An innovative high-impact project designed to engage young minds on the difficult subject of immigration via an illustrated story book, accompanied by a set of teaching resources.

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About the project

The Boat is an Arts Council-funded project aiming to engage young minds on the difficult subject of immigration. It does this via an innovative illustrated story book accompanied by a carefully designed set of teaching resources.

The project is a collaboration between Andrew Melrose, Professor of Children’s Writing, Jonathan Rooke, Senior Lecturer in Education, and illustrator Stephanie Morris (background image).

First piloted in four Hampshire partner schools with the benefit of a University of Winchester Learning & Teaching Fellowship, the project has since gone from strength to strength. It has attracted Arts Council for England funding as well as considerable media attention. 

A teaching resource pack has been produced for Key Stages 2 and 3 (ages 8 - 11). Using the story as a springboard, the pack contains exercises to help children engage with the experiences of refugees, in addition to developing their comprehension skills of empathy, questioning, inference, evaluation and creativity.

At the project's formal launch in October 2017, limited-edition copies of the book and screen prints of the illustrations were on sale, with all proceeds going to the Rural Refugee Network.

All resources and a text edition of The Boat Story are freely available via the project website; visit the The Boat website.

2018-19 developments

  • The project is currently working with 400+ Hampshire schools on 'The Next Page'. As the book is open-ended, pupils at these schools have been asked to write the next chapter in the book. Find out more.
  • Read Prof. Melrose's May 2019 article highlighting some of the critical issues he has encountered in creating the project.
  • Various UK and international universities have expressed interest in a joint project, with the possibility of turning the story into a film.