TT429: Rules of Serious Engagement

Two major recent initiatives in the subject, Understanding Christianity, a teaching and learning approach developed by the Church of England, and The Commission on RE (CoRE), which reported its findings on September 12th, 2018, are shaping current thinking about RE. Both call for a renewed focus on depth of understanding and academic rigour, in short, ‘serious engagement’, as Understanding Christianity puts it, with the subject matter. In recent years, rigorous and academically stretching RE has often been associated with the critical realist approach, which treats RE as a quest for ‘ultimate truth’, competing claimants in a debate in the ultimate […]


Within our culture, three waves crash together upon our young people: a premature media self-awareness, peer-measurement, and self-promotion, external and internal higher expectations of themselves, and a huge need for healthy mental health to have the resilience to thrive, not just survive. These young people need those they can trust, whether it be a parent, a leader, a peer who has the confidence to help them, and the faith in them to transform lives to journey beyond culture’s dictates, towards self-efficacy. VIVA GO! is a powerful tool to raise a young person’s life chances through listening, relationship and supported encouragement.  […]

PS096: A Passport to Pilgrimage: Sacred Places, Shrines and Schools . . .

John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford, defined pilgrimage as “a spiritual journey to a sacred site”, but pointed out that, if we remain within our local environment or even our home, it is “possible to gain the same insights and wisdom as those who journey great distances.”  Pritchard reminds us that, if we have a pilgrim spirit, “These journeys will bring us back to where we started but we may no longer be the same people. With open eyes and hearts, we may have discovered God where he has always been – right in the midst of the everyday.” For […]

TT419: An Embroidery: Peace

Schools can be full of noise, activity and demands with little time set aside for peace and quiet. SEN pupils, especially those with literacy, numeracy, working memory and processing weaknesses, can often feel bombarded by noise. In addition, for many, the ‘noise inside their heads’ is frenetic as they try to keep up, try to absorb and make sense of the information coming their way. Noise can be negative if their thoughts are always on catch up. For autistic pupils with social and communication difficulties, constant noise including instructions and discussions can be overwhelming. This project looked at the concept […]

PS095: How do the Christian Values of Leaders co-exist alongside characteristics of Complexity Theory?

The study aimed to examine how Christian Values and characteristics of Complexity Theory exist concurrently within Faith schools.  It intended to make recommendations about whether characteristics of Complexity Theory can be exploited to support Faith School Leadership.  Four focus groups, all within the Primary sector, examined the Christian Values of Faith-school Leaders and how these impacted on Leadership and other stakeholders.  Characteristics of Complexity Theory were used within the data analysis and correlations identified.  The conclusions of the study raise the idea that Leaders should have opportunities to consider their own spiritual response to the Values associated with Christianity and how this […]

PS093: Analogous Philosophy & Theology

This Farmington Institute paper outlines the nature and importance of analogy in philosophy and theology as seen in the writings of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Ludwig Wittgenstein. This will be done with reference to a number of perennial philosophical problems, namely the problems of the “one and the many”, “identity and difference” and the “unity of the sciences”. In doing so, it will attempt to illustrate why the aforementioned thinkers provide a more successful and prudent framework for answering these problems, academically and experientially, than those of popular alternatives. The latter being, to use two well-known contemporary approaches, positivism and […]

PS092: Thinking Well

George Orwell said:  ‘In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act’. So how do you find the truth in a post-truth world?  What is a fact? What makes a sound argument? Aristotle is commonly and justly regarded as the founder of logic, which is the study of the principles of correct reasoning.  Logic is the methodology of philosophy and can be applied to any subject area at all, because logic is topic neutral. When we are told something that is shocking, unbelievable or unpleasant we naturally ask, ‘Why do you think that?’ or ‘How do […]

PS091: Behold, We Are Doing a New Thing!

This is the story of one school’s transition from a state comprehensive to a Church of England Academy.  This report is a personal reflection on this process of transformation.  It is an honest tale of my fears and doubts as well as the opportunities presented to embrace a vision of life in all its fullness. It may be helpful to the reader to see this report as an improvised play. With this in mind, I have chosen to present this report in two ‘acts’. Act one scene one will give some context for this tale of transition, the opportunities it […]

PS090: 1,2,3 … Aaaaaaah!

My school, Phoenix, is an all age (3-19) Special school for children with children with severe and profound learning difficulties.  Many of our youngsters have additional needs such as complex medical conditions, multi-sensory impairments, challenging behaviour or Autistic spectrum disorder.  We are looking to develop our SMSC provision and to ensure that it is relevant to our changing community.  Sacred singing is something that I have offered from time to time – as a lunchtime club, as part of festivals and celebrations and as a stand-along session.  Initially it was part of the first ‘quiet assembly’ that I developed for […]

PS088: Growing Together? How might creative RE projects help a school and its local intergenerational community ‘Grow, Together’?

This project set out to explore what potential might be unlocked within any intergenerational community to support work in RE and SMSC development. The aim has been to extend previous research for The Farmington Institute: ‘The Doughnut and the Hole’ (1997), to intergenerational community contexts, and explore how intergenerational connections might enrich the quality and depth of learning for all those involved. Whilst exploring key issues related to the terms ‘Spiritual Development’, ‘Intergenerational Communities’ and ‘Creative RE’, practical resources have been created for schools and communities to explore and develop in their own context.