Project to get families chatting is launched

    28 Nov. 2023

    IT was a heart-warming story about identity that got children chatting at St Jude's C of E Primary School.

    The pupils were talking about I am Nefertiti by Annemarie Anang - a book in which one child asserts that others should learn how to spell and pronounce their name, however complex it might sound. That issue resonated for some in the room.

    It's the kind of conversation that our diocese's 'Chatting Faith' project aims to start. It aims to use the kind of secular books that might be found in school libraries to start conversations about important issues between parents and children.

    St Jude's C of E Primary, in Old Portsmouth, is one of the first schools in our diocese to embrace the initiative. They've chosen one child from each class - so 14 children overall - to take part in the project. Among them was Oliver Jenkins, who has read some of the books at home with his mum Louise.

    Deputy headteacher Izzy Lewis meets with the parents once a fortnight over tea and biscuits, to hand out the next book in the series and talk through their responses to the previous book. Many of them are Christian families, but at least one is a Muslim family. She has been collecting detailed feedback for each book - and parents have said they've valued meeting together and discovering what other families have been discussing.

    Trinity Swift, aged 8, examines one of the books at St Jude's C of E Primary School
    Some of the Chatting Faith resources provided by our diocese
    Some of the books used as part of the Chatting Faith project

    St Jude's C of E Primary School is working together with its local church, St Jude's in Southsea, on the project this term. Also involved are:  

    • North Gosport parish, working alongside Alver Valley Schools in Gosport; 
    • Crofton parish in Stubbington, working alongside local schools; and 
    • St Faith's Church, Lee-on-Solent, working alongside families who take part in their activities. 

    There are more schools and churches involved in Winchester diocese, and others will come on board in January.

    The 'Chatting Faith' project encourages families, churches and schools to use these books, such as Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andrae, The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright, and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Wilems. They may not address faith directly, but examine issues such as anxiety, identity, our environment and transforming our world - all of which may lead onto talking about our sense of purpose and our faith.

    The project is part of the national Church of England’s Growing Faith movement, which inspires families, schools and churches to work together to create new young disciples. Our diocese - working alongside Winchester diocese – is one of 12 Learning Hubs for Growing Faith, and this is the project we are trialling on behalf of the national Church over the next two years. If it’s successful, it will be replicated elsewhere.

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