Tom Newlands

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Personal profile

Research interests

Tom is very committed to the importance of the place of Religious Education in the primary and secondary school, and how this can support a pupil’s development. His research interests focus on autonomy, collective worship, experiential Religious Education, pedagogies of Religious Education and spiritual development.

Supervisory Interests

Tom is interested in a range of topics within the field of primary and secondary education but has particular expertise in the following areas: Citizenship Education; Collective Worship; Faith Schools; Fundamental British Values; Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education; Religious Education; Relationships and Sex Education; Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development / Education.

Scholarly biography

Tom studied English and Religious Studies at Edge Hill College and graduated with a BA (Hons) and continued there to complete a secondary Postgraduate Certificate in Education, specialising in Religious Education. He completed his MEd at the University of Sheffield, with a research focus on the spiritual rights of the child. In February 2020, he gained his EdD at the University of Brighton in recognition of a programme of work entitled ’Pedagogical autonomy in the early career of secondary Religious Education teachers’.

Tom is a member of the Brighton and Hove Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education. As part of this, he has taken a consultative role on the following:

2016 Faith and Belief in Educational Settings – a Guide (BHCC) – he consulted on the construction and editing of this guide.

2018 Brighton and Hove Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education (BHCC) – he consulted on the secondary RE aspects.

Furthermore, he has worked with others on the following:

2016 Davies, A. & Norman, N. (2016) Getting into Secondary Teaching. London: Critical Publishing. – he co-wrote a chapter on ‘Why get into secondary teaching’

Approach to teaching

Prior to working at the University of Brighton, Tom had extensive experience in several secondary schools as a Head of Religious Education / Humanities, leading and teaching Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education, Relationships and Sex Education, Religious Education and Humanities, as well as leading on collective worship.

Tom’s current role at the University of Brighton is as a senior lecturer in Religious Education and involves being route leader of the secondary Religious Education Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) route and overall course leader for all secondary PGCE courses. He teaches on the following modules:

BA Primary

EP405 Introducing the Foundation Subjects

ER617 Developing Expertise in Citizenship Education and Religious Education

PGCE Secondary

ER781 Religious Studies Subject Study

ET686 Professional Practice 1(School-Based Training)

ET687 Professional practice 2 (School-Based Training)

EV771 Education and Professional Studies

He has undertaken a range of teaching roles at various levels, including course leadership, subject route leadership, curriculum design and development, admissions, dissertation supervision, assessment and feedback.

His teaching philosophy is greatly influenced by humanist and constructivist theory, leading to a student-centred approach and a strong commitment to inclusion.


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