Lydiard Millicent CE VC Primary School
Revd Tudor Roberts & Revd Tricia Roberts
West Swindon and the Lydiards, Swindon
Already familiar to children and staff around school, the husband and wife team mounted the challenge of getting into theological depth. They offered to hold Q&A sessions, exposing beliefs to the children’s curiosity. This openness to risk and dialogue illustrated to staff and parents that the church didn’t assume authority, and helped children really get behind ideas which they were used to hearing.
The idea for question and answer sessions with children actually came from a teaching assistant. This willingness on both sides to work together imaginatively stems from close relationships which have been cultivated through the church’s support in the school and through the enthusiasm of the staff.
Tudor and Tricia work closely with the RE and collective worship coordinators, the head and deputy head to make these areas real and alive to pupils: helping set a curriculum to tackle topics teachers have found difficult in the past, facilitating experience trails, making Bible teaching interactive. When telling Bible stories, they try to get children to reflect on them. Collective worship too always ends with an invitation to ask questions.
Theology Q&As was a natural extension then – children having a dedicated time to make their own enquiries based on their own reflections. The size of groups is kept to about ten so that all feel secure and can be involved with an equal voice in the discussions. Even parents who may not be that supportive of the school’s Church status are still pleased that their children are encouraged to think critically and for themselves. Pupils have the space to make their own minds up about the problem of evil, who made God, or why Jesus is special.
The success of these sessions has spread to other non-Church schools who have invited Tudor and Tricia to visit. Their willingness to be more an aid to learning than a teacher has led staff at the school to bring them along to their own training.