reading sacred texts, and the place of the reader in making sense of a text, as well as the senses held by communities, and those held at different times and places. “
“There is a greater possibility for change and for reform of religious education if the idea of inhabiting the place of a sacred text scholar becomes part of Religion and Worldviews in schools. It offers one pathway to unlocking a disciplinary study of how people find significance and read meaning through worldviews.”
Blog piece written by Professor Bob Bowie and updated 30/3/2020
The NICER project, What really matters about teacher education at Cathedrals Group universities, sought to understand better how teacher education staff, partnership schools student teachers perceived their teacher education institutions and programmes including specific reference to the Institution’s Christian foundation.
The data was collected between November 2016 and January 2018.
- To investigate why ITE trainees choose Christian foundation university teacher training programmes
- To investigate why schools choose Christian foundation universities as training programme partners
- To investigate what Christian foundation universities claim is particular to their Christian foundation, what is particularly or deeply Christian about their ITE provision
- To investigate what Christian foundation universities, ITE trainees and partnership schools claim about ITE trainees at the point of qualification, that is particular to the institutions’ Christian foundation.
The National Institute of Christian Education Research at Canterbury Christ Church University led the research project. The project took place over two years with a pilot and qualitative phase and a quantitative phase.
Altogether, schools, students and university teacher educators from 5 universities were involved in both the quantitative and qualitative phases of the project:
- Canterbury Christ Church University
- Chester University
- Chichester University
- St Mary’s University
- Leeds Trinity UniversityIn addition, Bishop Grosseteste University participated in the quantitative phase of the project.
Reports are now available online for downloading. You can download a presentation here.
Summary Report summary-report-A4_final
What really matters about teacher education at Cathedrals Group universities and college? Volume 1: The Final Report CG-final-report
What really matters about teacher education at Cathedrals Group universities and college? Volume 2: The Case Studies, Case Studies
New research aims to help schools promote spiritual development in their pupils, against the growing demand for academic excellence.
Positive spiritual development is an obligation on all schools and required by law. But how are they to do this in an educational climate where the primary focus is on performance in tests, exams and league tables? What do we know about what happens in schools to support young people’s spiritual development?
A ground-breaking book Canterbury Christ Church University’s National Institute for Christian Education Research (NICER), Lessons in Spiritual Development, aims to help education professionals by showing how ten leading Christian-ethos secondary schools have prioritized the spiritual development of their students.
Each chapter tells the story of how one of the schools approaches this responsibility, showing the variety of innovation and creativity taking place within spiritual education. It offers wisdom from practitioners on the opportunities and challenges that exist, as well as inspiration to other schools wishing to improve their provision for spiritual development.
Richard Parrish, Head of Archbishop Tenison’s Church of England High School in Croydon (one of the ten schools) said:
“This unique book reflects a remarkable piece of research: ten schools for whom spiritual development matters particularly, a researcher who struck gold with her close and insightful attention to significant detail and a project which was ground-breaking in its conception and clarity of purpose. Each chapter has its own exciting story to tell!”
In his Foreword, Bishop Stephen Conway, Chair of the Church of England Board of Education, writes:
“All those seeking to promote an education which leads to the flourishing of our nation’s children and young people will be enriched by the stories of these ten leading schools.”
Dr Bob Bowie, Director of NICER, added:
“In today’s climate, it is so easy for the spiritual side of children’s lives to be squeezed out by the demand for academic performance. It has been a revelation to discover through our research the creative ways in which good schools make sure this doesn’t happen.”
One of the many students that Dr Casson interviewed during the course of the research had this to say:
“You can change the world with your actions if you put faith before everything.”
- Lessons in Spiritual Development: Learning from Leading Christian-ethos secondary schools by Ann Casson, Trevor Cooling and Leslie J. Francis is published by Church House Publishing. https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/books/9781781400340/lessons-in-spiritual-development.