This week, students in a Year 7 RE lesson were virtually joined by five Christian ‘voices’ in their classroom as part of their RE Unit of Work: A Church for All Christians. The virtual visit included a diversity of Cumbrian voices from the denominations of Orthodox, Methodist, Anglican, Quaker and Free Church. A rich selection of ‘you-questions’ were asked by the students including: What are the most important design features for you in a place of worship? How do you see/experience God? What do you think about when you pray? Do you think there are any stereotypes about your religion that are not true?
Students in Year 8 were joined later in the week by three Muslim ‘voices’ as part of their RE Unit of Work: What challenges do Muslims face when following the Five Pillars of Islam in modern Britain? Again, students met a rich diversity of Muslim voices living and working in Cumbria with personal experiences to share about Shi’a, Sunni and Sufi groups within Islam. ‘You-questions’ asked by the students included: What does being a Muslim mean to you? How many of the 5 Pillars of Islam do you follow, and which is the hardest to follow? Is there anything you think Muslims do is wrong? There was even a question asking favourite football teams and their views on the hosting of the Football World Cup 2022 in the Muslim-majority country of Qatar. The class were fascinated by the diversity between the different Muslim voices, and how their religious belief was just one part of their lives and worldviews.
Both virtual visits were organised by WHS teacher Jane Yates who is leading on a county-wide project called Virtual Voices in Religious Education(VVRE). This is a collaborative project between Cumbria SACRE and Cumbria Development Education Centre and is funded nationally by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust. The project aims to improve the provision for high-quality visitors for schools in Cumbria through a worldviews approach to RE. Both sessions were recorded and will be edited into a digital resource which will be shared with all students across Year 7 and 8 as part of RE lessons this term, and will be available for other Cumbrian schools to use.