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Teaching the next generation about modern slavery

25th October 2021 | Diocese

Ely Cathedral leads the way

The Clewer Initiative

The team at Ely Cathedral is working to find innovative and highly contextualised ways of spreading knowledge about modern slavery.

In partnership with The Clewer Initiative, the Cathedral’s Education and Learning Centre is piloting a pioneering education project, led by Jessica Martin, Canon Residentiary, and Philippa Stevens, Director of Learning.

The project is designed to teach children and young people about modern slavery by expounding on Ely’s unique history and using it as a jumping-off point to help students think about slavery and refugees in the modern world. The educational material centres around an engaging and high-quality historical film, ‘Sanctuary’, which explores the role of Ely as a place of refuge during the Norman Conquest.

Year 5 and 6 students from more than 20 schools took part in a structured online Schools Day on 18th October 2021, Anti-Slavery Day. The day included an assembly streamed from the Octagon at Ely Cathedral, a screening of ‘Sanctuary’, and three structured workshops led either by the team at Ely or teachers in schools. The workshops covered an analysis of the film and the characters, the contexts of refugees and modern slavery, the experience of refugees today and the challenges they face, and Christian attitudes to helping the vulnerable.

For Key Stage 3 students, a series of three fully structured and highly interactive humanities lessons have been prepared. The lessons aim to raise awareness of slavery as a modern issue (History), the relationship between migration, slavery and the local area (Geography), and slavery as a social justice issue (Religious Studies). Some Key Stage 3 students will also have the opportunity to develop their own exciting project to support unseen members of their community.

Each school will select a team who will work to design and propose a project. In December, six finalists will receive £50 funding to run a pilot. In March 2022, there will be a special ‘Presentation Day’, where judges (including some from The Clewer Initiative) will pick a winner. The winning project will receive a further £200 in funding.

A series of five lessons have been created for Key Stage 4 students. The lessons can be run as part of the Religious Studies GCSE, reflecting on Christian responses to issues of human rights, and the role of the Church locally, nationally, and internationally, in responding to issues of social justice and human dignity.

So far, the pilot has been a huge success, and the work does not stop here! Following the success of the pilot, Ely will work with The Clewer Initiative to take the transferable elements of the project forward as a blueprint, with a view to developing the work in wider contexts, and hopefully making a difference to the way we teach children and young people about modern slavery!

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