Dr Peter Vardy is an extremely accomplished and renowned philosopher and the author of various books, including The Puzzle of Ethics and The Puzzle of God, which have helped A Level Religious Studies students to go beyond the syllabus and develop their understanding. The Year 13s studying RS were fortunate enough to spend a day at the Candle Conference in St Paul’s Hammersmith, hearing from the man himself.

The day started off with a session discussing what is actually meant by ‘God’. This challenging philosophical question was explored by considering the arguments put forward by various academics, as well as examining the different attributes of God, which seemed far more sophisticated and controversial as the lecture went on.

After a short break, Vardy moved onto the next topic which looked into religious and ethical language. It was a really interesting talk which focused on how meaningful religious language could actually be. Dr Vardy raised plenty of interesting points that we were then able to discuss in small groups. Having covered that aspect of the course recently, the lecture was a fantastic way to refresh our mind of the content, and expand on our existing understanding of the questions raised.

The morning also included an invaluable section in which students watched a video of Charlotte Vardy – Peter’s wife – explaining how to use the best technique when answering A Level exam questions. As the first year to be examined on the new specification, the opportunity to have the technique explained, with example paragraphs, from someone so high in the field was really useful.

The next talk was looking at religion, sex and gender and helped students with the diversity of topics on the A Level course. Exploring Biblical commentary and opinions from feminist thinkers, this part of the talk based on such a contemporary issue was particularly interesting.

To end the day, students from all the schools participated in a debate entitled: ‘This house believes that religion has no rightful place in the 22nd Century world’. It encapsulated all the topics covered in the day and meant that students could practise formulating arguments on the topics and have them analysed and challenged by their peers. Arjan Gill and Ishaq Usuma made their cases for Challoner's, with Ishaq pretending to be School Captain Oliver Hardman - a role model to us all.

Overall, the day was extremely useful as it gave us the opportunity to go over some familiar aspects of the course whilst looking at topics from a fresh perspective and come away with a booklet of notes provided by the conference.

I thought it was really good because it combined a recap of the A Level course with some new stuff we hadn't learned before, all of which will hopefully be applicable in our future lessons.

Josh Hartigan, Year 13

Thanks must go to Mr Wallington-Smith and the RS team for organising and accompanying us on the trip.