Cumbria Virtual Voices in Religious Education

Cumbria Virtual Voices in Religious Education

The VVRE project helps young people in schools across Cumbria to virtually meet different ‘voices’ who are connected to Cumbria and have something to say about their personal and shared religion and worldview.

Virtual Voices in Religious Education (VVRE) is a collaborative project between Cumbria SACRE and CDEC. Funded by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, this project has created a facilitated and secure virtual platform for primary and secondary schools to encounter ‘voices’ for an education in religion and worldviews. An outcome of the project has been to produce a series of innovative digital resources, the aim of which being to enhance high-quality teaching and learning of RE and SMSC for schools in Cumbria.

If you would like to use these resources, please fill in this form and we will be in touch with access details.

Please get in touch for more information about the project.

Connecting with authentic voices with local relevance

VVRE Project Lead and Chair of Cumbria SACRE, Jane Yates, says: “This is an exciting collaboration that has enabled Cumbria SACRE to strengthen their relationship with CDEC to improve support for RE and SMSC in schools.  The pandemic has certainly opened our eyes to the potential for virtual technology for RE.  The VVRE project has provided the opportunity to connect with authentic ‘voices’ with local relevance to Cumbria which makes such encounters so much more meaningful for pupils and teachers.”

Meaningful dialogues on the lived experience of religion and worldviews

Through the project, a team of diverse and inclusive volunteers has been formed from members of Cumbria SACRE, and through other relevant organisations. These individual and authentic ‘voices’ used the medium of film to provide meaningful descriptions and  dialogues on their unique and lived experiences of religion and worldviews. Initially, each voice produced a short introductory ‘personal worldview’ film which served as a preparation activity prior to the students meeting them live for facilitated virtual events.



Developing innovative virtual activities

Teachers and students worked with the project team to experiment with different ways of bringing virtual voices into their classrooms. An important part of the project, has been an oracy strand, especially around questioning and dialogue. After watching the relevant personal worldview films in class, the students prepared ‘you-questions’ to pose to the voices. The idea behind you-questions is they offer a more disciplinary approach to RE. When students are thinking as human/social scientists, they can explore the world as lived experience and you-questions provide a valuable research method. Quite simply, you-questions work because they encourage students to add you/your in the grammatical structure of a question.  This subtly prompts the students to focus on personal and lived experience of the voices rather than as an expert or spokesperson of a particular religious or non-religious worldview.  The simple but effective idea of you-questions was a unique dimension to the project. The example from William Howard School below shows how you-questions worked with two facilitated events exploring diversity in a religion.

As part of their learning around the shared worldview of Christianity, one class of Y7 students virtually met five Christian voices with something to say about Anglican, Orthodox, Quaker, Methodist and Free Church denominations. 

A rich selection of ‘you-questions’ were asked by the students including: What are the most important design features for you in a place of worship? How do you see/experience God? What do you think about when you pray? Do you think there are any stereotypes about your religion that are not true?



 A Y8 class virtually met three voices with something to say about Shi’a, Sunni and Sufi traditions of Islam as part of their learning about the opportunities and challenges of following the five Pillars of Islam in Modern Britain.  You can read a full write up of this experience on the school website here.

Digital RE resources for schools 

All facilitated events were recorded and edited to create clips of responses to you-questions asked by students. These clips have been collated onto Padlets as a digital resource that is now available for use by schools in Cumbria.  Feedback from teachers who have piloted the digital resources has been extremely positive.


Schools have been using the digital resources that have been developed for a series of Abrahamic and Dharmic events, and on Humanism. Teachers from KS1 to KS5 have used the resources as part of classroom teaching or with students using the digital resource independently.  Another focus of the project was a group of very small schools who teach RE in significantly mixed age classes.  Students and staff from Asby Endowed School gave an inspiring presentation at the Cumbria SACRE 2022 annual primary conference, talking about the impact of the VVRE project on their children and how it has helped them to prepare a curriculum for religion and worldviews. 

It’s encouraging to see how versatile the resources are with schools using the full resource or dipping in to use individual film clips as a stimulus for Philosophy for Children(P4C). ITT students from the University of Cumbria studying RE have found the resources invaluable for developing subject knowledge of religion and worldviews. Some schools have also used the digital resources as a preparation for organising their own face-to-face or online class visits by one of the voices.  

The VVRE digital resources are linked to relevant themes in line with the Cumbria Agreed Syllabus for RE and supporting Units of Work. They complement the national shift towards an education in religion and worldviews.  Currently, Cumbria SACRE and a group of teachers are revising the Cumbria Agreed Syllabus for RE and the learning from the project is greatly informing the process.

If you would like to use these resources, please fill in this form and we will be in touch with access details.

Please get in touch for more information about the project.


With thanks to Dr Pat Hannam, and Dr Joyce Miller for professional engagement during the project.  Also, to Martyn Soulsby from North Lakes School for IT advice.

*The new vision for Culham St Gabriel’s Trust is for a broad based, critical and reflective education in religion and worldviews contributing to a well-informed, respectful and open society. For more information about Culham St Gabriel’s Trust Vision, head to their website.