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What is a School?

by Gordon and Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about the school as an interdependent community.

Preparation and materials

  • Read through the poem in advance.


  1. Ask the children to think of sentences that include the word 'school'. After a few of the more obvious examples, steer them towards thinking of more unusual uses of the word, such as those that do not necessarily refer to their kind of school. Examples are: a school of fish, a school of thought, a university school (of a certain subject). Introduce these yourself if they are not offered by the children and also introduce the phrase 'being schooled in a subject'.
  2. Say that there are lots of uses of the word school, as exemplified in this poem:

    I said - I went to school.
    She said - Went to school who? And what did you school them in?
    I said - No, I went to a school.
    She said - A school of piranha or herring?
    I said – No, it was a primary school.
    She said - So it came first in everything?
    Then I lost my temper and said - Listen, silly.
    It was [insert school name] in [insert town], now do you understand?
    She said – Well, there is a school of thought that says if you lose your temper you shouldn't be listened to. Now where did you say you went?
    I said - I went to school.
    She said - Went to school who? And what did you school them in?
    I gave up!

  3. Ask the children to think about schools like theirs. Can they complete this sentence: A school is ...? Aim to get a number of examples, like:

    A school is ...
    ... a building
    ... a place to learn
    ... made up of children and teachers and support staff
    ... a place to go
    ... fun, sometimes
    and so on.

    Draw out the fact that a school like theirs is a lot of things at the same time.

  4. Ask the children what they think of this idea: A school is a community. Ask what a community is and work towards the idea that it's a group of people who share things and belong to each other. What do you share in school? Come up with a list of such things as: teachers, rooms, time, talent, work, play …

Time for reflection

Our school is a community
That means we share and care for each other because we belong together.
What will you share with the school community today? (pause for thought)
And what will the community share with you? (pause for thought) Prayer:
God of all people,
You made us to live in communities,
to share with each other and to care for each other.
Thank you for the community of our school.


‘Spirit of peace’ (Come and Praise, 85).

Publication date: October 2004   (Vol.6 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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