In 2009 an STUC report into sectarianism in the workplace highlighted the need for further training and support for teachers to ensure they feel confident approaching the issue of sectarianism in professional life.
To this end we entered into discussions with the University of Strathclyde to offer lectures, training and Career Professional Devolvement (CPD) sessions to both undergraduates and those completing the intensive Postgraduate Education Courses. This runs alongside our ‘Champions for Change’ schools project which allows us to base the training within existing professional parameters and draw on the examples of good practice we encounter in schools taking part.
Through this partnership we have been able to offer lectures, CPD sessions and training to teaching students attending the University. We use this as opportunity to highlight for people at the formative stages of their professional life and development the challenges associated with sectarianism and equip them with the skills and strategies needed to identify and effectively challenge any such attitudes they might encounter. These initiatives have now become embedded as part of the course each year.
BA (Hons) Humanities and Social Sciences/BA (Hons) Primary Education Students must carry out 70 hours volunteering with a placement provider as part of their course between Oct – April 15, The University has agreed to accept Nil by Mouth as one such provider and we have been approached by several students wishing to undertake some or all of these hours assisting NBM. Engagement will give these students first-hand experience of teaching anti-sectarianism as a topic.
We have also seen a number of probationary and permanent teachers who were involved in the training subsequently contact NBM to request follow up work in schools through Champions for Change and other anti-sectarian projects across the country.
“Great session this morning with Nil by Mouth and PGDE. Perfect blend of humour and challenge to really get people thinking.“
Linda Brownlow, Course Director Strathclyde PGDE Course
“Lots of really useful ideas about tackling sectarianism with children – ideas for discussion and resources. I’ve previously dealt with sectarianism in a P6 class by entirely banning mention of Rangers & Celtic in the classroom. This workshop has given me ideas of how to tackle this more directly in future.”
“I liked how sectarianism was broken down, lots of information and anecdotes – very engaging lecture. I would be happy to teach/introduce Nil By Mouth in my classroom.”
“The serious nature was handled sensitively & also at relevant times, humorous. Inspired me to teach on this.”
“The entire presentation was very engaging and kept my interest for its entirety. It has definitely made me think about introducing sectarianism workshops while in school.”
“This has to be the best lecture we have had on this course, absolutely amazing. Engaging guy, he had the whole room gripped. BRILLIANT!!! I learnt so much about the nick names. Great, wish we had this at the start of the course.”
Strathclyde University Teaching Students, 25th May 2017
Teacher Case Study – Amy, Primary Teacher South Lanarkshire Council
Working with Nil by Mouth was a fantastic experience. I first worked with the charity during my time at Strathclyde University whilst I was studying Primary Education. I worked alongside NbM to first plan a CPD workshop for students which would both better inform them about the issue of sectarianism whilst also providing methods as to how we as future teachers could tackle sectarianism in the school and how to educate children about sectarianism; it’s history, how it looks in our society today and how we can eradicate it. The workshop was very highly thought of by the attendees and as a result, many more workshops were provided not only to my year group, but others too. I was so inspired by NbM’s vision and services that I carried out a presentation about sectarianism at a Strathclyde University ‘Teachmeet’ where many students, primary teachers, high school teachers, educationalists and Education Scotland representatives attended.
Last year, I was able to apply the learning I gained with NbM when working in a school situated in an area with many sectarian related issues. I worked alongside a neighbouring school, bringing together same-stage classes from both denominational and non-denominational schools for an outdoor learning day. The children gained so much from the experience. Despite both schools being metres apart and children from both schools generally living within the same estate, many had not played together previous to this learning day. After the event, many children from my own class reported that they were now playing with children from the other school after school hours. There are now plans to host similar united learning days with both schools. Had I not attended NbM’s workshops, I would not have been as confident in delivering this. Most likely, I would have felt nervous and uneasy tackling this controversial topic. Now, I would feel confident in exploring the issue of sectarianism with any class, in any school.