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The Story of REinspired (PDF Download)

Developing creative partnerships between churches and schools

David Skinner, Paul Haynes and Jane Earl

Currently out of print £8.99 View sample pages

Schools want the sort of partnership and involvement that REinspired has offered so brilliantly in Reading.
The Right Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford


REinspired tells the story of how a group of churches in Earley and East Reading developed a way of working with primary schools to support the teaching of RE. The material covers the background of how the project developed and explores the principles REinspired has worked to - including stories of how students have engaged with the materials, and how churches from a wide ecumenical base have been involved. It then provides a practical guide to enable others to use the model to develop links between their own church and local schools.

The REinspired story covers the development of RE and assembly materials; the recruitment and support of volunteers; how to build relationships with schools and others; and all the practical considerations the team have learnt so far on their journey.

The book aims to inspire and enable churches to become fully engaged in resourcing RE in schools. The structure provides plenty of help in terms of training and materials, and useful contacts and information about ongoing support.


Schools want the sort of partnership and involvement that REinspired has offered so brilliantly in Reading.
The Right Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford

My hope and prayer is that many churches will catch this vision, engage with their local schools and offer a dynamic encounter with living Christian faith.
Sarah Lane-Cawte, Education Officer, Churches Together in England

Author info

David Skinner is a Baptist minister living in Houghton Regis. He has a background in community-based social work, exploring innovative ways to work with schools and students on spiritual issues. Paul Haynes is Project Director of REinspired. For the past 20 years he has been involved in various ministries working with children and young people. Jane Earl has been chair of the trustees of REinspired for the past three years. She is a former senior civil servant, and was chief executive of a local council.


From REtoday - Summer 2012

The book outlines how the REinspired project evolved through the work of an ecumenical group of churches who wanted to develop effective and sustainable support for local primary schools with regard to RE. It explores the principles that formed the basis of the work and how the project took shape. The book gives an honest account and evaluation of the process, how the project has grown and how it has the potential to grow in the future. This includes how the project may be adapted for use in a secondary school setting.

The book is very practical and includes case studies and quotes from a variety of participants including children, volunteers and staff. The Appendix includes detailed timed lesson plans and resource templates which would be particularly useful to volunteers who may not have teaching experience. It seeks to encourage interaction with the ideas through questions for consideration at the end of each chapter.

A helpful book, particularly for RE subject leaders and church communities, in giving guidance and a potential strategy for developing a very fruitful partnership to enhance the pupils' learning in RE.

Reviewed by Susan Thompson

From The Church Times - 22 June 2011

The remarkable story of an innovative partnership between local church communities and primary schools in Earley and East Reading is told in The Story of REinspired by David Skinner, Paul Haynes, and Jane Earl.

It is a well-hidden secret that some of the most financially strapped schools in the country are not necessarily in the inner cities. They are often in rural areas, with a tiny pupil-roll, and, on the surface, seem like idyllic places to work at the heart of the community.

In reality, a shortage of funding leads to a truncated curriculum and a paucity of enrichment opportunity. The church communities in Earley and East Reading committed a small sum each, in the first instance, and devised a programme based on some straightforward Christian themes, such as symbols and the creative arts.

Training in basic pedagogy is provided by experts before the volunteers go into school. So successful has it been, the churches in the area are now contributing an incredible 100,000 pounds to the scheme.

Nothing is left to chance. There are sample risk-assessments, and the appendices contain model lessons and activities. There is much to admire here; and, given the current budgetary constraints, primary schools will bite your hand off if the help offered is professional, engages the children, and, as a bonus, ticks the right OFSTED boxes.

The harvest is certainly there; these communities demonstrate that the labourers are not necessarily as few as we may have thought.

The following are comments from teachers and educationalist talking about the work of REinspired:

The group has been most inspired and, over the years, has invented wonderful work to involve our children. The pilgrimage day was fantastic - the children really enjoyed that.
Julie Hatherly, primary teacher, New Town Primary School

Children and staff were warmly welcomed and encouraged to participate throughout. The children learnt about Advent and the real meaning of Christmas. Their vocabulary was extended while watching exciting and colourful presentations and talks.
Year 1 teachers at Whiteknights Primary school

It's great that REinspired now come into school and run their workshops here. They are always well organised, with the resources needed readily available for the children to use. A good variety of teaching approaches and activities are used.
Debbie Bell, teacher at Radstock Primary School

REinspired visits enable children to meet and hear people of faith talking about their faith. Faith moves from the abstract to the real. It is so important, when children are learning about religion, that they meet believers, and this is what is so great about REinspired. The interactive nature of the sessions helps promote a positive picture of faith and of the subject.
Margaret Elcock, primary teacher, RE coordinator and SACRE member

At St Peter's School we greatly value our close links with REinspired. As a Church of England school we aim to provide our pupils with a varied and exciting Religious Education curriculum. We believe we do this within school. However, by working with REinspired we are able to offer the children far more than would otherwise be possible.

The children greatly look forward to their REinspired sessions, which are always well planned, presented and resourced and add to the children's perception that RE is an exciting subject. From a teachers' perspective, the sessions provide a high level of expert input.

Both our last OFSTED report and our last Church School Inspection report talk about the outstanding spiritual and moral development of St Peter's pupils. I believe that REinspired and, more particularly, every individual who represents it and works for it can quite rightly say that, through their work with our children, they have played a vital role in, and have been part of, the school achieving those standards.
Steve Scott, head teacher at Earley St Peter's Primary School

REinspired does exactly what it says on the tin. In our schools it has given encouragement to our teachers to explore issues of faith and culture by giving living examples of faith. The work is always scrupulously researched and inclusive. They have made a tremendous contribution to RE in Reading.
Alfie Hay, General Adviser for Education to Reading Borough Council

From The Baptist Times - 11 February 2011

This book tells the story of a group of churches who wanted to connect with the children in their community and how they stumbled over a simple way to do that.

REinspired is rooted in some fresh mission thinking that's been tested with a dozen primary schools and thousands of pupils over 10 years. The REinspired Trust delivers lots of assemblies, but the heart of its activity is supporting the teaching of Christianity in RE.

The approach is definitely not about avoiding the spiritual or the difficult. It enables church leaders to take a back seat and empower the 'ordinary members' of a congregation to share their faith openly with students. It's always about working with staff to help students each their learning goals and it's enjoyable, fascinating, challenging and irresistible for the pupils as well as the teachers and volunteers.

It started with 10 people working with a couple of classes. Today REinspired comes close to working with 'every child, in every school, every year', which is around 4,500 pupils.

Most REinspired sessions take place in the atmosphere of a church. Often schools approach churches for visits: 'to contrast and compare their buildings'. You can show them round or you can offer to engage them in a range of educational activities which makes the faith of the church come alive. It's not difficult and students, excited by a visit to somewhere new, will be fascinated to taste the history of the place, explore the baptistery and the marriage registers, the pulpit and the communion table and much else.

Such opportunities can become a first step to a deeper relationship with a school. Schools have curriculum needs for pupils to listen to 'people of faith'. Perhaps to explain why they pray, or what they believe happens when we die or what they believe about Easter, Christmas or Pentecost.

We are asked to deliver over 40 different sessions from 'Why Christians believe Jesus is special' to 'Understanding death, funerals and bereavement'. Often what is needed is not a 'right answer' but an encounter with someone who can speak about their faith from the inside.

REinspired has been generously supported by the Baptist Union and the Jerusalem Trust. The Story of REinspired is published with a challenge that readers should understand how it works and then do something with it. We have some funding to help others take a step and cross the line to engage their local schools in a new way.

David Skinner

Book details

  • ISBN: 9781841018911Z
  • Published: 18 February 2011
  • Status:
  • Format: PDF Download
  • Pages: 160
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