RE Session 5 – Visits and Visitors

Religious Believers Visiting Schools (NATRE, 2007)

There are so many great reason why we should invite religious believers into schools. It provides spiritual and moral development, religious learning is stimulated, it makes religion come to life, it provides engaging teaching and make the children an active part of the learning, it brings an authentic voice to religion, encourages speaking and listening skills and is very informative developing children’s understanding.

However, there are many things that need to be considered when bringing a religious believer into a school, such as the purpose of the visit. It is imperative that the religious believer is not there to make children believe or to make them worship! They must only be there to impart knowledge, experience and personal beliefs whilst respecting that the children are entitled to be a non-believer or believe in something different.

The NATRE, provide a good question to ask the religious believers:

If a member of another religion visited my child’s school and contributed in the same way that I have done, would I, as a parent, be happy with the education given?

Religious believers can contribute in three ways:

  • Collective Worship – providing opportunities for spiritual and moral development. Children should be given the choice to be a participant in the prayer of to be an observer. No religion forces prayer upon anyone.
  • ย The Re Curriculum – providing information to develop the children’s understanding. They can also challenge the children to reflect upon their own commitments and beliefs.
  • Voluntary Groups – enabling believing children to share their faith in school as part of a group.

 

Benefits

Issues

Considerations

It supports community cohesion across the school The visitor wonโ€™t be trained teachers so they may not be able to control the class Meet the visitor first so that you can guide them on what you wish them to cover
The visitor will have specialist subject knowledge so will be very informative What they talk about could not be linked to the curriculum so have little relevance to the children Prepare the children before the visit comes, so that they are ready for it
The visitor is a genuine believer, so it brings faith alive for children Children may ask rude questions, or say something offensive Get the children to generate some questions before the visitor comes
It is fun and engaging for the children as it is someone different to their normal teacher Some parents may not wish their child to interact with a person of a different faith Set rules out with the children before the visitor arrives so that they are polite and respectful
The visitors knowledge may be too advanced for the children

It great to get people into schools. Offer them some refreshments, pay their travel expenses and most people will be happy to help. Ensure that you plan the session along side the visitor so that the children get the most out of the visit. It is pointless for a visitor to come in and talk to the children about something that they are not learning about.

There are many supportive websites and documents online, such as REonline and the archives scheme of work for visiting a place of worship

Below I have attached a document that is free for you to get online, but I’ve saved you the effort:

Using Places of Worship Cumbria County Council

Majority of the time, there is a suitable place of worship for you and your class to visit in your locality. I have created a plan for what could be done when visiting Exeter Cathedral with a class.

Before the visit –
Children need to look at key Christian celebrations, such as christenings, weddings, funerals and a normal Sunday service consisting of a holy communion.

During the Visit –
Initally, the class will be split into four groups:

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
Funeral Christening Sunday Service Building
Outside – look at the grave stones โ€“ find the oldest and youngest people.Inside โ€“ look at where the coffin is laid down. Look at the baptismal fontThen group allowed time to explore the cathedral personally Look at:Prayer matsLiturgy

 

Sketch the building

Throughout the day, the children will also have a visit sheet which encourages them to look for key features in the cathedral and take a photo of them which will be used back at school. Cathedral Visit Sheet

Then, the class will be brought back together to take part in some activities such as brass rubbing, dressing up, painting dragons and building junk cathedrals that will be ran by the cathedral education staff team.

After the visit –
As a class the children can reenact a funeral. The children can write the obituary, the order of service, a prayer if they wish, a poem etc.
This could be linked into Literacy, as the funeral could be of a character from a book that the class is reading.
This is a good way to tackle the idea of death with children. Many children may never have been to a funeral, and those that have would probably not have been concentrating on the individual parts of the service. This way children will learn what makes up a funeral service and allows those who have never been to one to experience it.

 

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