Workshops and Inset for teachers, universities and schools.
I am available to deliver whole days or part days on Experiential RE, PSHE, Citizenship
and Values Education where trainees, teachers and or pupils can experience for
themselves the value of lessons taught in this style.
The programme for my introductory day which I do with trainee teachers at a number
of universities each year appears below.
I also work with primary or secondary teachers in RE or other areas demonstrating
how to use these techniques across the curriculum to boost engagement, understanding,
empathy, critical thinking and to help pupils form positive attitudes towards
themselves and others. The multi sensory experiential approach has also been found
helpful to teachers in special schools.
I conduct experiential days or part days with secondary pupils on a variety of
themes - Wealth and Poverty, Race and Tolerance and Human Rights.
I run courses regularly in Bognor Regis for local teachers and trainees on each
religious tradition and various Citizenship themes. These are often presented to
groups of teachers around the UK who may ask for a course or workshop on, for
example, Islam and Islamophobia , Christianity , Science , Religion and Philosophical
issues or teaching Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism using experiential learning
. A sample of the local courses follows the sample introductory programme
All courses and workshops are supported by a handbook outlining the techniques
and with sample lesson recipes from the published Theatre of Learning Resource
Sample programmes follow
A Day in the Theatre of Learning: Presentation for PGCE Students at the University
of Brighton 1st February 2011
Session One : 9:30 – 10:45 An Introduction to the Theatre of Learning.
What does it look like? what happens in it ? How does it feel to be taught like
this ? and how does it improve learning? How does it develop spirituality and an
empathetic understanding of others?
· Entering the Theatre of Learning: If you were a child beginning a lesson like this
, how would it feel? - using music , soft lighting and a multisensory set.
· Photographic tour of the Theatre of Learning and introduction to the five techniques
– how they engage pupils, improve behaviour, memory and understanding : 15 minutes
· Religion neutral exercises and participatory symbols – How they develop memory,
understanding but also empathy and personal spirituality.
· Examples from the world’s religions: Eucharist, Prayer, Ganesha, Nam Simran, Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur :15 minutes
· Experiential activity : A religion neutral activity on Prayer :15 minutes
· Applying the five techniques to teach a whole tradition : Photographic examples
of using a number of religion neutral exercises to teach Islam, develop an empathetic
understanding of Islamic spirituality and combat Islamophobia :15 minutes
· Questions and discussion : 15 minutes.
Session Two: 11:15-12:30 Combining Experiential Learning with Literacy to improve
the learning outcome (part one) for 30 minutes and role playing “ The Island
“ for 45 minutes
11:15-12:45 Combining Experiential learning with literacy : The Learning model for
Theatre of Learning - see, do, experience, talk, write –
Using experiential and active teaching methods to improve literacy and academic outcomes.
The group will be taught about Jewish prayer using the learning model – did it work?
Can you answer the GCSE essay I have given you? : Using traffic lights for true
false starters and plenaries. Specific guidance on writing will be given after lunch
( 30 minutes)
11:45- 12:30 The Island
“The Island “ - a fantasy story developed with a class and told over a term forms
a basis from which to understand the fundamental ingredients of religion
With brief reference to A ) “The Castle in the Clouds” - This story set on
The Island five thousand years after the first one is an allegory of the earth
and its problems and provides a basis from which to understand Christianity or any
B) “Return to the Island” – set on the Island just ten years after its founding.
The new community face a number of problems which enable pupils to study moral issues
using their imaginations ( 45 minutes)
Lunch 12:30- 1:30
Session Three: I:30-2:45 writing strategies (part two) and an introduction to
some techniques for using the imagination to teach PSE and values across the curriculum
Using ” caterpillars” to structure essays, plan in exams and improve exam performance
at key stage four . Using a simplified level structure to improve writing at key
Example one : Key Stage Four Exam questions
· Knowledge questions eg Explain /Describe/ Give an account of
· Evaluation questions eg ” it is silly to dress up for prayer “ “ God doesn’t
make himself known anymore”
· Understanding questions eg “ What is the importance of? “. Using TESE to get the
full eight marks : 15 minutes
Example Two: Using a simplified level structure with caterpillars to improve
speaking and writing at Key stage three
· Combining the English levels with the RE levels to improve writing
· Using GCSE examiners response levels to improve response to questions in class
· Using traffic lights to improve thinking and discussion at KS3.
· Look up philosophy for children website for exercises to use for picture enquiries
and to develop a community of enquiry. 15 minutes
Some techniques for using the imagination to teach Citizenship, PSE, Moral Issues
2:15 – 2:45
Techniques to teach Citizenship across the curriculum
· Confidential feelings visualisations
· Anonymous thought sharing circles
· Ways to make statistics have an impact.
· Practical examples : little red car, Cindy’s night out, A mind movie, litter
, What’s in the bag?
· Paulo’s story - traffic lights discussions
Session Four 3:15- 4:30 some practical examples to take part in, using stories
visualisation and role play.
· Practical examples - using stories, visualisation and role play
· The Escape – immigration and tolerance (15 Minutes)
· The Experiment (15 minutes)
· Going into role Sarita and Alan – poverty it’s all their fault (30minutes)
· Plenary: Go over the five techniques, does everyone get it ? Questions and
discussion ( 15 minutes)
· Written evaluation and depart
A Five minute session on Creating a Concrete Platform to teach Philosophical
and Abstract concepts – distribution of reading material and lesson summaries of
Experiential learning uses the emotions to enable pupils to understand and empathise
with the religious traditions and people whose lives may be very different from their
own . It develops morality by enabling pupils to ask what if it were me ?
In this session creating a concrete platform to help pupils understand abstract
and philosophical concepts uses the intellect . Reason and rationality need to be
applied in order for pupils to take religion seriously on an intellectual level
and to be challenged by it .
The Eastern religions teach “All things are one “. “Reality is an illusion” . “Nothing
is created or destroyed “. This is exactly what science teaches too! Take the children
into the quantum world Before you approach Indian spirituality and it will all make
· How do we know what is real? – teaching Descartes using multi sensory and active
learning – more of life is about belief than we first suspected!
· What is the nature of matter and consciousness? - The case of the disappearing
table – helping the children to see that everything in the universe is actually
· The Big Bang - Everything goes on for ever - even the universe !
· Can the mind separate from the brain ? – is an afterlife possible?
· Appendix: Description of Theatre of learning resources available.
· Website: theatreoflearning.org - for ” freestuff “ on PSE citizenship and
values becoming a PSE facilitator has games and exercise to help you build circles
and teach listening skills. Material to help you with assignments on experiential
· New face book support group : Sue Phillips Theatre of Learning . Experiential
RE . provides a discussion forum and source of ideas and support for RE teachers
together with details of local of courses and other presentations throughout the
· E mail me - through the website and on firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample programme for local courses follows
Theatre of Learning:Experiential RE
Saturday Courses in Bognor Regis. Autumn Term 2011
Islam: Sikhism: Christianity:
“We are using Theatre of Learning at our college for the first time this year…..
three of my colleagues have also been working on this and are reporting exciting
levels of engagement from the kids. Our Head of Department is one of those piloting
the course and he is impressed at the connections the students are making”
Gaynor Grant . Brisbane. Australia . Posted April 2011 on the Facebook Theatre of
Learning support group.
The Theatre of Learning - multi sensory, experiential RE making RE make sense.
Engaging and enthusing pupils while developing spirituality, improving behaviour
and promoting academic achievement.
This pioneering and innovative teaching method has been developed by Sue Phillips
in her school in Southern England in response to disaffected pupils who said that
RE was ” nothing to do with them or anything that they knew”. They were so bored
that over half of them refused to sit the final examination.
Twelve years on, the five techniques of the Theatre of Learning, which can be applied
to any RE course, for any age range, have gained Sue an international reputation.
She has written for the “Times Educational Supplement”, “RE Today”, “The Shap Journal
of Religious Education” and the “International Journal of Children’s Spirituality”.
She contributed to the” International Handbook of Religious, Spiritual and Moral
Dimensions in Education” in 2007. She has written six teacher resource files published
by Sfe/Tribal on each world religion and most recently “Teaching Tolerance” with
her husband, Neil. She was given the Shap Award for making an outstanding contribution
to the teaching of World Religions in December 2004
Sue’s presentations to County Advisers and Inspectors, Lecturers in Religious Education,
government advisers and teachers all over the country are transforming RE for teachers
and their pupils. Sue regularly presents to trainees at a number of universities
and offers continued support through her facebook group. She was invited to tour
Australia presenting to teachers from the Catholic and Lutheran Church schools in
all seven states in August 2006 when she also presented in Wellington New Zealand
at the national RE conference. Sue also writes and presents on PSHE and Citizenship.
She retired from full time teaching in 2010.
Saturday 24th September: Teaching Islam with the Theatre of Learning. 10am – 3pm
This course developed and first presented at Manchester Metropolitan University in
2005 with Imam Irfan Chisti shows you how to use religion neutral exercises alongside
traditional teaching methods to bring out the spirituality of Islam and combat Islamophobia
10:15 -10:45 Introduction:. Special issues in teaching Islam.
10:45- 11:15 Prayer: A religion neutral exercise to introduce Islam .
11:15- 12:00 An active, experiential approach to teaching about the Mosque
12:00 – 12:15 The Qur’an
Lunch 12:30- 1:00 pm
1:00-1:30 The Message
1:30- 2:00 An active experiential approach to Hajj .
2:00 – 300 Dealing with Islamophobia.
£20 for teachers. £10 for students and NQTs.
Tea, coffee and soft drinks provided please bring own lunch.
handbook with a selection of lesson recipes included
“I had no trouble with Islamophobia after I attended Sue’s course last year and used
her methods – delegate to SFE’s national RE conference 2007
“I will use your prayer lesson to teach the boys in the Mosque” - Moslem RE teacher
at the Norwich LEA conference 2007
“ Your ideas will help me to teach my own sons about prayer. They do not see the
point of the rituals . This will help it make sense to them “ Moslem delegate to
conference on using Theatre of learning to teach AT2. Leeds July 2011
Saturday 5th November:Teaching Sikhism with the Theatre of Learning. 10am-3pm
Traditionally Sikhism is taught in a factual way with emphasis on knowledge about
the Gurus, the Gurdwara and the 5k’s .This course uses experiential and active techniques
exactly as the children learn, to show you how to teach the knowledge, understanding
and evaluation needed for examination success by emphasising the spirituality of
Sikhism. It is set within the context of ideal community, equality, Sewa (service)
and Nam Simran ( contemplation of the name). Superb for cross curricular
study and links with Citizenship
10:15-10:45 Introduction – Sikh spirituality.
10:45-11:15 Creating a Gurdwara in the classroom
11:15-12:00 Building an Ideal Community
12:00-12:30 Re enacting the Rites of Passage initiation and weddings
Lunch 12:30 – 1:00
1:00-2:00 Sikh spirituality. Teachings from the scriptures. Meditation. Nam
2:00-3:00 Sewa – the Sikh concept of service.A religion neutral approach
£20 for teachers £10 for students and NQt’s
Tea, coffee and soft drinks provided. Please bring own lunch.
Handbook with a selection of lesson recipes included
Learn in an informal, relaxed and supportive atmosphere with plenty of time for
discussion and questions.
· Feedback from the June 2011 course on Indian spirituality
“Thank you , Sue, for a truly inspirational day. I took so much away from the day
and importantly it is transferable to the classroom. My head is buzzing with ideas.”
PGCE Student University of Winchester .
“The course today was brilliant as usual. Looking forward to Islam already!” Hampshire
Saturday 26th November: An Experiential and Active Approach to the Teaching of Christianity
and Philosophical issues with the Theatre of Learning. 10 am - 3pm
Teaching Christianity presents us with specific challenges . The material is so
abstract and theological that often young people cannot relate to it . This course
shows you, through enabling you to take part in lessons exactly as the pupils do,
how to use multi sensory and experiential approaches to make Christianity make sense
and promote personal spirituality in pupils and teachers.
10:15-10:45 Introduction: A framework for teaching Christianity to make it make
10:45-11:15 -Using special circles to bring concepts alive and relate them to the
pupils’ own experience
11:15-12:30 “ The Evil Planet” and “Building the Kingdom” an active and experiential
approach to teaching the Sermon on the mount.
12- 1: 30 pm Lunch
1:30-200: Understanding Church Leaders
an active way to help young people understand the different views of Catholics
2:00-2:30: Teaching Spontaneous and Liturgical worship
Three activities which enable pupils to experience in a religion neutral way three
contrasting styles of worship.
2:30-3pm : Religious experience and miracles. Pupils are able to discuss the verification
of religious experience after a moving religion neutral exercise which enables
them to empathise with pilgrims to Lourdes
Prices and refreshments as for other courses. Bring own lunch.
To Reserve a place
E mail email@example.com
As the courses are in my own home places are limited so please book early.
Please remember to bring a packed lunch. Hot and cold drinks are provided .
Payment on the day, please £20 teachers .£10 students and NQTs
Please make cheques payable to Sue Phillips.
Please note that using the five techniques of Theatre of Learning can be done with
the minimum of props and does not require any acting skills on the part of teacher
See www theatreoflearning.org for more details and downloadable lesson plans on
PSHE and citizenship
See RE online for a 15 minute video clip of Theatre of learning in action.
Join the facebook support group. Sue Phillips. Theatre of learning. Experiential
RE. for more resources and discussion among teachers putting it into practice.
Please contact me at any time for help or advice . I am always very happy to hear
from students and teachers.