Case studies

The Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast

The Panpsycast is a podcast that supports teachers, students and academics. The podcast also aims to awaken fellow freethinkers worldwide and inspire a new generation of philosophers and theologians.

The show primarily covers high school, A Level and undergraduate topics in religious studies and philosophy. The goal of each episode is to make exciting, challenging topics and research accessible to students, teachers, academics and the general public. The podcast aims to be accessible in every way; available internationally, free of charge, with an emphasis on making content understandable and enjoyable to non-specialists.

The Panpsycast has over 75,000 subscribers and is regularly ranked amongst the top podcasts on iTunes’ Higher Education chart, making it one of the largest Religious Studies providers in the UK. A number of distinguished guests have appeared on the podcast, including Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, A. C. Grayling, Daniel Dennett, Steven Pinker, Skye Cleary, and Peter Singer.

The podcast is supported by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust and Westhill Endowment, as well as through the show’s patrons.

The Panpsycast is available on all major platforms, including iTunesSpotifyTuneIn, and Google Play. Click here to view episodes by theme, or see a list of the show’s previous guests.

 

Commission on RE

Culham St Gabriel’s is delighted to be a key supporter of the Commission on RE https://www.commissiononre.org.uk/final-report-religion-and-worldviews-the-way-forward-a-national-plan-for-re/ whose work we helped to fund in 2016-18. The Commission on RE was created in 2016 by the RE Council with a remit to review the legal, educational and policy frameworks for RE. Chaired by the Very Revd Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster and a former Chief Education Officer of the Church of England, the fourteen commissioners have worked for two years to generate proposals based on research and reflection.

Titled ‘Religion and Worldviews: the way forward, a national plan for RE’, the report addresses RE in England with evidence, reasoned interpretation and proposals of historic significance. Its three defining principles are particularly welcomed:

  • A new vision for the subject, reflecting changes in patterns of belief in England since 1944, and made concrete in the new name – Religion & Worldviews.
  • An entitlement to high quality teaching and learning in all schools, underpinned by a statutory national entitlement statement. Within that, schools would have flexibility to meet the entitlement in their own ways, guided by their ethos and trust deed.
  • A significant investment in two supports: training for teachers to implement the new vision, and a reformed structure at local authority level.

Trustees see the report as a vitally important and urgent call to change, and we wish to work with partners to make the change happen.

National and regional infrastructure

CSTG is also very pleased to be a supporter of the national and regional structure of ambassadors for RE, coordinated by the National Association of Teachers of RE (www.natre.org.uk). Like many, we have been concerned that the increasing weakness of local authority structures has created a vacuum of support for too many teachers of RE. By supporting this dynamic intervention we intend to ensure that high-quality continuing professional development reaches every primary and secondary RE person in England. The measures include:

  • The appointment of one national RE networks ambassador and ten regional RE network ambassadors, working closely with existing NATRE, LTLRE and other networks, and creating new ones
  • Financial support for one regional day conference per region per year
  • Training opportunities for leaders of groups and networks
  • ‘Primary 1000’, a new initiative to reach primary schools that have not yet benefitted from national RE opportunities
  • Specialist communications and data expertise

We are also very pleased that the project will include a conference and support for primary RE initial teacher education, reflecting the Commission on RE recommendation on a minimum of 12 hours’ RE training for primary trainees.

RE Quality Mark

Culham St Gabriel’s has contributed to the funding of the RE Quality Mark (http://www.reqm.org), which has been developed to celebrate and spread high quality religious education. It is an accreditation system designed for whole school RE improvement through the assessment of five key strands: learners and learning, teachers and teaching, curriculum, subject leadership and professional development. It is available to all schools. We feel the RQM provides a vital framework for capturing and celebrating good practice while also highlighting areas for improvement. Working nationally, the project has had significant impact on RE, improving practice and raising the profile of the subject in schools across the country.

The RE-searchers

We are extremely pleased to have been able to fund the RE-searchers project. This resource, produced by Giles Freathy, Rob Freathy, Jonathan Doney, Karen Walshe and Geoff Teece, presents a new approach to RE in primary schools. Through the use of cartoon characters to make it accessible to young children, the RE-searchers approach encourages pupils to think about the significance and effectiveness of different methodologies and methods of enquiry in RE. This is an exciting and significant development with wide ranging implications for the way teachers approach RE at primary level and think about assessment.

RE and Counter Radicalisation

With discourses on British values, the Prevent agenda and radicalisation in schools dominating both the political agenda and the media at the moment, there are significant implications for RE and the role the subject should play in the debate. We are, therefore, delighted to be supporting research into RE and counter radicalisation and are currently funding Masters work on British Values and the RE curriculum, a doctorate focused on anti-extremist policy and Muslim student identity, and a doctorate looking at SMSC and Prevent. We feel these projects have the potential for having significant impact on the shape of the anti-radicalisation debate and RE at a national policy level.

Understanding Christianity

We are delighted to see the launch of the Understanding Christianity materials at www.understandingchristianity.org.uk . Understanding Christianity is a substantial resource aimed at supporting RE teachers’ work in teaching about Christianity. We supported the project with a significant grant because of our commitment to excellence in RE, in the context to teaching and learning about religious and non-religious world views. We are very pleased to be hosting the materials on RE:Online. Warm congratulations to the RE Today writing team who produced and trialled this tremendous resource. We see the Understanding Christianity materials as a crucial means to raising standards in RE through an new approach based on engagement with theological concepts. We recognise the difference these materials and the training can make to teaching and learning in RE as a whole. We welcome the training events and would encourage all RE colleagues, in church and community schools alike, to consider what can be learnt from them.

Pilgrimage into Adult Life

The aim of this two-year project was to prepare young people for the transition from school into adult life. Th project was innovative in bringing together embodied and intellectual forms of engagement and encouraging the development of skills involved in moral decision making and spiritual enquiry. It invested time in the depth and quality of character of participants, beginning with where students already were and taking them on a journey, exploring their relationship to the transcendent and the divine by addressing questions about the nature of human flourishing in contemporary society.

The main output of this project was a film which is now available to view here: http://www.clairehendersondavis.com/lament The film premiere was held as part of a day conference in June 2019. The Executive Headteacher of a Sixth Form College involved with the programme spoke about the visionary nature of the project. She spoke of how experiences for students enabled reflection, challenge, exploration of relationships, current affairs, vocation, hopes, dreams and fears to be explored in a safe and supportive environment.