ISRSA Conference 2024

Divine Canvases and Heretical Narratives

Teaching Religion through Art, and An Exploration of Heresy

Our annual conference will be held on 11th March at the Oxford Mathematical Institute.

The event brings together RS and Philosophy teachers with stakeholders and colleagues from leading universities to debate the latest issues in our subject area.

Mathematical Institute
University of Oxford
Radcliffe Observatory Qtr.
Woodstock Road
Oxford OX2 5GG

11 March 2024

Paid Members £195
Non-members £275
PGCE Students £100



9.15–9.301Dr Andrew Pinsent: Welcome and Introduction
9.30–10.152Alister McGrath: Heresies Old and New
Throughout Christian history, the Roman Catholic Church asserted authority, emphasizing salvation through steadfast adherence to doctrines and practices dating back to Christ. Initially utilizing excommunication to combat heresy, the 12th and 13th centuries witnessed the establishment of the Inquisition to address perceived deviations. In the present era of increased tolerance, many Christians now embrace diverse perspectives without deeming them heretical. In a compelling discussion, Professor McGrath will explore the historical roots of heresy, drawing parallels with the treatment of those holding diferent viewpoints today. The discourse will extend to the phenomenon of cancel culture, examining how societal norms impact and potentially constrain freedom of speech in contemporary Britain
11:00-11:304Susanna Avery Quash: National Gallery Art and Religion
Join Susanna Avery Quash from the National Gallery in London for a captivating talk celebrating its 200th anniversary, where the rich collection of art intertwines seamlessly with the exploration of religion. Delve into the timeless masterpieces that have defined centuries of artistic expression and discover their profound relevance to RS teachers. The collection is a powerful resource for teachers to engage students in discussions about morality, theology, and the evolving perceptions of religion throughout art history. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the intricate relationship between art and religion, drawing connections between the past and present. This anniversary talk promises an enriching experience, inviting RS teachers to incorporate the gallery’s treasures into their educational repertoire, fostering meaningful dialogue on the enduring impact of art on spiritual contemplation.
11.50–13.155GCSE & A level Meet your Exam Board Subject Officer. Training for years 7-9
5a11.50–12.30 GCSE: OCR Richard Barrow; AQA Esther Zafiri; Eduqas Andrew Pearce; Pearson Susan Currey
12.30–13.10 A Level: OCR Richard Barrow; AQA Esther Zafiri; Eduqas Andrew Pearce; Pearson Susan Currey
5c11.50–12.30 Cecilia Bidle: Enriching Theology for Years 7–9 Enriching Theology for Prep Schools
12.30–13.10 Laura Miller: Nurturing Young Philosophers: Strategies fore Early Philosophical Inquiry
14.00–14.205Julie Arliss: ISRSA AGM. Update on ‘worldviews’.
All members are welcome to join the AGM followed by a briefing on the proposed changes to Religious Education. An outline of ISRSA’s concerns relating to the proposed shift towards ‘worldviews’ and in the light of Welsh data, the potential impact on our subject here in England.


14.20–15.057Professor Joshua Hordern: Theology at Oxford and Christian Ethics
In this talk Professor Hordern will provide us with valuable insight into the evolving landscape of Christian ethics, emphasising its wide ranging relevance across life and various academic disciplines. He will explore recent developments in Christian moral dialogue and the evolving role of Theology in addressing modern challenges. The session will not only explore recent trends but also show how integrating Christian Ethics into the curriculum is a practical strategy for fostering a holistic meaningful education.
15.05–15.15TEA BREAK
8aTeaching Philosophy A level. Philosophy pedagogy and how to deliver the tough stuf. Oliver Macadoo
8bWhat is RE all about? Fine-tuning the curriculum in years 7-9 for outstanding results. Andrew Capone
8cA broad look at AI and its impact in education. Practical examples of classroom use. Zak Verry

Speaker Profiles

Julie Arliss

Julie Arliss

Chair of ISRSA

Julie Arliss is the Chair of the ISRSA and MD of Academy Learning. She is known for the conferences she organises for schools, working in partnership with the Ian Ramsey centre, University of Oxford. She was awarded a Farmington Scholarship by Harris Manchester College, Oxford and has taught in both private and maintained schools, in the UK and abroad. She is currently based in the Theology Faculty, University of Oxford.

Dr Andrew Pinsent

Dr Andrew Pinsent

Research Director Ian Ramsey Centre. Patron of ISRSA.

Dr Pinsent is a former particle physicist at Oxford University, being a named author on thirty-one papers of the DELPHI experiment at CERN and a member of the United Kingdom Institute of Physics. Dr Pinsent left CERN to run his own consultancy business, was later ordained and, after completing a second doctorate in philosophy, became the Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, a Research Fellow of Harris-Manchester College and a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford. He is ‘interested in everything’ and visits schools to encourage the young to be ambitious and courageous in their thinking. He is committed to a broad view of education in which gifted students can maximise their full potential.
Professor Alister McGrath

Professor Alister McGrath

Professor Alister McGrath, holds three doctorates from the University of Oxford; a doctoral degree in molecular biophysics, A Doctor of Divinity degree in theology and a Doctor of Letters degree in intellectual history. 

He is best known for his work examining the relationship between science and religion, and, as a former atheist, his opposition to New Atheism and antireligion. Among his best known books are The Dawkins Delusion? Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life. He is the former principal of Wycliffe Hall and most recently held the Andreas Idreos Professorship of Science and Religion at Oxford. He is currently developing a series of accessible video presentations which are available free of charge on his website.

Dr Susanna Avery Quash

Dr Susanna Avery Quash

Senior Research Fellow in the History of Art. Dr Avery-Quash is responsible for researching the National Gallery’s painting collection and curates the 19th-century items in the History collection. She has a PhD from Cambridge and was elected Munby Fellow in Bibliography at the University of Cambridge in 1997. From 2002 was an affiliated Lecturer in the Cambridge University History of Art department.
Cecilia Bidie

Cecilia Bidie

Head of Theology Philosophy and Religion (TPR)

Cecilia Bidie is Head of Theology, Philosophy and Religion and Wetherby Prep School.  Her talk is about how to leverage tech in the TPR classroom to enhance and consolidate learning. She will discuss how best to implement it into lessons, give practical examples and explore different technologies. Delegates are warmly invited to bring their own ideas and experiences to the session for discussion.

Laura Miller

Laura Miller

Head of Divinity, Eton College

Laura Miller studied Philosophy at the University of Warwick and has been teaching for twelve years across various independent schools. She is currently Head of Divinity at Eton College where she has held the position for four years. She has a Masters in Educational Innovation and is currently reading an MA in Religion alongside her teaching practice. She is also an assistant examiner for A Level Religious Studies and the Philosophy setter for Common Entrance Religious Studies for ISEB.

Professor Joshua Hordern

Professor Joshua Hordern

Professor of Christian Ethics in the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford and a Governing Body Fellow of Harris Manchester College.

Professor Hordern read Classics at New College, Oxford before postgraduate study of Theology in Oxford and a doctorate in Edinburgh. After this he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge, Associate Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, Lecturer at Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity. Prof Hordern now supervises postgraduate students in the field of Christian Ethics and teaches undergraduate students on courses in Philosophy and Theology. He works in partnership with healthcare researchers, clinicians and institutions, exploring issues which concern the ethos of healthcare. Interfacing with such real-world practical problems, he leads the Oxford Healthcare Values Partnership, which has collaborated closely with cross-disciplinary academic colleagues. He is the Humanities Division academic lead for the Medical Humanities/Humanities and Healthcare programmes which develops research projects in areas such as vaccine hesitancy, medical education and ageing/ageism. He was a member of the Royal College of Physicians Committee for Ethical Issues in Medicine and co-authored the RCP’s report Advancing Medical Professionalism (2018). A fruit of this work is a new curriculum for undergraduate medical students at the University of Oxford.

Oliver McAdoo

Oliver McAdoo

Head of Philosophy Godalming School. Examiner & Trainer in Advanced Philosophy.

Oliver McAdoo is Principal Examiner for the Cambridge Pre-U and Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.  He is an author, speaker for Keynote Education, and a philosophy consultant for Cambridge University.  He is in the process of creating a new Philosophy A Level to be run alongside the current RS A Level and, should this prove successful, a GCSE in ‘pure’ philosophy – the first of its kind in Britain.

Andrew Capone

Andrew Capone

Head of RS St Simon Stock School.

Zak Verry

Zak Verry

Queen Elizabeth Hospital School Head of Digital Strategy and Innovation, and Head of Religion and Philosophy.


Bookings will be handled by our partner Academy Learning. You will be taken to the Academy Learning online shop for the booking.

Non-member conference ticket

Price: £275

Non-member conference ticket with ISRSA membership included

Price: £320

Any school with an ambitious RS department can join ISRSA.

ISRSA member discounted conference ticket

Price: £195

PGCE student conference ticket

Price: £100