Our next conference: Salvation: A national lecture-series for students of GCSE Religious Studies with Dr Peter Vardy

Latest News and Info

MASTERCLASS: IMPROVE YOUR ESSAY-SKILLS FOR A LEVEL RELIGIOUS STUDIES

A Level Religious Studies is not easy! Not only are students expected to get to grips with a huge amount of detailed, challenging content in short order, but they are also expected to make academic judgments, advance and defend scholarly arguments in response to all aspects of that content. Even when they know and understand the material, many students struggle to write good essays, and this stands in the way of them achieving C+ grades. 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 online course, aimed at students moving from Year 12 into Year 13, answers these questions and aims to support students in improving their essay skills for A level Religious Studies.

Students can work through the course at their own pace. Each student receives their own login details, which provide access to the course from 1st June until the new academic year begins in September 2021. Each of the 10 video-units lasts around 20 minutes, but comes with a range of practical activities to complete. In total the course will take at least 4 hours to complete and concludes with a “theory-test”, the results of which can be certificated.

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To Book
For Summer 2021, Masterclass costs £10 per student, with a 20% discount available for block-bookings of 10 or more students made by a teacher.

NB: To obtain your discount code, please e-mail info@candleconferences.com

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.

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

STEPPING UP: AN ONLINE COURSE FOR STUDENTS BEGINNING A LEVEL RELIGIOUS STUDIES

With Charlotte Vardy

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Building on the success of “Masterclass”, our online essay-writing course for students of A Level Religious Studies, Candle Conferences will launch a unique an online transition-course for students preparing to start A Level Religious Studies in June 2021. Developed and presented by Charlotte Vardy, a highly experienced teacher of A Level Religious Studies, the course aims to introduce students to three “big questions” which underpin the whole A Level course and support students in developing the study skills they will need in a fun and challenging way. Units include…

  1. Introducing A Level Religious Studies
  2. What does it mean to say “God exists”?
  3. Is murder always wrong?
  4. What is Christianity?
  5. Study Skills
  6. Writing your first essay

The “stepping-up” course consists of six units, each comprising a series of short videos, each accompanied by a sequence of activities for students to complete. Students can work through the course at their own pace; each student will receive their own login details, which provide access to the videos through a secure page of our website from 1st June until the new academic year begins in September 2021, as well as a .pdf transition-pack to download and fill in. The filled-in transition-pack will demonstrate not only completion of the course, but comprehension and the level of effort students have put in to preparing for A Level… all useful information for teachers in September. The course ends with recommendations for further reading and suitable enrichment and extension activities. No prior-knowledge will be assumed, so the course will be accessible whether or not students have taken GCSE Religious Studies.

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To Book
Through Summer 2021, the stepping-up course costs £10 per student, with a 20% discount available for block-bookings of 10 or more students made by a teacher.

NB: To obtain your discount code, please e-mail info@candleconferences.com

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

Evil and Suffering (on demand)

Through the second half of the Autumn Term 2020 Candle Conferences offered a unique, national series of online lectures for students of A Level Religious Studies. Exploring content specified by ALL ENGLISH EXAMINATION BOARDS for the full A Level in Religious Studies, and aiming to develop higher-level AO2 essay skills, the lectures took students on a “deep dive” into the Problem of Evil and Suffering.

Through each of the first four lectures, presenters Dr Peter Vardy and Charlotte Vardy explored a different aspect of the problem in detail, before the final lecture took the form of a debate, to which students were encouraged to contribute their own, reasoned arguments.

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

A Grand Design? (4th November)   

Does the teleological argument succeed in using evidence of order and purpose to demonstrate the existence of God… or is the universe better characterised by disorder and dysteleological suffering, suggesting a limited God, an evil God… or no God at all? Reflecting on more than a century of horrors, not least the suffering occasioned by COVID 19, as well as on the majesty of creation, this introductory lecture encouraged students to make and defend an academic judgement.  

St. Augustine and the Problem of Free Will (11th November)  

The second lecture explored St Augustine’s multi-layered response to the Problem of Evil and Suffering, considering his argument that evil is only a lack of good and that God allowing it can be justified in terms of both the principle of plenitude and human free-will. The free-will defence was then evaluated in more detail, including as it has been presented by Alvin Plantinga. Reflecting on the significance of Armistice Day, 75 years on from the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima, students were encouraged to consider whether an omnipotent, all-good God would be justified in giving human beings such freedom… and whether if we have such freedom, God really can be omnipotent.  

The Logical Problem of Evil (18th November)  

The third lecture began by exploring JL Mackie’s article Evil and Omnipotence (1955), which sets out the logical problem of evil and then argues that there is no adequate solution to it. It then went on to evaluate John Hick’s attempt to provide a “Theodicy for Today” through his Evil and the God of Love (1966). 

The Evidential Problem of Evil (25th November)  

The fourth lecture considered William Rowe’s attempt to use evil to disprove the existence of God in The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism (1979). Is it really fair to say that there are instances of dysteleological suffering in the world? Must an omnipotent, wholly good God always prevent suffering when doing so would not result in a worse outcome? 

“This house believes that evil disproves the existence of God!” (2nd December)  

This motion was proposed and then opposed, before a range of student video-contributions was played.

To Book  

On-demand access to the “Evil and Suffering” lecture-series costs £8 per student, which includes 4 10 page .pdf booklets of resources for the use of the access-holder only and .mp4 recordings of the five lectures (approximately 3 hours of recorded content) to view through a secure page of our website.   

Alternatively, a school licence for the “Evil and Suffering” lecture-series can be purchased for £80, which includes permission to photocopy the resource-booklets for students within the access-holding school and the option to download lectures for use by the access-holding school in future years, on request.  

NB:  The passwords last until the end of the academic year, (1st August 2021).  Access to the series through the secure area of our website will end on that date, and any downloads associated with the school licence must have been completed by then.  

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

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.

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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)

Kierkegaard

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.

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“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:

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

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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.

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Feedback from teacher study days…

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“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 (on demand)

Our recent lecture-series for students of A Level Religious Studies with Dr Peter Vardy and Charlotte Vardy is now available on demand and is ideal for Year 12 students looking to revise, enrich and extend what they have learned in order to start Year 13 in the best possible position.

Exploring content specified by ALL ENGLISH EXAMINATION BOARDS for AS/A Level in Religious Studies, and aiming to develop higher-level AO2 essay skills, these lectures 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 explore different arguments and criticisms of those argument in detail, before the final session takes the form of a debate.  As always with Candle Conferences, the 45 minute lectures are pacy and engaging, designed to provoke deep thought and further discussion and debate. 

Each of the first four lectures is accompanied by an exclusive 10-page .pdf pack of student resources in a digital format, with a detailed overview of the argument including reference to a wide range of scholars and useful quotations,  as well as suggestions for extra reading and learning activities.  


The Lectures:

1) 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) 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) 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) 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) Debate: This house believes that there is no way to prove God’s existence.
The motion will be proposed and then opposed live, before student contributions are played.

To Book

Individual student links for the on-demand lecture series must be purchased online and cost £8 each, which includes the digital resources and access to .mp4 recordings of the lectures until 10th September 2021.

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

Copyright 2021 | Candle Conferences Ltd | All Rights Reserved

info@candleconferences.com / +(0)208 133 2241

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