Sycamore for Schools

There are many ways to use Sycamore in your school. It can become part of your school curriculum for Religious Studies, Ethics or General RE. You can use Sycamore as part of the Continuing Professional Development for your staff as a way of learning about the Catholic faith. And you can also run more informal enquiry or faith sharing courses for teachers, other staff, parents and pupils.

Sycamore was developed with schools in mind. One of our core advisers is an experienced RE teacher and Head of 6th Form at a Catholic school. The beauty of Sycamore is that each session can be run “out of the box” with minimal preparation. Each session gives an accessible and inspiring presentation of one aspect of the Catholic Christian faith, together with discussion questions for the class to use together in small groups.

If you are still getting to know Sycamore take a look at the Why Start a Group page here. Even though they won’t all be relevant for you in schools, you can look at the planning pages and the training pages. There are some suggestions about possible school courses here.

School lessons vary in length. A full Sycamore session can just be squeezed into a 40 minute lesson. Each film lasts about 25 minutes with 15 minutes for discussion (3 short discussions of 5 minutes each). But it would be much more fruitful if it could be spread over a longer period of 50 minutes or 1 hour; or a double period of 80 minutes.

Sycamore works best with those aged 14 and over. We recommend Sycamore for Key Stage 4 in the UK (ages 14-16) and  above all Key Stage 5 (ages 16-18). It may be appropriate for some Year 9 classes (ages 13-14) but not below.

Student leadership. It is best to follow the normal Sycamore pattern of splitting into small groups for the discussion periods of each session. If you do not have any trained leaders then you can try to run the discussion for the whole class together, or split into very small buzz-groups of 3 or 4 people that are small enough to work without guidance or leadership. But the ideal is to train members of each class to become Sycamore leaders, e.g. in a class of 30 to have 5 student leaders. This becomes a great incentive to raise up leaders in the school, to give them training and equip them with transferrable skills. You can develop your own programme of Sycamore training and accredit that in a way that makes it attractive for students to join. See the main training pages here and decide which are appropriate for your school context.

Sycamore can be used in these school contexts: