Over several months the Revd Sarah Walsh, Rector of Dickleburgh, Mrs Pippa Delanie (RE lead and Assistant Head of Dickleburgh school) and the Director of Education and Conservation at the Otter Trust, Mr Ben Grief met several times to discuss and organise the programme for the day.
It was an activity that directly linked both RE and Foundation subjects’ curriculum. The main hope was to aid the children’s appreciation and understanding of different faiths with a special emphasis on how each faith cares for and preserves nature and how local churchyards can be amazing conservation spaces.
Representatives from the Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Bai’ah, and Christian Conversation Group ‘A Rocha’ were invited to come and talk to the children about their faith and the importance of preserving and caring for nature within it.
As part of the children’s Religious Education learning in the curriculum, pupils in Reception spent the morning exploring ideas linked with creation and finding out about what different faiths teach about how to ‘Care for God’s Wonderful World’.
Year 6 then came to join them for a lovely picnic lunch in the church grounds and spent the afternoon finding out about whether science and religion can be conflicting or complimentary. Their afternoon ended with them being asked to consider all the things they had heard and experienced and to vote on whether indeed they thought faith and nature can and should work together.
The Revd Sarah Walsh said:
“It was a wonderful day of learning and what was very evident was the theme of unity between faiths due to their commitment to caring for the environment together. Mr Grief also gave a talk to the older children about how science plays an important role within care of the environment.
The Reception children said ‘that they absolutely loved it!’ They were so inspired that they completed their butterflies and Noah’s boat pictures. The children of Year 6 too all enjoyed learning outside in the churchyard and said that ‘they enjoyed hearing stories from different religions’, ‘found it interesting learning about the links between religion and science’ and ‘they enjoyed the interactive activities especially liked having to guess and create the words with the Christian conservation charity and how they used Jenga to represent ‘eco systems’.
It was wonderful to build relationships between different faiths, the local church, and the school community. The hope that there will be future events like this to build on an understanding of different faith and how to preserve and care for nature.”
Moira Croskell, Executive Headteacher said: “This was such a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn first-hand from representatives of the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Ba’Hai faiths, as well as engaging with activities run by the Christian conservation charity A Rocha UK and enjoying a scything demonstration from a gentleman from the Quaker faith.”
Mr Grief also gave a short demonstration from a scientist’s point of view and provided activities within the churchyard for the pupils to investigate how valuable churchyards are for nature and conservation.
Mrs Pippa Delaine said: “We are very grateful to Revd Sarah Walsh and the Dickleburgh Church community for hosting this event and to Ben for inviting us to be part of such a valuable and unique experience. The visions for the day, shared by Ben and the school, were to enable the children to consider the question “Do all religions have the same underlying threads of respect for nature, the environment and life?”, and to come to their own opinions on whether faith and science could work together to a common goal by investigating the way many faiths share the common belief that faith teaches us to care for our world and science gives us the knowhow to do it. We would like to extend our huge thanks to the faith representatives who worked with us during this day and made it such a memorable and positive experience.”