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© 2011 Sue Phillips

Created by M.Stillman

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 files.




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 founder



 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 stage three.


 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 and Values

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.


· 3:15-4:30

·  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 this topic.


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 sense !


· 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 mostly space

· 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 RE.

·   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 UK.

· E mail me  - through the website and on njphillips@supanet.com





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.


See wwwtheatreoflearning.org




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 Simran


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 RE teacher.

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 sense


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 and Protestants


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 njphillips@supanet.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 or  students.


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.