The Italian Connection


Last week Together for the Common Good’s partner schools welcomed a group of Italian school children on a week’s visit to Liverpool.

Pupils and teachers from the Scuola Primaria Don Milani were welcomed at a special assembly at Walton Parish Church. Organised by the students from Alsop High School, and the two Church of England Primary schools Arnot St Mary and Kirkdale St Lawrence, the assembly was held in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Mary Rassmussen. Students spoke about their communities, their schools and their desire to “Be the change they want to see.”

Students from Arnot St Mary performed several musical items, accompanied by musicians from their school orchestra. The young people from Modena reciprocated, singing a rendition of the Beatles song Yellow Submarine and Il Viaggio, The Journey.

After the welcome the Italian visitors had a tour of Alsop High School and enjoyed a traditional lunch of fish and chips followed by apple pie and cream. The young people then experienced a lesson in a British school and Alsop students shared some films they had made recently for collective worship. The day concluded with a visit to the school library for afternoon tea, where the school librarian read them a story which was translated by Franca Gambari, a teacher from Don Milani School.

Franca’s association with Liverpool is longstanding. As lead organiser of the trip, she commented: “I first came to Liverpool in 2009 for my research about Liverpool Hope University, the only ecumenical university in Europe. I was deeply hit by the Sheppard-Worlock partnership and by what they did for the common good of the city. I had the privilege of meeting Lady Sheppard and her daughter, Jenny Sinclair. In 2012 I saw the birth of Together for the Common Good (T4CG) and in 2016 I was introduced to Peter Bull. Thanks to Peter, my colleagues and I had the chance to work in partnership with Alsop High School. In 2017 we came to Liverpool for their Faith 17 Festival and since then we have shared videos, photos and cards about our school projects built upon Common Good values. Thanks to Jenny Sinclair and Peter Bull we were introduced to Dave Harrop, Headteacher of St Mary Church of England Primary School, West Derby and two years ago we started a shared project that we decided to call ‘Together We Can’.”

During their time in Liverpool the Italian visitors toured Anfield Stadium and the Beatles Museum. They also enjoyed a lesson on the common good with Jo Stow, T4CG’s Project Leader for Common Good Schools. Jo joined the Italians for a walk along Hope Street as they visited both cathedrals. Alan Matthews, Chair of the Friends of Liverpool Cathedral led the group in a tour of the Angilcan cathedral.

The young people stayed at Hope Park, Hope University’s main campus, enjoying its grounds and three talks were arranged for them. The first was by Dr Wendy Bignold about studying at Liverpool Hope, then the second was by Willem Toet, a Ferrari aerodynamics engineer, on the importance of teamwork for the common good. And the third was given by Jenny Sinclair, about the “Mersey Miracle”, the joint twenty-two year partnership between her late father, David Sheppard, and the late Archbishop Worlock.

The Don Milani young people spent a day with the children at St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, West Derby. They played together in person, having first met several times via joint lessons conducted over Zoom over the previous year. An international England v Italy football tournament was arranged. St Mary’s PTA provided sandwiches and cakes. The trip was rounded off by a wonderful day out at West Kirby beach, a walk along the promenade and a visit to the Sisters of Jesus Way for tea.

Franca continued:

“Thank you for making our young people so welcome. We love Liverpool, not only because it’s a very beautiful city, but also for the values fostered here and testified. Over the years, we have learned to know this is an international and ecumenical city and we are deeply impressed by the commitment of its people to promoting the Common Good principles. We are delighted to visit again and share activities with our friends in the four schools. We are so grateful. We, the teachers and pupils from Modena, will remember this visit forever.”

Peter Bull, Co-ordinator of Together We Can comments:

“We were so privileged to host our Italian colleagues and their group of amazing young people. We greatly value these international bonds of friendship and we hope that the links with Don Milani School will continue to prosper and grow.” 

Jo Stow, T4CG’s Project Leader for Common Good Schools adds:

“It was a joy to meet Franca and everyone from Don Milani School. What an attentive group of young people! We enjoyed lunch together and learned about the common good. I told them a story about two friends from our Common Good Schools programme. In the story, one friend needed the assistance of a wheelchair and one did not. The children reflected on the dignity and worth of each person and how everyone has something different to offer that helps the whole community flourish. The children enjoyed identifying the common good principles and applying them to their own experiences.”

Jenny Sinclair, founder director of Together for the Common Good comments:

“Our young Italian visitors impressed me so much with their curiosity and joyful care for each other. They asked excellent questions too: their parents and teachers should be very proud. This trip was completely bespoke, quite unlike a tourist package deal: every element was the result of genuine relationship and friendship. It was a privilege to help Franca realise her vision – she overcame many obstacles to achieve this and her determination was unwavering. The importance for young people of building meaningful human connections cannot be overstated. As the corrosive impact of individualism and technocracy continues to degrade our common life, it is vital that we intentionally work together for the common good.”

Jenny Sinclair, Jo Stow, Peter Bull, Franca Gambari

Click here for a free sample pack of the Common Good Schools resource to try at your school.

Do you have a link with your local school? Are you a parent, student, teacher, senior leader, director of an academy trust, trustee or governor? We find the best way to engage is via a personal introduction. Please get in touch with Jo if you could help facilitate an introduction.

For more details about the Common Good Schools programme, contact Jo Stow at or 07886 240 685