Cathedral and Children

By Liz Hurst

Going in to the Schools and Families department at Peterborough Cathedral is like entering an Aladdin’s cave! There are child-sized Tudor costumes and monks outfits, tissue paper stained glass windows and prototype crafts amongst the spreadsheets and year planners.

An amazing 3500 or more schoolchildren visit the Cathedral every year. The aim is to grow this number to 6000 by 2020, using the new Cathedral’s new Learning Centre as a base.

“The Cathedral is such a rich resource for learning,” says Alex Carton, the Cathedral’s Schools and Families Officer. “We aim to offer activities that all can access and that are beyond the reach of most classrooms.” The idea is that both teachers and pupils have an enjoyable day.

“If you give people something to do that they enjoy, like a digital game, a craft to make, objects to handle or a story to re-enact, you are helping them to understand more about this place. Understanding leads to valuing the Cathedral. Once they value it we hope they will want to visit again and engage not only with the building but also with its Christian faith. It’s a virtuous circle.”

The activities offered to schools tap into different aspects of the curriculum, not only RE and history but also art, science, maths and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC). There are sessions for early years through to sixth formers, as well as bespoke activities like the whole school Easter pilgrimage being prepared for All Saints Primary School from Wellingborough in March.

The “Faith, Worship and Belief” activity gives a hands-on introduction to Christian places of worship. “We talk about Baptism being the way that Christians welcome newcomers and think about how people are welcomed into their school,” says Alex. “We always start with something that is within the children’s own experience.”

The Cathedral building itself remains the star of the show. “Every visit begins with a moment of quiet so that the building can speak to them” says Alex. Asking how they feel when they are in the Cathedral yields some keen observations. “It makes me feel small” and “It’s big because God is big” were thoughts from some 7-8 year olds.

To enquire about booking a school visit to the Cathedral, or if you are interested in volunteering to help with school and family groups, call 01733 355307 or email

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