Schools and leaders awarded for inter-faith efforts

Teachers, leaders and schools working to build understanding between people of different faiths were honoured in an awards ceremony last week presented by Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens.

Mr Islam paid tribute to the work of the Three Faiths Forum, organisers of the 3FF Education Awards.

“It’s an honour to be involved in this kind of a forum which is so desperately needed – on the higher levels, and on every level," he said.

"We need to influence where decisions are made, and this is one of the major contributions this forum is engaged in.”

The Interfaith Gold Medallion was presented to Fuad Nahdi, founding publisher of Q-News and Director of the Radical Middle Way, in honour of his tireless contribution to interfaith work.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Nahdi said: “Exploring our mutuality and joint understanding is not about being wishy-washy and watering down faith.

"It’s about delving deeper into it. We are moved from the ages of conversion to the age of convergence. Finding what we have in common is a duty and a responsibility of faith.”

He added: “The skills of interfaith – those promoted so well through the educational work of organisations like 3FF – are vital.

"We must keep talking to each other, appreciating each other, if only to understand ourselves and our own faiths a little better.”

Twelve teachers, leaders and schools who have taken part in 3FF’s schools programmes were shortlisted for education awards for interfaith work.

They were:

Best Teacher

Robert Getley from St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Southgate, for his inspirational dedication to his class as part of the ‘Faith and Football’ programme run by 3FF and the Football Association.

Also nominated were Nicola Griffiths from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language School for Girls in Islington and Peretz Tabor from Michael Sobell Sinai School in Harrow for their preparedness to confront controversial issues.

Best Senior Leader

Mark Garfield from Simon Marks School in Stoke Newington won for his efforts to expose his students to diversity, to challenge their views, and to connect with the local community.

Kate Baptiste from St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Southgate and Sadiya Hadadi from Ayesha Community School in Hendon were also recognised for their support of interfaith initiatives in their school communities.

Best School Link

Islamia Girls School (Brent) and La Sainte Union Catholic School (Camden), whose successful partnership was demonstrated during a school link on 3FF Day which culminated in the girls creating a joint school logo. Other commended school links were those between Chater Junior School and Hertsmere Jewish Primaries (Hertfordshire), and Guru Nanak Sikh School and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary (Hillingdon).

Best School

Al Sadiq and Al Zahra Schools in Brent for their intercultural initiatives, highlighting their organising of the 'Heart and Soul' conference for four different faith schools. Other nominees acknowledged for their encouragement of openness and sensitivity in the community were Michael Sobell Sinai School in Harrow and Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets.

Robert Getley, who won the award for Best Teacher, said: “I feel really delighted. My favourite part of being involved in this work is seeing the children play together and breaking stereotype boundaries.

"On our last trip to see the Jewish children, our girls had written them birthday cards, which made the whole thing really worthwhile.”

Aliya Azam, who accepted the award for Best School for Al Sadiq and Al Zahra Schools, said: “Friendship drives out racism. Through the inspiring initiative of 3FF the children get to know each other as human beings, showing that religion can be a force for promoting unity.

"They have worked together, played together and enjoyed each other’s friendship. We must not succumb to the dichotomy of ‘us’ and ‘them’; we must try and transcend our differences and affirm our common humanity.”

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