Religious Studies in the Senior School and Sixth Form
One of the effects of the pandemic was the closure of places of worship.
The school has been unable to visit the Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs for the Carol Service and other occasions, for the second year running we did not make our annual visit to the Mandir (Hindu temple) in Neasden, and the long-anticipated opportunity of Year 8 visiting the new Mosque on Mill Road, Cambridge had to be shelved for the time being.
An unforeseen result of this was students’ innovative and creative responses to studying places of worship. Some combined their work with ‘lockdown hobbies’ to create their own models or guided tours.
Notable examples were a combination of baking and Judaism to produce a remarkable synagogue in cake (pictured above) by Amelia McA. and Isabella W., and a number of mosques created in the virtual world of Minecraft (below), as well as a guide produced using stop motion animation. While we loved their creativity, we hope to be able to return to some of these places in real life before too long.
L-R: Mosque created in Minecraft by Sadie P., Alexis K., and Elena B. Mosque in Minecraft by Miranda C. and a Stop Animation by Rosie D.
Outstanding work this year has included
Year 9 Ketubah designs
The Ketubah is the document presented at Jewish wedding ceremonies and these are very creative and attractive examples, rich in colour and symbolism.
Year 10 Prayer
There were a number of excellent thoughtful and reflective answers discussing personal responses to prayer. I was so impressed by a number of students who began “I’m not religious…”, or “I don’t really pray…” and then shared some real insights as to the possible significance of prayer or what it might mean for individuals.
Year 9 Jewish Marriage
Cecilia V.-F.’s common task response gained full marks.
Year 7 Baptism
Mikie L. and Samskriti P. produced thorough and engaging projects. Download and read Mikie L.'s project
Year 8 - Salah
Ivy C. devised a presentation script on Salah (prayer in Islam), which was very confidently delivered. Download and read.
Year 10 GCSE work
Tabi B. wrote an excellent balanced response to a 12-mark evaluation question on incarnation.
The lockdown experience has been both a challenge and a learning opportunity for students and staff and, in their RS lessons, students have often impressed with their perseverance, resilience and positive attitude (and their patience when technology didn’t always go according to plan).
Students adapted to contributing ideas in varied ways (Teams chat, one note, collaborative whiteboards, Teams breakout rooms...etc.) and, indeed, adapted to different modes of schooling as the situation changed - learning to move between virtual, hybrid and in-person learning. Some of our boarding students in particular impressed with their perseverance in developing their understanding by rewatching recorded lessons or following recorded lessons when they were out of time zone.
Years 11 & 13 also continued to develop their writing and evaluation skills despite growing uncertainty about final exams and what needed to be learnt. On a lighter note, we enjoyed supporting each other by sharing happy moments, news and generally cheering one another up at the beginning and ends of lessons – with updates on pets and baking achievements in Years 7 and 8!
That it has been an extraordinary year goes without saying. We have been challenged and tested and, at times, we have been very, very tired from the hours on screen and unfamiliar routines. But, we have been more adaptable than we could have imagined and have found our strength and resilience and comfort in being still St Mary’s, not only in our lessons but in our community spirit.
We have learned things outside of lessons too – about ourselves, about the things we took for granted but may not overlook in future, about the way in which what seemed to be burning issues and priorities in our lives and communities changed almost overnight, about the power of quiet and stillness and birdsong and open spaces in lockdown, and about the joy of being back in community with each other.
Return to Magnolian 2021