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I was given the opportunity to speak to two year 9 classes, one year 10 class and a year 12 class from Hereford Cathedral School, posing the question, ‘Why would anyone want to study Religion(s), Theology, Ethics and Philosophy at Degree Level?’.

When addressing the year 10 class and year 9 classes, whom were well into the study of their GCSE RE, I introduced myself and the number of interesting subjects that I have studied so far, during the BA Theology and Religious Studies Degree. This gave the students a broader insight into the vast amount of topics within the subject. I stressed to them that what they will study in GCSE is not the end of this broad, interesting and informative subject. After talking through each module, I had undertaken, I gave the group an outline of why I loved the subject, signifying an opportunity for them to see what the future can hold for the subject. I decided to give the pupils time to discuss with their classmates what they find cool about the subject, within their current study. The classes on the whole found it relatively easy to find positives, with the minority finding it more difficult.

I tried to remove key words, such as ‘religion’, when asking the class to think about ideas such as, ‘do you have an enquiring mind?’ and ‘do you want to know why people believe what they believe?’. This indeed helped the class to see that they had these skills and qualities, which would fit into anyone wanting to study the subject further. I wanted to make the subject seem relatable, knowing that GCSE can sometimes appear narrow and limited. I presented the idea that you do not necessarily need to be a teacher or to go into the ministry when undertaking this subject, but that you can follow dreams, such as being a singer or an actor, with a degree in Theology or related areas.

Thereafter, I gave the floor back to the classes, allowing for them to see what type of person they are when learning. This made it easier for the class to see that this subject might be something for them to consider, at least for an A-Level choice. I asked the class to think about each type of person that we encounter at the University of Chester TRS, spanning from the practical person to the cohesion-builder. Many understood that they fit into some of these, so I made it clear that even if you are just one of these, you may want to consider this subject more seriously. I could not stress enough to all classes that I saw, that meeting new people within the degree is exposing you to more types of belief, let alone being taught about them. People tolerance and skills were therefore main attributes that I had developed during my degree.

I put across the idea that ‘you may not feel that this subject is relatable’, but in fact it is! I showed the keen philosophers in the class that we can debate rights and wrongs, and showed the pupils within the class, searching for social justice, that these subjects are all covered in later study. I decided to reassure the class that do not stop if you feel you are not clever enough, and do not worry if you are the first in your family to study a degree! Many of the students in one year 9 class were going to be the first in their family to go to university, but that seemed not to phase them in the slightest.

I showed not only is the subject relatable, interesting and full of new content to explore, but it gives you unrivalled transferable skills for careers. The students were enthused by the opportunities on offer. I asked them what their own career aspirations were, and indicated to them how TRS at a higher level could give them those skills to undertake those jobs they were thinking about.

Talking to year 12 made for a more colloquial conversation between me and four sixth formers, one of which was sure they wanted to go into the ministry. It was a good opportunity to talk over UCAS applications, handing out some useful tips, and to indicate the possibilities of TRS at Chester. One pupil was unsure over selecting Philosophy or Law, so I took the opportunity to make that choice easier, with giving parts of the presentation that may have swayed the choice.

Being given the opportunity to speak to students about my passion for the subject was a real pleasure. To be able to express this, proved to be valuable experience for being a teacher in the future. It was encouraging to see such a positive reaction from students and staff, from being enlightened about the prospects of studying TRS at A-level, university and beyond.