The Leeds Church Institute (LCI) Listening Leeds project has been running for a few years in schools in and around Leeds. We bring our yurt to you as a safe space for a listening experience. Our vision is children being listened to attentively by someone showing care, interest and understanding.

Each individual project is tailor-made for the school in question. LCI staff meet with school staff to discuss the project in detail so that advance planning can be put in place. We like to liaise with the local church too, who often assist with the listening. We do not make a charge for this project, it is part of the ongoing mission and ministry of Leeds Church Institute.

So far we have found that when we visit primary schools it is possible for the whole school from the youngest to the oldest to take part, although nursery and reception children usually join us for a story in the yurt rather than engaging with the project fully. Academies and High Schools usually involve more children, you might like to consider a year group at a time.

Three focal points are set up for the event, two provided by LCI, and a third provided by the school. Groups of 15 pupils at a time will be brought into the yurt, accompanied by a teacher, where they will be led through reflections at two focus points in the yurt, while the children listen. Outside the yurt the children share their thoughts and the listeners, listen.

Head Teacher’s Comments

“….We really liked the idea of giving the children time and space to think and to talk and most of all to be listened to. In the mad hurley burley of school life, we all too often assume what children are thinking, catch only half of what they say and are so busy trying to sort out their problems that we don’t quite get to thebottom of how they really feel. Also in school, there’s a temptation to always put on special events that are big and fun and colourful and noisy, that the children will be excited by. This was different. It was a quiet space. Chance to think and reflect. For children to speak without judgment or agenda and for us to give them the gift of being listened to. Would they be bored? Would they be respectful? Were they capable of being that quiet and still?

Our children responded amazingly well. Contrary to our assumptions, they did find the yurt exciting and we were amazed at how peaceful they were able to be both inside and outside the space. We found out things we didn’t know about how they feel about living in Leeds, about life in school and about their inner lives. More than that, it felt as though we’d made a connection with them in a new way. Taken time just to let them be. Given them space to express themselves in whatever way they wanted without an agenda, a success criteria, with no expectations. It has been a privilege to read back over what they told us and has reminded us of the great gift it is to work with these precious young souls and of the words of Jesus: ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these’

Kate Cameron
Co Head
Burley St Matthias CE School, Leeds

If you are interested in bringing the Listening Leeds Yurt to your school contact lawrence@leedschurchinstitute.org