2014 Accord Inclusivity Award winners announced

January 30, 2014

Newbury Park Primary school in Ilford has won first place in the Award’s primary school section. The school stood out for its innovative ‘Ambassadors of Faith and Belief’ scheme, where volunteers from local sixth forms support the delivery of RE by making presentations to pupils, including about their own beliefs and the role of them in their life. The pioneering project was supported by Redbridge Council’s Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education, who were assisted with a grant from the Westhill/NASACRE Award. The scheme has now been expanded to other schools in the Borough. Seven sixth form pupils are undergoing training at Newbury Park School, with eighteen others currently working with local schools.

Sythwood Primary School in Woking, Surrey, was placed second in the primary category. It won praise for its integration of children with a visual impairment; a teacher visits exchange programme with a Ugandan school, and a ‘language of the month’ scheme, which builds empathy and tolerance among pupils, half of whom speak English as an additional language (and speak twenty seven languages in all).

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said ‘The pioneering approach to RE by Newbury Park Primary school and Redbridge SACRE should also inspire others around the country. RE can suffer from a too greater focus on facts and understanding faiths through the eyes of religious authorities. The school’s ‘Ambassadors of Faith and Belief’ project not only provides a very worthwhile volunteering opportunity for local sixth form pupils, but it allows younger pupils to encounter and have a dialogue with positive role models from different backgrounds, improving their understanding of the nature of faith and belief as a real life experience’.

Newbury Park School head teacher, Mr Colin Whitehead, said ‘This project has proved to be a real success because it offers the young volunteer Ambassadors a real opportunity for personal development and gives primary teachers the chance to have an authentic voice from a whole range of faith communities in their classrooms. ’

The Accord Coalition’s 2014 Inclusivity Award was open to all schools in England and Wales. The Award seeks to celebrate those schools that do most to promote inclusiveness and social cohesion. Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain was joined on this year’s judging panel by:

  • Professor Ted Cantle CBE, Executive Chair of the iCoCo Foundation and leading expert on community cohesion and inter-cultural relations
  • Alex Cunningham MP, Labour member of the House of Commons Education Select Committee
  • Tehmina Kazi, Director of the British Muslims for Secular Democracy
  • Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords

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