Our next conference: Masterclass 2021: Improve your essay skills for A Level Religious Studies with Charlotte Vardy

Latest News and Info

Bespoke Events

Candle has been offering Bespoke Events since 2010. Since then, we have visited hundreds of schools across the UK and further afield in Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australasia. We have worked with many thousands of young people, their teachers, governors, parents & friends.

Schools love the quality and flexibility of our events, as well as our fixed prices. We don’t charge extra for VAT, travel and accommodation or booking fees and we don’t cap the numbers attending within one school. Every member of our team is a qualified, experienced teacher, so we really understand how schools work and what young people need.

For some recent examples, we have organised:

  • GCSE Religious Studies events for King Edward VI School, Southampton and Gordon’s School, Woking (Islam) and St Mary’s School, Ascot (Catholic Christianity)
  • A Level Christianity events for the Grammar School at Leeds, Notre Dame College and Haileybury School, Hertfordshire, Philosophy & Ethics Masterclass for Portsmouth Grammar School
  • Made to Measure events for Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Boys, Hertfordshire, Dulwich College, London, and Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow.
  • Gifted and Talented events for at Colfe’s School, City of London School for Girls and Portsmouth Grammar School.
  • Sixth Form events – for Skinner’s School “A Grand Design?” And “Ethics Matters” and for Ewell Castle School and New Hall School “Life and Death” as well as for Shebbear College and New Hall (Sixth Form RS).
  • Enrichment events for Year 10-11 students at Haslingden High School, Queen Mary’s High, Walsall, Alderley Edge School for Girls, King Edward’s School Birmingham and Simon Langton Girls Grammar School.
  • “Money Matters” events for Sixth Formers at Bacon’s College, SE London & Queen Mary’s High School, Walsall
  • An evening public-lecture for Bolton School, Greater Manchester

Why not email bespoke@candleconferences.com or call Moira Siara to talk about the possibilities on 0208 133 2241.



Religious Studies & Philosophy Events

We offer “bespoke” versions of our main GCSE and A Level Religious Studies events online or face-to-face where schools are more than an hour from regional centers. We also offer specialized events to support Religious Studies and Philosophy departments and whole-school Religious Education. We can design a “made -to-measure” event just for you, or you can choose one of our “pret a porter” options…

  • RE drop-down days (Year 10-13) – “The Grand Design” (Science & Religion), “Matters of Life & Death” (Medical Ethics), “What is Truth?” (Intro to Philosophy), “Living The Good Life” (Humanism & Ethics)
  • Catholic Christianity (GCSE RS) – Catholic Moral Philosophy, The Theology of the Body, Laudato Si, the Environment and Animals, Catholic Social Teaching, rights & poverty.
  • Islam (GCSE RS) – Islamic concept of God, Islam & Relationships, Islam & Medical Ethics, Islam & Conflict, Debate: This house believes that it is right for Muslim teenagers to fast during Ramadan!
  • Developments in Christian Thought (A Level RS) – Who was Jesus? Philosopher Focus: St. Augustine, Christianity & Sex, Debate: This house believes in life after death!
  • AQA A Level Philosophy – Introducing Epistemology: What is Truth? Philosopher Focus: Aristotle, Evaluating the Teleological Argument, Is stealing always wrong?
  • IB Theory of Knowledge – Theory of Knowledge, Critical Thinking, 2 options from Art, Maths, Faith and Language plus debate “this house believes that “of that which we cannot speak, we must be silent!”

From £499 online / £899 face to face (£1299 if other local schools are invited)

Bespoke CPD

Candle also offers a range of Bespoke CPD options for teachers, either online or face-to-face, to suit your needs.

As a guide, recently, we have organised:

  • coaching for a newly appointed Head Teacher in an Anglican School
  • governing body away-day considering the wider purpose of education
  • a twilight event for a local RE network
  • online mentoring for a newly appointed Head of Religious Studies
  • GCSE and A Level training for Religious Studies teachers across a multi-academy trust
  • a whole-staff INSET day on Christian ethos for a Diocese
  • an INSET day for a school focusing on Pastoral Care and Tutoring
  • consultancy support in developing policy documents, specifications, curricula.

Prices from £299, by negotiation

Gifted & Talented Events

We have long experience of running inspiring events for the most able students around the world. Our events challenge young people to think across and beyond the curriculum and help them to develop the skills in critical thinking, developing and presenting persuasive arguments that they will need to make the most of their potential.

We have a range of tried-and-tested “pret a porter” events, or you can go “made to measure” and create a one-off event to suit the interests and needs of your students.

  • Ignite (Gifted and Talented Y9-11 students) – Introduction to Critical Thinking, Ethics Matters, Genetic Modification, Debate: This house believes that what is right and wrong depends on our culture!
  • Education Matters (Gifted and Talented Y9-11 students) – What is Truth? Education Matters” It’s the Economy, stupid… Debate: This house believes that education should only aim to fit young people for the workplace!

From £499 online / £899 face to face (£1299 if other local schools are invited)

PSHCE Events

We can design a one-off event to suit your needs, or you can choose one of our tried and tested “pret a porter” options…

  • Sex Matters (Y10-13 students for SRE) Sex Matters, The Ethics of Contraception, Having it all! Pornography Matters
  • Money Matters (Y10-13 students for Finance & Enterprise Education) Money Matters, Boom, Bust and Crunch! Balancing the Books, Trade or Aid?
  • Sports Ethics (Y11-13 students of sport) What are Ethics? Virtue Ethics and Sport, Leadership, Debate: “This house believes that winning is all that matters in the end!”

From £499 online / £899 face to face (£1299 if other local schools are invited)


Our teacher-study day will go online this year but never fear, it will still feature the same high level of Philosophical content and discussion as ever… although you will have to bring your own donuts! Our events treat teachers as they wish to be treated – as intelligent adults, as professionals and as passionate about their subject. We run these events on Saturdays so as to minimize costs to schools but don’t worry, study days are really enjoyable and, as the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest. In fact, several schools have made our Saturday study days into departmental outings, giving colleagues a chance to spend quality time together as well as sharing learning and ideas.


“Kierkegaard” will be a rare and unmissable CPD opportunity for all those charged with delivering A Level Religious Studies. Wittgenstein described Kierkegaard as the greatest philosopher of the 19th Century… and a saint. His ideas have profoundly influenced many of the greatest religious thinkers. Through exploring the work of Kierkegaard, which has been the focus of Dr. Peter Vardy’s academic work for the last four decades, he will aim to improve subject knowledge and understanding relating to A Level Religious Studies, exploring how Kierkegaard’s philosophy relates to:


1) God
2) Faith and Reason
3) The Incarnation and Person of Jesus
4) Christian Ethics.


Previous events have attracted a good spread of teachers, from ITT trainees to A Level examiners and from NQTs to experienced non-specialists seeking to enhance their subject-knowledge in Religious Studies.



Feedback from teacher study days…


“I thoroughly enjoyed the teachers’ day on Wittgenstein – learned a lot and was great to be the student for once!” AB, 2020

“I loved the day. I have come back really inspired and can’t wait to pass it on in my classroom.” KS, Stratford

“I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the study day on Saturday. I came back to school buzzing with renewed enthusiasm for Augustine and some great ideas to share with my department. I found Charlotte Vardy’s tips on essay writing and feedback to be invaluable.” AC, Nottingham

“It was excellent: really interesting, enriching and challenging. It was also presented with passion & commitment, as if Augustine really matters (I think he does!)” PS, Yorkshire

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the highly interesting, informative and helpful day on Saturday. I thought your talks were excellent. I am so grateful to you for giving up your time to support us in the Philosophy ‘world’!” KK, Kent

“Such days are always very insightful and worth the journey!” WA, Birmingham

“Two highly able practitioners took free reign of the specification and … extended my understanding and engagement. Their knowledge is encyclopedic and their commitment and enthusiasm for the subject without parallel. I came away wanting to read more and to engage my students with the philosophy of this great thinker.” TT, Southampton

Arguing for God

A national lecture-series for Year 12 students of A Level Religious Studies
With Dr Peter Vardy and Charlotte Vardy

Building on the success of our Y13 online lecture series during the Autumn Term 2020, through the second half of the Spring Term 2021 Candle Conferences will offer a unique, national series of online lectures for Year 12 students of A Level Religious Studies.

Exploring content specified by ALL ENGLISH EXAMINATION BOARDS for AS/A Level in Religious Studies, and aiming to develop higher-level AO2 essay skills, the lectures will take students on a “deep dive” into the Arguments for the Existence of God. Through each of the first four lectures, presenters Dr Peter Vardy and Charlotte Vardy will explore different arguments and criticisms of those argument in detail, before the final session which will take the form of a debate, to which students will be encouraged to contribute their own, reasoned arguments.

As always with Candle Conferences, the 45 minute lectures will be pacy and engaging, designed to provoke deep thought and further discussion and debate. Each lecture will be accompanied by detailed student resources in a digital format, with an overview of the content, useful scholars and quotations, suggestions for extra reading and learning activities, to print off in advance of the session.

Sessions will include:

1) Wednesday 24th February: The Teleological Argument
The oldest and still the most persuasive argument for God’s existence begins with observations of purpose or teleology in the universe… but are these observations accurate and are they best explained by an intelligent designer, let alone “what everybody calls God”? This introductory lecture will begin by considering different types of argument, their relative strengths and weaknesses, and will go on to explain and evaluate teleological arguments proposed by Aquinas, Paley and Tennant with reference to Hume and Mill.

2) Wednesday 3rd March: Cosmological Arguments
Cosmological arguments start with observations of causation and conclude that a Prime Mover, Uncaused Cause or Necessary Being is the best explanation thereof… but is everything in the universe really moved, caused and contingent as Aquinas argues? Also, even if the Cosmological Argument can survive the advent of Quantum science, is it fair to say that the cause of the universe is “what everybody calls God”? This lecture will explore the arguments presented by Aquinas and William Lane Craig and evaluate them with reference to Hume, Kant and Russell.

3) Wednesday 10th March: The Argument from Religious Experience
Another popular argument for God’s existence starts with the observation that Religious Experiences are a common feature of human experience, reasoning that the best explanation of their occurrence is the existence of God as their object. Nevertheless, Religious Experiences are very diverse and many are subject to plausible naturalistic explanations. This lecture will consider which religious experiences have the best claim on being authentic (with particular reference to William James’ arguments) and how common these are, before evaluating the attempt to argue for God’s existence from Religious Experience, such as in the work of Richard Swinburne.

4) Wednesday 17th March: The Ontological Argument
Ontological Arguments take a different approach, starting with an a priori definition of God and reasoning that God’s existence is a logically necessary part of that definition. If successful the Ontological Argument has the potential to prove God’s existence in a way that no a posteriori argument could do… but many people struggle to see them as any more than “a charming joke” as Arthur Schopenhauer put it. This lecture will consider and evaluate the Ontological Arguments proposed by St Anselm and Rene Descartes with reference to criticisms made by Gaunilo, Aquinas, Kant and Russell, encouraging students to take arguments from reason more seriously.

5) Wednesday 24th March: Debate: This house believes that there is no way to prove God’s existence.
The motion will be proposed and then opposed live, before a range of student video-contributions are played and a final vote taken.



To Book

Logon links for the lecture series must be purchased online and cost £100, which includes digital resources and an .mp4 recording of the lectures.


Links may be used to broadcast the lectures live to an assembled group of students in school. Alternatively, if this is impossible and/or the students are working from home, an .mp4 recording of each event will be provided to the school after the live event has concluded. These recordings can later be used for revision or as part of teaching in future years.

Bookings come with:
FREE Candle Friends status for 12 months; Including access to resources & CPD as well as discounts on our other events.
FREE online teacher study day CPD place (worth £50)*

With Candle you get:
○ Up-to-date scholarly content made engaging and tailored to the real needs of A Level students.
○ Sessions and resources designed by practicing teachers with a record of engaging students of all abilities.
○ Easy, secure online bookings with no fees to pay; just print off e-tickets.

e-mail: info@candleconferences.com
Tel: 0208 133 2241

Masterclass 2021

Improve your essay skills for A Level Religious Studies with Charlotte Vardy


The jump from GCSE to A Level Religious Studies is enormous! Not only are students expected to get to grips with a huge amount of detailed, challenging content, but they are also expected to interpret an unfamiliar question and make an academic judgement… and then advance and defend a scholarly argument. Thinking back to Bloom’s old taxonomy of learning outcomes, A Level Religious Studies demands that students master the highest order of learning in relation to all areas of the specification even to pass the course. Unsurprisingly, many students (and many teachers when it comes to it) struggle to answer some of the essay-questions and are unsure of how to approach them.


Many students ask…

  • Is there a “right way” of writing an A Level essay?
  • What actually is an essay beyond being an extended piece of writing?
  • What is the most effective way to structure an essay in the exam?

This intensive online course will answer these questions and aims to support students in improving their essay skills for A level Religious Studies.


Building on the success of the “Helping Students to Write Better essays in RS” CPD event in June 2020, Charlotte Vardy, a highly experienced teacher, textbook-author and A Level RS blogger who has worked for examination boards both as a teacher-trainer and specification reviewer will help students to understand what an essay is, what a good essay needs to do and looks like, how to structure an Examination essay and how to make essays more effective.


Each student will be provided with an individual log-in, enabling them to participate in quizzes and other interactive activities, and an extensive pack of resources to print off and fill in. Students can do the whole course LIVE at one sitting on Wednesday 10th February… or watch on-demand later, maybe breaking it down into four one-hour units.


Dr Peter Vardy’s event for students of GCSE Religious Studies, disrupted by lockdown earlier in 2020, has transformed into an online lecture series for Spring 2021…

The event covers topics specified by ALL EXAMINATION BOARDS for GCSE Religious Studies as part of the Christianity: Beliefs and Teachings and the most popular Thematic Studies modules and aims to extend and enrich your Year 10-11 students’ knowledge & understanding and support the development of strong skills in analysis and evaluation.

Sessions include:

  1. The Nature of God (14th April)
    This introductory lecture will consider the reasons that Christians have for believing in God. After providing a brief overview of rational arguments for the existence of God – causation and design – and sources of revelation – religious experiences and scripture – we will consider what each approach suggests about the nature of God, reflecting on the difficulty of describing God in words or pictures and opening up how believers use metaphors and symbols as well as the doctrine of the Trinity.
  2. Sin and Salvation (21st April)
    In the second lecture, we will move on to consider key Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ, as Messiah and as Son of God. Jesus’ place in the story of the Bible will be explained, along with the concepts of Covenant, Sin, Sacrifice and Atonement, and Christian beliefs about Salvation, who will be saved, how and why, will be explored.
  3. Life after Death (28th April)
    In the third lecture we will move on to consider diverse Christian beliefs about life after death, as well as the sources and reasons for these. Christian beliefs will be compared and contrasted with Jewish and Muslim beliefs and the impact of believing in judgement and an afterlife on religious observance and/or moral decision-making will be explored.
  4. The Sanctity of Life: Abortion & Euthanasia (5th May)
    In the final lecture, we will turn to the application of Christian beliefs to two of the most controversial issues in medical ethics, abortion and euthanasia. The central question of personhood will be considered, along with beliefs about the sanctity of life, dignity and agape, Christian love, and how they influence and shape diverse Christian attitudes and teachings.


The series will end with the launch of a national mini-essay competition, with a submissions deadline of 1st June 2021.

  • The winner will receive a cheque for £200 and their school will receive either a goody-bag of books and teaching resources from Candle Conferences or a free half-day Bespoke Event, once the COVID 19 restrictions are lifted.
  • Runner-up prizes may also be awarded, at the discretion of the judges.
  • The best submissions will be published as part of a digital journal that will be provided to all those who participated in the lecture-series for the Autumn Term 2021.

The lecture series also comes with a detailed pack of digital resources to print off for your students.

● These feature summaries of the topic-content as well as learning activities, advice on structuring the AO2 12/15 mark questions, revision tips and much more: The idea is that they will fill in parts of the resources during the lectures, then refer back to them later, whether as part of lessons or revision.



To Book

Logon links for the SALVATION GCSE lecture series must be purchased online and cost £100, for unlimited numbers of students and including digital resources and an .mp4 recording of the lectures, both of which can be used year after year within the booking school.

Links may be used to broadcast the lectures live to an assembled group of students in school. Alternatively, if this is impossible and/or the students are working from home, an .mp4 recording of each event will be provided to the school after the live event has concluded. These recordings can later be used for revision or as part of teaching in future years.


With Candle you get:
Up-to-date content made engaging and tailored to the real needs of GCSE students.
○ Sessions and resources designed by practicing teachers with a record of engaging students of all abilities.
○ Easy, secure online bookings with no fees to pay; just print off e-tickets.
○ A real teacher to speak to on the telephone or e-mail and social media support on twitter @PuzzleVardy & facebook @CandleConfs

e-mail: info@candleconferences.com
Tel: 0208 133 2241



Feedback from our events…

We soon begin mock exams and the revision notes will be invaluable in raising their grades-many thanks for these too. I am looking forward to my lessons this week and hearing student feedback –I am sure you have set the scene for some heated debate and discussion!  Many thanks once again –good luck with the rest of the events, see you in Manchester for the AS/A2 Philosophy  and Ethics days in November/March.

Organising teacher Carlisle

A huge thank you to Dr Peter Vardy for another inspirational GCSE RS conference today. Also thanks to the visiting schools your students were a credit. Watch out for confirmation of next year’s date!


“We also go to the GCSE ones with our more able kids and they find them really useful and challenging. So much relevant modern content!”

Facebook Comment

“I, like others on here, have attended Peter’s conferences for longer than I care to dwell on and more recently those run by Peter and Charlotte. I am ALWAYS highly impressed and think their ability to push & challenge students’ thinking is impressive and entirely appropriate. I have learnt so much from Peter & Charlotte over the years and attending their conferences is always a treat for me and my students although I would agree it’s the brightest students who gain most from the lectures – as I would expect.”

Facebook Comment

“Our sincere thanks to Peter for the wonderful conference with Year 11s last Thursday. It was a massive success and the girls were enthralled and greatly inspired by him. He’s made our recruitment for A Level RS a whole lot easier!” 

Waqar Ahmedi
King’s Norton High School

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