How I…value trips in the curriculum – Clare Hawkins

When thinking about how to revitalise the curriculum, there was one thing that came to mind, trips! In my NQT year, I became a KS3 lead for RS in a large community school in Reading. I shook up the curriculum and found a Year 7 and Year 8 trip to fit in with the schemes of work. Over the years we have been to St Paul’s cathedral, Neasden Temple, Wat Buddhapadipa, Westminster Abbey, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.

As our KS4 team went to the local mosque, I wanted to take students out of their comfort zones. Some of them had never been to London, let alone to a place of worship. As teachers, we sometimes think that our normal is their normal, and we couldn’t be further from the truth.

I have never had a behaviour issue on a trip. I’m not a guru, I don’t have a magic wand, students just know how to play the game. They knew they were released into public; they can see that they are being trusted. Even when a Buddhist monk asked them to chant ‘I love my teachers’ at the top of their voices, they obliged.

The knowledge that students can take from the first-hand experience of visiting a place of worship is invaluable. Seeing the imagery, sacred texts and even first-hand experience of people worshipping can support an exam answer better than any other format can.

In an age where we are trying to get students a 9, in an un-tiered exam, we need to include experiences in our teaching that they wouldn’t normally have. What can we do to set them apart from the rest?

‘I don’t have time’; I hear you cry. ‘My school will never cover me’; I hear you say. There are usually ways around it. In January, I am taking my students to a Catholic Church, Church of England Church and a Mosque for £3.50. Insurance, minibus and donation all included. I am taking students out of their lesson with me, they don’t miss any other lesson. The cover is me and the token member of SLT who happens to be free at that time. The offsite coordinator sat with me, and within 20 minutes the forms, letter, budget and risk assessments were completed.

There is always a way to get students that personal experience. Do you really need a coach? Can you walk there or get there another way?

My thought for this year is, London isn’t the only place that has places of worship. I want to show them where their peers and neighbours worship, again making those real life links.

If we really want to bring religion to life, sometimes, we need to bring them to the religion.

Clare Hawkins, new Head of RS at a school in Bracknell and member of West Berkshire SACRE

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