GOSPORT children got a big surprise when three life-sized fibreglass sheep trotted up to their schools.
Excited pupils at Leesland Infant and Junior Schools got their first chance to look at the sheep during collective worship based around the theme of shepherds.
The schools asked for three sheep as part of an inter-generational initiative across church schools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight called Ewe Matter.
It aims to strengthen links between the schools and their local C of E churches.
Once decorated, the sheep will be taken to Portsmouth and Winchester Cathedrals in July for Leavers’ Services, which are held each year for year six pupils moving on to secondary school.
The sheep can then return to individual schools and will continue to be used.
Worshippers from local churches will come into school to lead collective worship, read with pupils, help in the classroom and share their experiences.
They will be encouraged to use the fibreglass sheep when leading collective worship, especially when telling Biblical stories about sheep.
Teachers will also be able to use the sheep in lessons across the whole curriculum.
The diocesan education team has produced a range of resources linked to all subject areas so that the initiative is embedded in learning as well as being fun.
The Rev Tim Watson, the pioneer minister for the Leesland area and a governor for both Leesland Infant and Junior Schools, led the act of collective worship at which the sheep were revealed.
He said: ‘We have three sheep, which can denote our two schools and the local church. And we have three values at our school, the values of love, grace and respect.
‘Perhaps we could decorate these sheep in that way – one to suggest love, one to suggest grace and one to suggest respect.
Jeff Williams, the director of education for Portsmouth and Winchester’s C of E dioceses, added: We’re really excited about the Ewe Matter initiative.
‘I’ve been so pleased by how enthusiastically students and teachers across the diocese have embraced it.’