Professional Development

A key element of the OARS project is professional development. This page provides information about:

  1. The principles and planning that guided the OARS Professional Development
  2. An account of the OARS Professional Development that took place
  3. Modes of collaboration that teachers used, with examples of practice and resources

Principles and Planning

These principles were embedded in a plan for six workshops over the course of 18-months. These workshops were designed to support teachers to use their expertise in a collaborative way with other teachers and the project team. Teachers explored argumentation within and between their subjects and sought to generate feasible ways of collaboarting for their context. The ultimate goal of the collaboration was to develop students’ argumentation within and between the subjects of science and RE.

Details of the project plan are presented below along with milestones for data collection. Further information about what happened in each workshop are detailed in the next section. 

In Practice: Workshops

The sessions that took place as part of the OARS project are listed below. Click on each workshop card to read a description of what took place during that session. 

These workshops followed the trajectory of the plan described above while also adapting to the requests of teachers about what they would like to have included in sessions.  Workshop 5 was scheduled for March 2020, as the COVID19 pandemic was taking hold in the UK and indeed across the globe. It was not until March 2021 that teachers were in a position to return to professional development. This final session used a pre-video to combine the needs of  Workhop 5 & 6.

Workshop 1

The first workshop focused on exploring similarities and differences between higher-order thinking skills/argumentation in science and RE. The workshop began …

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Workshop 2

Workshop 2 was designed to build on the initial scoping conducted Workshop 1. This first session had drawn out teachers …

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Workshop 3

The third workshop of the series was positioned at the end of the academic year and provided a key opportunity …

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Workshop 4

In this workshop, teachers shared some of the work that they have been undertaking their schools. This sharing of pedagogical …

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In Practice: In School

The OARS research team sought to keep in touch with teachers throughout the project to provide support and resources where possible. 

An online teacher portal was used to share resources generated by the project team, participating teachers, or other useful already published resources. 

 Click here to see an example teaching plan resource generated by the OARS Project Team: A Zoo at Blenheim Palace

School visits were used not only for data collection purposes, but also to offer opportunities for casual reflective discussion about collaboration or intergrating argumentation.

Modes of Collaboration

The participating teachers developed a range of ways of working together, depending on their specific contexts. Logistical and practical constraints of school life means that not all forms of collaboration will work for all pairs or groups of teachers. 

Their creative models of working together shows us that collaboration between RE and Science is possible in a vartiety of circumstances. We share some examples here to offer others some inspiration for their own collaborations. Teachers reported that it was essential for them to be able to have ownership over their collaboration, so it was purposeful and meaningful for them, and feasible in their working contexts. 

Here we have two examples of how teachers engaged in collaboration.

Left – teachers co-planned and co-taught a lesson on an issue with relevance to both science and RE contexts.

Right – Following conversations between the two subject teachers, the science teacher adjusted their materials to not only support argumentation but also explicitly link to arguments in RE. 

In this case, both subject teachers decided that they wanted to work on argumentation in their respective subjects alone first, but sharing a common framework. Later, they co-set and co-graded an assignment that had relevance to both subjects.

The framework they chose to work with was PEE (Point-Evidence-Explanation) because this would have utility for other subjects.

The teachers used their understanding of the Claim-Evidence-Warrant structure from the workshops to emphasise what students needed to address in the the PEE framework, where Claim ≈ Point, and Explanation ≈ Warrant.

Examples of Practice

Approach 1: Similar Structures in Separate Subject Lessons

In a Year 9 lesson on terminal velocity, the science teacher points to the importance of reasoned argument. Using the Point-Evidence-Explanation framework, she tells her pupils that facts need to be linked in order to achieve a high level of understanding.

In this Year 9 RS lesson, the teacher asks pupils to revisit their exam papers using the Point-Evidence-Explanation structure. She encourages her pupils to reflect on what makes a good religious studies essay.

The teacher asks a pupil to develop an argument, and while the pupil talks, she steps in to help him build an argument based on the Point-Evidence-Explanation structure.

Approach 2: Co-taught Lessons involving Science and RE

In the lesson co-taught by a science teacher and an RE teacher, the teacher instructs pupils to scan through two news articles to identify arguments in each article. Each of these articles included an argument for or against building a new zoo.

After discussing arguments for and against building a new zoo, the teacher asks to classify the arguments into scientific and moral. He also asks which type of arguments pupils find more persuasive.