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What's Happening
Greenbelt 2020
Dear God...
“The ocean is like God and raindrops are the religion. When they fall into the ocean they become one.”
Zoya Ahmed and Nurun Uddin

Pan-Berkshire SACRE Hub
Real People, Real Faith
(SACRE: Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education)

Last Updated: September 2020

The Pan-Berkshire SACRE hub was established when the six unitary authorities and SACRES were established. Co-operating initially on syllabus production, the hub has since engaged on a range of projects and conferences, for SACRE members and teachers.

An initial project, Crossing the Bridges (2015) created a range of documents to enable teachers to make trips to places of worship more educationally meaningful. Teachers were offered two opportunities to visit a wide range of places to trial the new materials.

The current project seeks to combine the experience of visiting a place of worship with questions from the 2018 Pan-Berkshire revised syllabus. Six venues across Berkshire have been identified and the first filming session has taken place at a local synagogue.

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Teachers from local schools spent the afternoon at the synagogue, where they interviewed four members of the community, using a range of questions from the syllabus, covering three key stages. Each question was asked to two different members of the community, so that different answers to the same question were shared. The interviews were filmed by a former RE teacher, turned professional film-maker and twelve short films have been produced. When the project is completed, there will be seventy-two two to three minute films.

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The intention is to ask similar questions at each of the venues, (a mosque, a gurdwara, a mandir and two different churches) so that the diversity within and between different faiths becomes visible. These films can then be used in class to anchor the syllabus questions in reality and allow for an exploration of diversity. Clearly some of the questions will be more appropriate to some faiths than others, but that in itself will be a learning point.
 
These are the questions that will be asked:

KS1: What symbols are important to you? What stories are important to you?

KS2: How special is your relationship with God? How does this affect the way you live your life?

KS3: In what ways do science, belief and religion interact and what difference might this make? Why might it matter that sacred texts are often open to interpretation?


Getting teachers into the places of worship is providing them with CPD, helping them to make contacts with faith members and breaking down the barriers between people. The films including members of the community will hopefully encourage the teachers to arrange visits themselves.

All the venues chosen are already in the Crossing the Bridges faith directory, so teachers will already have access to all the details, and using the syllabus questions to drive the interviews will demonstrate good learning in RE.

When all the filming is complete there will be some resource writing sessions with teachers form the visits invited to come and compile teaching notes and resources for the classroom based on the interviews.

 
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Sept 2020 Update: 

Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, four of the planned films in the series are in the final editing stages and will be ready for release to schools in September.

The four venues visited are a Reform Synagogue in Maidenhead, where Rabbi Jonathan Romain was joined by some members of the community to answer the questions:

“What symbols are important to you?” and “What stories are important to you?” for key stage 1;

“How special is your relationship with God?” and “How does this affect the way you live your life?” for key stage 2;

“In what ways do science, belief and religion interact and what difference might this make?” and “Why might it matter that sacred texts are often open to interpretation?” for key stage 3.

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Some of the answers were quite surprising, so SACRE hub has decided that a film needs to be made in an Orthodox synagogue as well, to demonstrate the diversity of Jewish thought.

The same questions were also asked in the Hindu Mandir in Reading, where a large group of members showed how diverse Hindu thought and practice is. It was great to hear so many different voices, with unity in their diversity. The passion and articulacy of the answers will help pupils to understand this complex set of beliefs.

The Shi’a Mosque, also in Reading, provided thought provoking and well-articulated responses to those same questions, and the hub has taken the decision to make a film in a Sunni mosque as well as soon as it becomes possible to do so.

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The final film to be made before the closure of all places of worship was in an Anglican Church in Warfield, on the outskirts of Bracknell. Again a range of members of the community were asked the same questions, and again the answered demonstrated unity in diversity. Some interesting personal stories and views were shared, making this an invaluable resource for teachers wanting pupils to experience the lived reality of faith in Berkshire today.

Over the summer period, members of the hub and local SACREs are producing the first set of notes to accompany the films, but the full lesson notes and plans will have to wait for social distancing measures to be fully lifted.

True Tube has agreed to host the films and the notes providing they are satisfied with the quality of the resource, which we have every reason to believe they will.
 



For more information please email Anne Andrews.