Pupils at a high school in East Renfrewshire have enjoyed their school's new interactive approach to Religious Observance. In an attempt to try something different from the usual Religious Observance assembly, Woodfarm High opted to pilot an idea put forward by their SU Scotland Regional Worker, Martin Boyd, and ran a three-day Contemplation Room with interactive stations that focus on a specific area of Religious Observance.
Below, Martin shares the success of the event:
Several months ago I was invited to a discussion at one of the schools in my region, Woodfarm High, about how Religious Observance should be carried out in the school. During the meeting I suggested that, instead of having the traditional assembly time, we created an interactive Contemplation Room in the school (similar to something we had done previously for the European Pray for Schools Day).
It was also decided to take a fresh approach and re-name any Religious Observance events to 'Making Sense of...' events (e.g. Making Sense of Respect, Making Sense of Christmas, Making Sense of Equality, etc).
The school were keen to pilot the Contemplation Room idea with the first of these events: Making Sense of Respect. The school made sure every pupil in S1-S5 was timetabled to visit the Contemplation Room, and pupils in S6 were able to opt-in during their non-contact periods.
Visits lasted for half a period (around 25 minutes) and had approximately 25 pupils. Given the size of Woodfarm High, it took the best part of three days to get through all of the pupils, let alone the staff who were also encouraged to take time to visit (we had the office staff and dinner ladies popping in too which was great). This was a significant commitment of time from the team manning it (who were mostly parents) but we felt that it was really worth it, and the time taken to set up was wholly justified.
During the event
We had dictionary definitions of respect or disrespect set up outside the room so that as those passing the room (which was immediately off the main 'street' area in the school) could see that there was something going on.
It was good to see the first impressions of each group as they came into the room - especially the forest scene which had real giant leaves hanging down from the ceiling.
They immediately knew that this was something quite different from what they had taken part in previously, and also that a lot of work had gone into preparing the room. Each session began with a two minute introduction for each group, giving the briefest of tours of the room and pointing out the 3 main areas:
- Respect of environment
- Respect for others
- Respect for self
At each station there were things to read, write about, play with and investigate. We had appropriate Bible verses at each station along with other quotes which we suggested that pupils used these to inform and guide their thoughts.
There were at least three team members in the room at any time - they helped to prompt thinking and were able to ask and answer questions.
In terms of chaplaincy this was one of the 'successes' of the event - instead of just speaking to rows of young people, this style of event gave us an opportunity to interact with the pupils, have worthwhile conversations and build relationships.
"I thought the 'Making Sense of...Respect' event was excellent. The group of parents had worked hard to be really creative and produced a very positive experience for the pupils. Individual pupils were given a chance to engage freely with the stations and I felt that this model really helped pupils to consider their thoughts on the theme. We are grateful to the parents and chaplains who staffed the room for the duration of the event. I hope that we can continue to improve our provision of Religious Observance events at Woodfarm High." Teacher, Woodfarm High