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Celebrating RE through engagement and discovery with Euston Street Primary

BEd Primary students Oisin Morgan and Joy Smyth reflect on a recent event in collaboration with Widening Participation:

‘On the 27th November, we as Year 3 RE Area of Specialism students organised a day for a P7 class from Euston Street Primary School, Belfast at Stranmillis to celebrate RE and to raise awareness of various world religions. Overall, it was a very successful and enriching day which has allowed us as RE students to develop our leadership skills in preparation for possible future roles as RE coordinators in schools.

The day began with icebreaker activities to allow us to get to know the children and for them to know us. We encouraged them to think about their own similarities and differences with games such as ‘All Change’ - a game that was clearly quite new to them. This relaxed start enabled us to build a good rapport with the pupils which from the start. The pupils were then split into three groups which rotated between each of the three sessions which lasted approximately 40 minutes. Each session focused on a festival in one of three world religions – Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.

We – Oisin and Joy - both chose the Hindu festival of Diwali as the focus for our lesson, due to the opportunities such a lesson can create. Our lesson focused on developing the children’s understanding of the importance of light within Diwali and from this the children created their own diva lamps - a key feature of the Diwali story. Throughout the entirety of the planning and delivery stages of the day, the key role which co-ordinators of any subject have became apparent as they try to promote an engaging and inclusive approach to their subject areas.

We concluded the day by bringing all of the groups together for an interactive quiz to question their knowledge gained throughout the day within Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. We felt that the children were fully engaged within all of the learning experiences. The pupils arrived with little awareness of religious diversity; however by the end of the event they were able to discuss the various celebrations that are important to various people in our society today’.

Primary 7 teacher at Euston St PS Emma Millar commented: ‘The activities were set at an appropriate level and the children enjoyed the hands-on nature of all of the activities and the resources that you had to offer in specialised fields that schools wouldn’t always have. The only complaint from the children was that they couldn’t stay longer, which was lovely! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope to be back again some time in the future’.

Lecturer Jill Magennis concluded: ‘This event brought together aspects of connected learning through interactive RE activities to deepen the children’s knowledge in different religious festivals. This new aspect of assessment was a real success – thank you to Jayne Hamilton (Widening Participation Officer) for the practical support and well done to all of the students involved!’

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