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'Ewe matter' is church message for Hants CofE schools

Children at two Gosport schools were given a big surprise as they saw three life-size fibreglass sheep unveiled as part of a new church schools initiative ...

Children at two Gosport schools were given a big surprise as they saw three life-size fibreglass sheep unveiled.
 
Excited pupils at Leesland Infant and Junior Schools got their first chance to look at the sheep during collective worship based around the theme of shepherds.

And there were plenty of oohs and ahs from the children as the sheep were lifted out of the boxes.
 
The schools asked for three sheep as part of an inter-generational initiative across church schools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight called Ewe Matter. It aims to strengthen links between the schools and their local C of E churches.
 
Almost 70 sheep have now been delivered to C of E schools across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and more may be ordered. Children will now decorate them in a style that says something about their school’s identity and characteristics.
 
Once decorated, the sheep will be taken to Portsmouth and Winchester Cathedrals in July for Leavers’ Services, which are held each year for Year 6 pupils moving on to secondary school. The sheep can then return to individual schools and will continue to be used.
 
Worshippers from local churches will come into school to lead collective worship, read with pupils, help in the classroom and share their experiences. They will be encouraged to use the fibreglass sheep when leading collective worship, especially when telling Biblical stories about sheep.
 
Teachers will also be able to use the sheep in lessons across the whole curriculum. The diocesan education team has produced a range of resources linked to all subject areas so that the initiative is embedded in learning as well as being fun.
 
The Rev Tim Watson, pioneer minister for the Leesland area and a governor for both Leesland Infant and Junior Schools, led the act of collective worship at which the sheep were revealed.
 
He said: “We have three sheep, which can denote our two schools and the local church. And we have three values at our school, the values of love, grace and respect. Perhaps we could decorate these sheep in that way – one to suggest love, one to suggest grace and one to suggest respect?”
 
And Jeff Williams, director of education for Portsmouth and Winchester’s C of E dioceses, said: “We’re really excited about Ewe Matter and I’ve been so pleased by how enthusiastically students and teachers across the diocese have embraced it.
 
“These sheep will act as visual aids in the classroom and will provide impetus for students to think about what makes their community great, and what they can learn from people from other generations.”

PHOTOS: Top (from left): Logan Mitchell and Maisie McCormack, both 11, from Leesland C of E Junior School, and (front, l to r) Clancy Hamilton and Oscar Kirkham, both 6, from Leesland C of E Infant School

Above: Rev Tim Watson and chair of governors Peter Metcalf taking the sheep out of its box

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