Who are the Young Ambassadors for RE in 2016?
We are delighted to announce that the following school teams will continue as Young Ambassadors for RE in 2016. Further teams will be added during the course of the year; application details are available here.
- Archbishop Sentamu Academy, Kingston upon Hull
- Broughton High School, Preston
- Perins School, Hampshire
- The Redhill Academy, Nottingham
- St Mary's C of E Middle School, Belford
- The Venerable Bede CE Academy, Sunderland
- Ysgol Aberconwy, North Wales
- Queen Katherine School Kendal, Cumbria
- Amery Hill School, Alton, Hampshire
- Tring School, Hertfordshire
The teams’ submissions included a range of essays, images and video clips, and there were some powerful themes including the uniqueness of each person, the connections between beliefs and actions, stereotyping in the media, and the possibility that - whether we are religious or not - we might just make a better world if we try to understand each other. Inspiring stuff!
Their applications were inspiring, thoughtful, relevant and well informed. Their MPs should be very proud of them!
Young Ambassadors from the Archbishop Sentamu Academy emphasised the importance of learning about all sorts of world views for their personal and spiritual development:
We go to a C of E academy, so mainly learn about Christian beliefs - but we learn about other faiths too... It is really important to learn about other people's beliefs because it's good to understand and relate to what others believe, but it's also good to get different information from people and find out how they would answer some of life's big questions. Religion can provide answers (and sometimes more questions!) for important questions that people have. By learning about what different options there are for thinking about the world, people can make up their mind what they believe while at the same time respecting the faiths of other people.
The Broughton team are keen to ask the big questions:
'One thing we have learnt in RE is that human existence is complicated; life is often difficult and challenging. However, learning about and from one another’s different beliefs and values is a great support system for life... If we have any hope of understanding our world we must try to understand the religious communities and belief systems that it is built on. In our RE lessons we not only learn about the beliefs and values of the world’s religions, we also ask questions about how this affects us and our lives: How can we decide what is true? Can life ever be perfect? Is religion a source of conflict or force for peace? Is human life special?'
Young Ambassadors from Haslingden High School felt that RE is very different but also connected to other subjects in their school:
In other subjects in school, you are given answers that are fixed and cannot be questioned. In RE we look at different opinions from people with different beliefs and thoughts - including atheists, religious people, fundamentalists, feminists, sociologists etc. When we are taught the facts or ideas that these people have had, we are allowed to question them and don't have to accept any one conclusion. This makes us question the answers which makes us think non-stop.
This all leads towards our own conclusion about why we need to learn about religion and beliefs: RE is a chain of ideas. It links to different ideas and different subjects. It develops us as people, it shows us parts of ourselves that we never may have known before. Also it opens our minds to the world around us.
If you can handle the high octane sound track, then the Perins School entry makes some clear arguments for RE and society, and RE and the individual:
'RE is important for our society in Britain which is becoming ever more diverse...if we don’t learn about other cultures and beliefs there is always the possibility that we’ll become prejudiced towards other people, or have stereotypes about their cultures and what they really believe in... It's also a really good way of looking at your beliefs yourself and formulating what you think...'
The Redhill team's video is filled with projects they have taken up - visiting primary schools and running a lunch time philosophy club - and they don’t just want to just churn out the stereotypical answers...
The team from St Bede’s Inter-church School have made a polished and professional looking video that is an inspiration! Congratulations to this team for their creativity and hard work.
The St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School team make a personal analysis of the nature of belief:
'What is belief? To us belief is the core of who we are. Most people define beliefs as inward convictions, a feeling of certainty about what something means. Our beliefs dictate how we act towards other people, the things that we say and do have an impact on everyone around us and it is important to appreciate and understand that everyone has different views and opinions.'
The St Mary's Middle School team make good points about how the differences between people are important to recognise and respect:
We can’t just learn about Christianity because not everyone is a Christian. All our friends have different beliefs, and so many wars break out because we don’t understand one another. All we have to do is respect and understand one another and peace will come.
'We need to respect ourselves'
says one of the team from The Venerable Bede CE Academy: Their online noticeboard show us that RE is not just about respecting others, but respecting others can help us respect who we are.
Students from Ysgol Aberconwy recognise the link between different religious and non-religious worldviews, and society more broadly:
Religious Education teaches you that different religions can share similar values... Everyone single human has values and beliefs and it is important to understand these and allow people express their beliefs freely. By learning about each other's beliefs and values, and our actions and attitudes towards, for example, foods, dress code and social etiquette, we can increase our knowledge understanding, and prevent disagreements which lead to conflict within society.
Students from Queen Katherine School have put together this wonderful 'padlet' of ideas where they discuss why it is important to learn about other people's beliefs and values.
[Religious Education] is important because many people have different ways of living their lives to us and we need to be able to respect that. When we learn about others' beliefs and values, we become more understanding, less discriminatory and kinder people.
Students from Amery Hill school worked tirelessly up to the summer holidays to produce this thoughtful video on why it is important to learn about the beliefs and values of others.