We began by running a small pilot project which we called “Children Just Like Me” which linked Easton CE Academy with a school in Soundwell. Jane spent time with ten children from Year 5 from both schools, helping them to write their own personal story sheets about their life, beliefs, culture, traditions and family. We then helped to run two day trips, where the children visited each other’s schools and local area. The children were involved in the planning of the trips and in hosting each other. They shared food from their own traditions, played together, had a tour of the local area and spent time finding out more about each other. This included a thought-provoking spiritual discussion. The pilot project was hugely beneficial to all the children who took part.
Peter decided that, in the next academic year, it would be good for all Year 5 pupils from the different classes to be involved. So we helped to link each class with another school that was very different from the school in Easton. Each child was given a pen pal who they got to know by writing to them and receiving replies. The children then visited each other’s schools and local areas, including places that were important to them – for example the park, shops, and places of worship and community spaces. During the trips we also provided space for spiritual dialogue between the children. They had a chance to share their own personal story sheet with their pen pal, which was a good opportunity for cultural and spiritual dialogue. This project has now been running for several years, and we have seen countless positive outcomes for the children, including: celebrating similarities and differences, breaking down perceived barriers, and gaining respect and understanding of different cultures. We would love to see this project replicated in other schools in the Bristol area. If you are interested – please get in touch.