Stepping Out

Stepping Out

On this page

This resource contains material for teachers and play leaders working with young children (5-9 years).

It aims to encourage:

  • Listening skills;
  • Positive interaction with others;
  • Increased understanding of own and others feelings and emotions; identity and belonging;
  • Self-awareness; self-confidence; self-esteem and self-discipline;
  • An exploration of diversity - own and other attitudes, values, choices and opinions;
  • Thinking skills and personal decision-making;
  • Mutual understanding and respect for others.

Getting Started

It is strongly recommended that anyone wishing to use activities in this resource in either the formal school or informal ‘after school’ sectors, and not familiar with ‘circle time’; small group work; and experiential, action-based learning with children, seek and attend some training before using them.

See Joined Up: Developing Good Relations in the School Community:

  • Whole School Approach (pp25-40) and Audit (pp187-211);
  • Group work (pp43-86);
  • Dealing with controversial issues (pp89-104);
  • Circle time (pp107-160);
  • Games (pp120-131 & pp212-255) and
  • Evaluation (pp163-169).

When you start with the work will depend on:

  • your own readiness for it;
  • your preparation and training;
  • your knowledge and perception of the needs of the group;
  • how well the work fits into an existing curricula, whole school/community plan to which you are already committed.

How you use the resource will depend on:

  • how much time you have available;
  • the size of your group.

Remember to:

  • your own readiness for it;
  • Give time to preparing the working environment and making ground rules;
  • Prepare and evaluate each session - the PROCESS is as important as any perceived end result;
  • Evaluate early, change if necessary;
  • STOP if you think something isn’t working;
  • Remind members of the group about confidentiality;
  • End on a positive note - closure is important;
  • Consider your own personal support and the progression of your work – a whole school/community approach is preferable for sustainability.

These resources are very focused on various forms of diversity in identity and belonging. They are intended to be part of a ’whole school’ or ‘whole community’ approach to Community Relations work. There are many other groups involved in Community Relations work, in both the statutory and voluntary sectors, and representatives of some of those groups have been partners in both the steering and the piloting of these resources and they are listed in the acknowledgements.


Many people contributed towards the preparation and production of this resource pack.

The Stepping out Steering Group

  • Barbara McIlwrath, Eva Kane - Playboard
  • David Tombs - Irish School of Ecumenics
  • Eamonn McCallion - CRIS
  • Eithne McGinley - BELB
  • Eleanor Mearns - NIPPA
  • Kathryn Edgar - CCEA
  • Leish Cox - Chinese welfare Association
  • Mamoun Mobayed - N.I. Muslim Family Association
  • Mathilde Stevens - Barnardo’s
  • Nichola Lynagh - NICIE
  • Norman Richardson - Stranmillis University College
  • Paula Tabakin - Belfast Jewish Community
  • Lekan Abasi - Black Youth Network
  • Rose Ozo - Restoration Ministries
  • Sharada Bhat - Indian Community
  • Shona Borthwick - TIDES training

The Ethnic Minority Group

(Representatives who helped with the pilots; contributed resources; edited texts)

  • Hassan Mansour -N.I. Muslim Family Association
  • Jenny Good; Stella Tsang - Chinese Community
  • JP Singh; Nirmal Kaur -, Sikh Community
  • Kelsang Drolkar - Potala Buddhist Centre
  • Mark Donohue; Jane Holohan - An Munia Tober
  • Rabbi Citron; Cyril Rosenberg - Belfast Jewish Community
  • Sally Taylor - Tashi Khyil Trust and N.I. Inter Faith Forum
  • Marion Khosravi -Baha’i Community

The 'Stepping Out' Piloting Group


  • Cranmore Integrated Primary
  • Forge Integrated Primary
  • Good Shepherd Primary, Poleglass
  • Harmony Primary Belfast
  • Milltown Primary Banbridge
  • Oakwood assessment
  • St Aloysius Lisburn
  • St Joseph’s Lisburn
  • St Joseph’s Slate Street
  • Tullycarnet Primary
  • Whiteabbey Primary

After School Clubs/Play Schemes/Residentials

  • An Droichead, Ormeau Road
  • Ballynafeigh CDA Play scheme
  • Carryduff after School Club
  • Corrymeela Community weekend
  • CWA, Morton Community Centre
  • Edenbrooke after School Club
  • NICEM Family week, Corrymeela
  • Orana after School Club, Newry
  • St Mary’s Barrack Street
  • The Vine Play scheme, Crumlin Road


  • June Neill and Frank McCrea - WELB
  • Shane McDermott - Tibus
  • Richard Naylor


  • Department of Education (Northern Ireland)
  • ISE Trust


1995 - 2001

Drs Joseph Liechty and Cecelia Clegg, Irish School of Ecumenics (ISE), carried out some research in order to better understand sectarianism and ways of moving beyond it. The results of this research and their insights are published in a book, Moving Beyond Sectarianism, (Dublin: Columba Press), Autumn 2001.

2000 – 2001

Yvonne Naylor, ISE worked in partnership with a steering group, piloting schools and youth centres throughout Northern Ireland to produce a resource pack for 14 – 18 year olds, Moving Beyond Sectarianism (Belfast: ISE), August 2001. This resource, available on the ISE website seeks to make available practical, experiential and multi-media resources, appropriate to both school and youth settings, which will facilitate the exploration of some key issues and themes from the research project, Moving Beyond Sectarianism. Craig Sands produced a pack for adults, suitable for sixth form students and older youth, and this pack is also available from the same location on the ISE website. Print copies are still available from ISE Belfast, price £10.00.

2001 – 2003

Yvonne Naylor, ISE worked in partnership with a steering group, piloting schools and youth centres from the South-Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) to produce a resource pack for 9-14 year olds, Who We Are – Dealing with Difference (Belfast: ISE), June 2003. This pack is now also available from the ISE website. A few print copies are still available from ISE Belfast, price £18.00.

2004 – 2007

Yvonne Naylor, SEED project ISE, funded by DENI and ISE Trust worked in partnership with a steering group, piloting schools, after school clubs and play schemes throughout N. Ireland and produced this online resource pack for 5-9 year olds, Stepping Out to:

  • Complete the process of exploring some of the key issues and themes from Moving Beyond Sectarianism with a younger age group;
  • Extend the learning about sectarianism to other distorted expressions of identity and belonging – racism, etc.

Links with the Curriculum

How Stepping Out can contribute to Personal Development and Mutual Understanding at Foundation and Key Stage 1.

Consistent with the Northern Ireland Primary Curriculum, Personal Development and Mutual Understanding is about the development of positive values and attitudes. It is very important that children have an opportunity to develop these naturally as a consequence of their investigations and guided critical reflection on the various issues. Learning therefore needs to be active, with children being encouraged to investigate issues for themselves, to suggest solutions and to make decisions based on what they have learned. The learning experiences provided, need to reflect the context of individual schools and the interests and needs of their students and teachers.

  • Personal Understanding and Health;
  • Mutual Understanding in the Local and Wider Community'

The following outlines suggestions as to how you might use some of the activities from ‘Stepping Out’ and the statutory requirements that they address:

Foundation Stage Statutory Statements

Key Experiences

Children should have opportunities for example, during play, circle time, drama and stories to explore and discuss:

  • themselves and their personal attributes;
  • their own and others feelings and emotions;
  • their relationships with family and friends;
  • their responsibilities for self and others;
  • how to respond appropriately in conflict situations;
  • similarities and differences; and
  • learning to live as a member of a community.

Strand 1 - Personal Understanding and Health

Children should have opportunities for example, during play, circle time, drama and stories to explore and discuss:

  • Circle time work – exploring feelings in relation to diversity and inclusion
  • Contract – practicing skills for dealing with difference in a safe way

Strand 2 - Understanding in the Local and Wider Community

Children should have opportunities for example, during play, circle time, drama and stories to explore and discuss:


  • Grace and Tracey Conflict; Diversity & Inclusion
  • William’s Stories Sectarianism; Loss; Racism - Settled/Traveller;
  • The Tools Interdependence
  • Stories from Different Countries Faiths and Times


  • Chinese New Year
  • Vaisakhi
  • Saga Dawa
  • St Patrick’s Day and The Twelfth
  • Hiroshima Day
  • Ramadan/Eid
  • Festivals of light
  • Diwali
  • Christmas
  • Hanukkah





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Areas of Learning

Religious Education
Personal Development and Mutual Understanding