EPR – A Week in Review

EPR and Psychology Centenary Celebration Week: A healthy mind in a healthy body 

This week saw the EPR and Psychology departments host their centenary celebration week to honour our school motto ‘Mens sana incorpore sano’: a healthy mind in a healthy body. The week has been filled with amazing activities and visiting speakers to mark the significant ways in which both EPR and Psychology explore the importance of having a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Ethics, Philosophy and Religion

The week’s celebrations began during assembly on Monday, when the whole school came together to hear about how brilliantly the school lives up to its motto by providing all with an holistic education that enables the whole self: mind and body, to grow and thrive. It was highlighted how EPR plays a crucial role in this education by giving students the opportunity to develop healthy minds through a focus on the 21st Century Essential Skills of curiosity, critical and reflective thinking, confidence, emotional intelligence and discussing-all of which are instilled in all students in every EPR lesson.

Assembly also included the official introduction of EPR Faith Ambassadors who are a vibrant and diverse team of enthusiastic students, from Prep and Seniors, whose role is to raise awareness about, and celebrate, the different beliefs that exist within the school community. They have been planning and preparing for this week’s events over the past half term and had made a video to share their own beliefs about healthy bodies and minds.

November is also the month for the national celebration of Inter faith Week and the EPR Department organised visiting speakers, representing a range of different beliefs, to engage with students in their EPR lessons. A group of Youth Workers from St Luke’s Church in Blackburn ran a fun and interactive session with Year 7 in the LRC, playing games to explore the concept of faith. They spoke about their own faith and how their belief helps them through difficult times, enabling them to strive for peace and hope, and how it also gives them confidence too. This faith is vital for them having a healthy mind.

Charlotte in Year 7 said she really enjoyed the session from the Youth Workers and the message she took away from it was: ‘Love life and live it!’.

We welcomed a representative from the Lancashire Humanists group, Keith Pennington, who gave a presentation to Year 11 and Year 10 students on Wednesday. He spoke about his Inter faith work, his personal journey to Humanism, his convictions about caring for others and how the belief in one life (and making the most of it), brings him happiness and purpose.

Gen Paljin, a Buddhist monk, from Kadampa Burnley Meditation Centre visited on Thursday and spoke to EPR GCSE students. He shared his insights about the causes of dissatisfaction with life and that the cure to these ills, is to remove the concern of others’ judgements and to focus on achieving inner peace and happiness, by leaving the distractions that cause pain behind. He explained that his body is linked to his cultivation of a healthy mind because his shaved head is symbol of the fact that his inner self has removed any anxiety about how others may perceive him. What really matters is: being kind to others and being kind to ourselves.

Prep Faith Ambassadors held their own Q&A session with their peers at Prep during a lunchtime session with Mrs Hearle and myself. With keen curiosity, pupils asked each other about how they celebrate their beliefs and how faith affects their daily lives. We learnt a lot about fasting and Eid, Hindu feasting at Diwali and Christian festivals. Pupils said they ‘’loved it’’ and asked when a similar session will run again. Faith Ambassadors will be acting on this feedback and planning for future sessions in the coming months.

Throughout the week interactive displays in the LRC and Prep entrance hall have enabled students to have some personal reflection on the complexity and wonder of our mental and physical selves. Contributing ideas and reading others’ points has enabled us to share with each other, a wonderful and diverse range of insights. These fill a colourful display and some students’ thoughts are shared on the photos included. Philosophy Club on Wednesday in the LRC also focussed on a mind-body discussion between Year 11 students, when they challenged themselves, and each other, by asking probing philosophical questions.

A Bollywood dancing session was planned to be the culmination of the week’s celebrations when Year 8, 9 and Prep 6 students were going to come together in the theatre and explore Diwali through dance and dress. Unfortunately, due to illness, the dance teacher was unable to come and lead the sessions. This will now take place on a future date that we’re looking forward to!

A special thank you to Miss Jones in the EPR Department who has made invaluable contributions to making the week a success.

Mrs R Oracz 

Head of Social Sciences and Humanities Faculty 

Mens Sana Incorpore Sano Centenary Celebration Week: Psychology 

It’s been a busy week in Psychology, with our focus being on a healthy mind. The week started with students reflecting on the very interesting and informative talk by Mrs Clayden. Mrs Clayden was talking about mental illnesses and therapy, with particular focus on ‘talking therapy’ as this is what she practises. She linked this to the Psychodynamic Approach as this is what the therapy is based on. Finally, she discussed the benefits and weaknesses of talking therapy. The year 12 and 13 Psychology students attended and there were several links to what they have learnt or are going to learn in future lessons.

The INSPIRED SIXTH FORM Psychology students performed 2 short plays in assembly to demonstrate what we have been learning in class. The first play was to illustrate hostile attribution bias. We have recently learnt about this in Forensic Psychology. It involves faulty thinking, where we misinterpret the actions of others, assuming others are being confrontational when they are not. This can lead to crime and violence. The second play exemplified minimalization, which we have also learnt about in forensic Psychology. It involves a different type of faulty thinking, where you downplay the seriousness of the crime. As we have learnt, crime can be caused by faulty thinking, also known as cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions can also lead to mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and depression. Therefore, it is important that these are treated to prevent crime and maintain a healthy mind.

Both Year 12 and 13 students have entered a competition, which involved them stating which is the most unethical Psychological Study. Ethics in research is very important, because if participants are not treated sensitively, with respect and dignity this can lead to psychological harm. Some students used studies we have covered in class; others researched some very ingenious studies – the entries were fascinating.

In this week’s enrichment, year 12 and 13 students watched a documentary on the serial killer, Andrew Cunanan and discussed what factors, including his irrational thinking that may have influenced his killing spree, culminating in the murder of fashion designer, Gianni Versace. We also considered whether he was born this way, or whether it was down to his environment and upbringing, and whether anything could have been done to change his thinking.

Finally, visiting speaker, Miss Davenport, Cognitive Behavioural therapist came to speak to Year 12 and 13 students about unhelpful thinking styles and how she uses therapy to reverse these. This talk also gave us insight into real life cases, which were fascinating. Going forward, we will be reflecting on what both visiting speakers taught us, comparing them, and using them to support learning in Psychology.

Mrs R Howarth-Hynes 

Teacher of Psychology 

GCSE EPR Education Conference hosted by Blackburn Cathedral.  – 16th Nov 2023

Christian Ethics in the Modern World.

On Thursday the 16th of November, 40 Year 11 EPR GCSE students joined local secondary schools via zoom to take part in the annual GCSE Conference hosted by Blackburn Cathedral.  The theme this year was Christian Ethics in the Modern World.  The keynote speaker was Dr Michael Leydon who was joined by Professor Kelly Brown Douglas, who is visiting Blackburn Diocese from the USA.  Professor Kelly is an eminent theologian who has many years of experience studying and writing on cultural issues in theological thought.  She spoke passionately about the issue of identity and Christian teachings used in combating racism.  She referred to the teaching of ‘agape’ – Christian unconditional love, as the vaccine or the antidote to racism.

The second session was delivered on how the theology of the incarnation and resurrection links to Christian practices, both in the celebration of festivals and everyday living.  These are popular topics on the GCSE paper, therefore provided valuable revision for the students.

Rev Kat Gregory-Witham, associate priest from St Matthew in Burnley spoke honestly and openly about some aspect of her identity including being Christian, female and gay.  She explored the interpretation of scripture within the modern world and how faith influences the social justice work she is involved with in Burnley.

Westholme students engaged thoughtfully and respectfully with all the speakers.  They asked brilliant questions to enhance their academic knowledge and understanding in preparation for their GCSE exams.  Moreover, on a personal level the students developed a better understanding of a lived experience of faith in the modern world.