Beliefs, Philosophy and Ethics teacher Ms Coombe recently attended a conference that showcased the latest thinking and teaching in Religious Studies. The two-day event was organised by Culham St Gabriel's Trust and it gave an opportunity for teachers from around the country to share ideas, strategies and source the latest resources.
Ms Coombe said: ‘250 teachers attended and it was packed programme of seminars and keynote speakers. The most important thing was networking. I found out what other teachers are doing in their schools and we swapped email addresses. A couple of seminars brought us up to date with what is happening in the RE world. This weekend the Ofsted report into RE was released but we had the inside track before it came out. The event represented the schools where RE was seen as important.
‘The keynote speaker was very interesting, she was a church of England lay preacher, an inter-faith speaker, had no religion of her own and was also a Benedict oblate which meant she didn’t quite make it into the nunnery but she is CEO for Further Education in this country and she spoke about spirituality in the workplace. She goes to 10 Downing Street to encourage Government policy and make politicians aware of SMSC, the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural aspects that every school has to meet.
‘I wouldn’t necessarily want to bring religion into the workplace but spirituality is about caring, sharing, compassion, sympathy and empathy. It is what makes us a better and more rounded place to be. Spirituality gives students time to reflect, time to ask moral questions. We teach students that 2+2=4, that Paris is the capital of France but we need time too, to teach students to learn about themselves.
The vast majority of students do see the value in BPE. BPE is a very important part of what makes us human, we have a physical and emotional side and a physiological side, but I think we also have a spiritual side and I love the discussions that can be had because sometimes there are no answers. It is developing students’ thinking and explaining skills and understanding others without necessarily agreeing with them. In BPE we look at religions but we also look at philosophy, those big questions that can’t be answered. It is a brilliant subject and I love teaching it because it affects how we live and that impacts on other people. Our behaviour (which comes under the ethics part of BPE), and beliefs, make a difference.’