Meeting Years 4 and 5 pupils at Gilbert Scott School, South Croydon.


Ask a young mind to turn towards a subject and express itself in words, pictures, songs and rhymes. The results, more often than not, may be delightful, uninhibited, honest or sobering, but they are always an insight into the deep, unencumbered wisdom that all children possess. It is our job as grown-ups not just to ask these tricky questions, but also to listen – really listen – without attaching our own filters, prejudices or sense of occasion to their responses. It happens all too often that we grown-ups feel the need to patronise children’s responses to such questions because of their simplicity, or re-calibrate and interpret them because of their innocence.


After reading ‘Seven for a Secret’, a visionary head of Primary School, Gillian Gandolfo, asked if we could explore the message of positive grieving with a much younger age group at her school, The Gilbert Scott Junior School in South Croydon. We spent a wonderful day with around seventy 8-10 year olds, reading extracts from ‘Seven for a Secret’ and discussing their thoughts on what dying means to them at their age. We devised a worksheet based on a well known rhyme about magpies which we worked through during the day and created pictures on various aspects of their thoughts.


When we tackled the subject of dying, grieving, how it comes about, where we might go when we die, how we feel when we lose a loved one, and what it might mean, these 8 and 9 year olds didn’t respond in any anticipated way. They couldn’t; each response was as individual as the soul that produced it, and these pages are the reflection of their visions.


The following, in words and pictures represents a sample of what we discovered together. Click here (650KB) for their heart-warming responses to the worksheet.


JMW September 2008

  A selection of pictures produced on the day:  

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