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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 11:01 GMT
Schools' anti-bigotry lesson
By Mike Lloyd
For BBC News Online Scotland

Pupils take part in a Nil By Mouth workshop
Children from two primary schools in the East Renfrewshire town of Barrhead have been showing adults the way forward in the battle against sectarianism.

"It has got so bad that children have to sort out the problem," said 11-year old Danielle from Springhill Primary, a non-denominational school.

Lauren from class P7 at nearby St Mark's Roman Catholic Primary agreed. "You shouldn't hate someone because they believe in different things," she said.

Both schools have joined forces to invest a grant of more than 5,000 from the Millennium Commission to tackle the problem.

It's about awareness-raising, but it also allows the children to run the campaign like an enterprise
Ruth Wallace
Springhill deputy head teacher
Springhill head teacher, Helen Glen, said the children feel disappointed that it should take 10 and 11-year-olds to address the problem.

"They think it should really be adults," she said.

Her deputy, Ruth Wallace, came up with the anti-sectarian campaign, to combine the need for an "enterprise" topic in the curriculum with a project that would fire the pupil's enthusiasm.

"It's about awareness-raising, but it also allows the children to run the campaign like an enterprise," said Ruth.

"The children have formed a committee and they hold positions, just like they would in a real enterprise. They are involved in decision-making about what we are going to do."

They are only just setting out on the year-long project but already they have put on a play. Pace Theatre Company from Paisley has helped them develop it in drama workshops.

"It is called, 'Tomorrow's Children'," said Helen.

Songs and movement

"In it there are daytime people and night time people and they fight and take it to the brink.

"The message is that if you don't change your ways you will have war."

Patricia Reilly said her son Sean, a pupil at St Mark's, has learned a lot from taking part in the drama, which uses songs and movement.

"It will be very valuable for him when he grows up," said Patricia, who believes that a lot of the sectarian trouble, "is maybe from ignorance".

And Danielle said the point has got through to her class and they want to spread the word to the whole community.

"If more people know about it, the message gets out - but if they don't the trouble just keeps on going," she said.

The children are hoping to give a performance for adults at Barrhead sports centre and they have other ideas too.

"They are going to distribute leaflets and bookmarks," Ruth Wallace explained.

"Later on we'll have an Arts & Crafts fair in a public venue."

"The kids really love it and the two schools work well together."

Have your say: Sectarianism
25 May 03  |  Scotland
Bigotry study raises racism fears
11 Feb 03  |  Scotland

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