Religious Education on sacred ground

Date Posted: 11/10/2014

School: Shere CE Aided Infant School, Guildford, Surrey   
KS: 1
Case Study: Guildford Cathedral

Decorating a biscuit, making a card and saying a prayer for others who might be suffering are all part of ongoing annual workshops at Guildford Cathedral.

The relationship built up between Shere CE Aided Infant School and the cathedral also led to a pioneering visit involving the whole school.

Ingrid Bailey, Year 2 teacher and the school’s subject co-ordinator for English, including Drama, said: “We take our Year 2 class every year just before Easter to participate in the Easter workshops offered by the cathedral’s education department.

“The children always enjoy the activities offered and come away with a deeper understanding of the relevance of the events and the meaning of the Easter story.”

The workshops include Palm Sunday and Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem, the story and symbolism of the last supper, with interactive involvement, the Hosanna! music and drama workshop where pupils play percussion instruments, decorating a biscuit, making a card, saying a prayer and examining the question what is Easter?

The striking, modern cathedral, which is the seat of the Bishop of Guildford, has an interesting history as it is the only Anglican cathedral built on a new site in the south of England since the reformation.

The foundation stone was laid in 1936, but the work was interrupted by World War Two and it was not consecrated until 1961.

A wide range of workshops

The education department provides a wide range of workshops for all Key Stages and can suggest itineraries for half or full-day visits or provide teachers with an activity box to take with them on self-guided visits.

Last year the entire school visited the cathedral to study the theme of advent. The aim was to understand the relevance of advent and the story of the nativity and to learn why people prepare for Christmas, and the significance of presents.

A total of 84 pupils took part, and the day was run as a carousel of activities with each class undertaking workshops separately.

“We contacted the education department to see if they might tweak the advent workshops that were already on offer to include our reception class,” said Ingrid.

“They readily agreed to this and ran a series of workshops for us as a trial, with a view to offering them to other reception classes in other schools.”

The workshops covered the topic areas of music, the story of the nativity, drama and craft.

The sessions variously involved pupils learning a song and dressing up as Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels and kings, using models and props to tell the story of the nativity, showing the emotions of various characters in the nativity and making an advent wreath plate.

Ingrid concluded: “Without exception all of our children were excited to take part in the workshops. Year 1 and 2 children relished the music and drama elements and loved dressing up and using props and instruments. The reception class really enjoyed singing and making the plate.

“The staff and volunteers running the workshops are always welcoming and obviously enjoy what they do. Beth and Fiona, who front the education department, are always willing to consider new ideas, and we have already approached them with a request for a whole school visit based on workshops to address the ascension and Pentecost for next summer term.”

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