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Churches as learning opportunities

Kirkharle St Wilfrid

Churches - ancient and modern - are rich resources to support learning for children and adults alike. 

The oldest churches in the North East date back to the time of the Anglo-Saxons and are home to relics and artefacts of some of the most important saints in England.  Whilst you might be familiar with Hexham Abbey (St. Wilfrid), Bamburgh and Holy Island (St Aidan), Durham Cathedral (St. Cuthbert), Wearmouth/Jarrow (St. Bede) and Hartlepool (St. Hild), did you know that many other churches also have connections to these and other great saints?

There are also churches that feature memorials to great men and women from the region, including Vice Admiral Collingwood, Grace Darling, Emily Wilding Davison and Josephine Butler.

A church visit can support learning in RE, History, Art, Maths, Geography and English.

Many of the Spirit in Stone churches have links to the Northern Saints so a visit would support most of the local Agreed Syllabuses for RE both for KS1 (where you might be learning about one local saint such as Bede or Hild), or upper KS2 (where you might study the Christian faith through the lives of the northern saints).

There are also many opportunities for a church visit supporting work in the National Curriculum, particularly History.  For example:

Key Stage 1 teaching could be enriched by

  • visiting the burial places of Emily Wilding Davison or Josephine Butler to support teaching about 'a study of the lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements'
  • A study of the lives of Grace Darling or one of the great northern saints would support teaching about 'significant historical events, people and places in their own locality'

Key Stage 2 teaching could be enriched by

  • visiting one of the churches that was home to an Anglo-Saxon saint to support teaching 'Britain's settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots'
  • a visit to the Quaker Meeting House in Darlington (burial place of the Pease family, who financed the first railway) would support the teaching of 'a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils' chronological knowledge beyond 1066', particularly how the first railways sparked a significant turning point in British history

Key Stage 3 teaching could be enriched by

  • visiting one of the many medieval churches in the region to support the study of 'the development of Church, state and society in Medieval Britain 1066 - 1509'
  • exploring the effect of the Reformation on churches in the region both physically and structurally to support the study of 'the development of Church, state and society in Britain 1509 - 1745
  • examining war memorials as evidence of impact on the locality to support the study of 'challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 19901 to the present day'
  • using a church as the starting point to a local history study, e.g. those sited in the midst of Border wars, and considering how it reflects the political and economic climate over a period of time.

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