What it's like having Open the Book in your school

Volunteer teams of people just like you go into primary schools across the country to bring the Bible to life every week. Head Teacher Louise Youngman shares the impact made by Open the Book in her school.  

The children come from an area of impoverishment and we need to ensure that they don’t miss out on anything. We have children joining us from around the world all the time. We have 26 languages at the moment but that changes all the time. It’s part of our ethos that everyone is sharing and understanding the communities that we live in.

It’s wonderful that the children can come in and build the understanding about each other. People get scared of things that they don’t know, so we try to arm them with the knowledge so that they are not scared.

How the children react

They love hearing about different religions and stories. The Bible stories that they share are morals for living life. They are stories for living life.

To the school and the children it’s the value of living in the community. They know the Open the Book people live on the same streets as them. We visit the local church. It’s about the children getting out and meeting different people. It’s about bringing the communities together and having the communities prepared to listen to one another.

It's the assembly highlight of the week

The vast majority of people living around us are Muslim. With all the terrorism in the news we tell the children that there are bad people in the world, but there’s more good people. 

I have been here for 10 years and have watched different groups come through. The children love them. They really want to hear the stories and they talk about them. They just see it as a story.

They love Open the Book. They love Wednesday assembly because it’s Open the Book day. It is the assembly highlight of the week. They certainly look forward to it.

Why it's important

Bible stories are about morals and values and it’s about understanding those and using those. Today’s story was about being brave and thinking for yourself. We will refer to that. We hope they will use that in their lives. 

I grew up in Wales and I don’t remember Bible stories being told at school. I remember singing and I loved that. I heard a lot of songs, but not stories. I would have liked something like this.

I’d say to other schools considering this, bring in your local team and let the children enjoy it

People shy away from sharing religions openly. It has to be done in a sensitive way. It’s a good thing for children to see and hear and broaden their knowledge.

RE is part of the national curriculum and we promote that. That’s one of our aims. It’s just what we do. That means that the children talk to each other. The children share what they believe and we have an open discussion.

Open the Book can keep coming for another 18 years! I might not be here, but they will be. It’s such a lovely place to work. We are the hub of the local community. Everybody is welcome. This is home.

Louise Youngman is Head Teacher at Priory Primary School, Bedford. 

Find out how to get Open the Book volunteers into your local school.

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