RURAL CHURCH BUILDINGS
How to look after, develop and utilise them
While we do our best to ensure that all links in this resource are correct, we cannot guarantee that links to external websites are kept up to date.
9. Education and Working with Schools
Places of worship offer a multi-faceted education resource. They can illustrate local and national history, art, architectural, crafts, geography and can contribute to the subjects of music, science, maths, geology and biology. Children develop creative skills and engage in practical activities inspired by the building around them. However, most importantly, unlike other historic buildings, a visit to a place of worship can also pose questions about spirituality, life and death, good and evil and contribute to personal and moral development.
Visiting a place of worship is relevant to most Key Stages of the National Curriculum. Key Stages 1 and 2 makes specific reference to the value of taking children on a visit to a place of worship.
Historic England receives funding from the Department for Education for delivering the Heritage Schools initiative which aims to help school children develop an understanding of their local heritage and its significance. It helps to ensure that teachers understand the opportunities and potential of their local historic environment for delivering an engaging curriculum as a core part of the school timetable. historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/education/heritage-schools
Whether or not your local school participates in this initiative, it may be worth approaching them. They may be very happy to work with you and develop activities for a school visit. It may also be worth talking to other places of worship in your area as a visit to more than one place of worship will provide an interesting insight for a school visit. There is plenty of guidance available and you may also be able approach a retired teacher in your community to see if they would like to get involved.
It is also worth providing activities for children who may visit your church on a one-off visit in family groups. Remember that to be effective, the instructions for an activity must be relatively simple and easily understood by both parents and children.
WHERE TO FIND MORE HELP
When visiting museums or other churches look and see what they are providing for schools/family groups. Your cathedral will probably have educational activities and resources for young visitors and school. Talk to their Education Officer if there is one.
The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) has designed Children’s Trails for 8-12-year-olds which could be used for people of all ages. The trail guides the participant round a church looking at the architecture, history and furnishings. You can adapt it to suit your own church building. More information at: nadfas.org.uk/what-we-do/nadfas-church-trails
ChurchCare has some advice here churchcare.co.uk/churches/open-sustainable/learning-and-education-in-church-buildings
The Diocese of Coventry’s Divine Inspiration project (now ended) had a very useful toolkit for school visits. Toolkit 7 Church and School Working Together will give you tips and information for welcoming groups of young people into your church buildings. This can be downloaded from s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/arcentre/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/08094544/Divine-Inspiration-Toolkit___full-1.pdf
The Diocese of Hereford has produced a series of practical Tourism and Visitor advice sheets for churches including:
- Advice Sheet 2: Encouraging School and Group Visits
- Advice Sheet 5: Interpreting For Young People
They can be downloaded at hereford.anglican.org/tourismandtouristsinyourchurch
The Southwell and Nottingham Church History Project although concentrating on church buildings in Southwell and Nottingham also aims to help all parishes appreciate their church buildings. They have produced an extensive resource pack for teachers focusing on how a church building can be a valuable tool for learning. nottsopenchurches.org.uk
RE:ONLINE is aimed at teachers and encourages them to use both local and national places of worship for out-of-classroom teaching in order to give pupils first-hand experiences of religious buildings and the communities they serve. It points to local and national religious resources. Search under ‘places of worship’ to find useful resources. reonline.org.uk/learning
Other websites offer guidance mainly to museums, but they have some useful information on creating trails and other ideas. One such is abcofworkingwithschools.wordpress.com
Groups for Education in Museums (GEM) have a lot of grassroots resources. They offer useful tips and inks on using questioning techniques when developing activities. gem.org.uk
The Friends of St Dunstan’s Church, Cranbrook, Kent with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund Your Heritage grant developed a website providing information on the church’s history for visitors. There are also free downloadable education resources relating to National Curriculum Key Stages 1 and 2 to support work in the classroom in advance of a visit and also for use at the church. The development of these materials benefitted from the local expert knowledge of former teachers who lived in Cranbrook. The grant also helped to pay towards the training of 15 volunteers from Cranbrook School to become guides. fostd.org/education.aspx
Hexham Abbey runs an extensive programme for school visits hexhamabbey.org.uk/school-visits