Meet the BRF Barnabas in Schools team

Below is a team profile for each member of the Barnabas in Schools team.

Who are the schools team?

They all:

  • are committed Christians from within a variety of recognised mainstream Christian churches across the country.
  • hold current DBS disclosures that are regularly updated.
  • represent an incredibly diverse pool of talent, incorporating drama, dance, music, mime and storytelling.
  • are experienced at working with children in a variety of capacities - many of the team have backgrounds in primary teaching.
  • are committed to respecting and nurturing the personal spirituality of every child, whatever their background of faith and belief. BRF supports and endorses the voluntary Practice Code for Teachers of RE as presented by the RE Council of England and Wales.
Jane Butcher

Jane Butcher

Jane has worked with BRF since 2007 and is a member of the Barnabas in Schools team. She had previously been a children's worker in a large church in Birmingham and before that in a church in the USA. Having originally trained as a teacher, she moved into church ministry some 15 years ago and has a broad range of experience. 

Jane has a BEd (Hons), having trained as a secondary school teacher and taught RE and PE in a city secondary school. Since leaving teaching, she has continued to be involved with schools as a governor and in leading collective worship across a wide range of church and non-church schools. 

Training has been a key part of Jane's work over recent years. She has led training for many schools, churches, Dioceses and Christian colleges covering many aspects of RE and children's ministry. She also leads training on Faith in Homes and Messy Church, and is an accredited Godly Play teacher. 

Jane has organised and led: 

  • a team of 40+ volunteers working within children's ministry in a church setting.
  • themed all-age holiday clubs for churches and interactive journeys through festivals.

She has also initiated and developed creative and interactive ways of telling Bible stories.

Chris Hudson

Chris Hudson

Chris is an experienced primary teacher, subject leader and educational author, mostly working in the North-East of England.

He's had 22 years' experience of teaching in a range of primary schools. As a subject leader, he has worked hard at making RE a subject that non-specialists can teach with integrity and confidence, and as a member of school management team, has endeavoured to create assemblies that stimulate, challenge and provoke reflection. 

As a published educational author, he has 17 commissioned books to date, and has created a wide range of material for educational websites.

Chip Colquhoun

Chip Colquhoun

Chip leads Barnabas RE Days in and around East Anglia. He is one of the founding partners of Snail Tales (

Chip is one of the storytellers for the Oxford Reading Tree, and has led storytelling performances and workshops in seven different countries. He wrote the EU’s guidance on using storytelling in the classroom, as well as five national theatre tours funded by Arts Council England and three children’s books available from all good bookshops – including Who Made England, published by The History Press. His Barnabas RE Days may feature puppetry, song, magic or all three, but they will always be engaging, energising and involve plenty of joining in!

Jane Lewis

Jane Lewis

Jane joined the Barnabas in Schools team in September 2012. She currently works for the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham as Diocesan Schools Adviser, supporting church schools with RE, collective worship and all things that help contribute to a church school ethos. Jane originally trained as a secondary school RE teacher and spent 13 years teaching RE in secondary schools in Doncaster and Nottingham before moving to her current post. As her role in the diocese is part-time, it leaves opportunity to work in other areas too, and for a number of years now she has worked for half a day per week teaching RE in an infant school.

Educator and Trainer

Training is a key part of Jane’s work since leaving teaching. She leads training for church schools covering many aspects of RE and worship in schools. Her work as RE teacher for half a day a week in an infant school keeps her well rooted in the reality of teaching and communicating with children.

Jane is also an accredited Godly Play Teacher. She leads sessions for both KS1 and KS2 children at Southwell Minster’s award winning Time Travelling days. Her book Exploring the Role of Godly Play in the Church Primary School was published by Grove Books in 2014.

Children's and Youth Leader

Jane leads the Messy Church in her home church in Nottingham, taking particular responsibility for leading the worship. She is also Regional Coordinator for Nottinghamshire Messy Churches.

Jane Whittington

Jane Whittington

Jane joined the Barnabas in Schools team in January 2012 having previously been a primary teacher in Surrey. She has been involved in developing creative approaches to teaching RE while meeting the requirements of the syllabus. In her last school she worked with Orison and Prayer Spaces in Schools to develop reflective prayer spaces for the children. These ideas are now being developed in schools across the country.

Jane has a B.Ed. (Hons) and MA in early years and primary education and has taught reception through to year six. The last twelve years of her teaching career were as a head teacher. A Surestart children’s centre was opened during her time at one school. For most of her teaching career, Jane has been the RE subject leader and has worked on implementing agreed syllabuses. Jane currently works as part of the Guildford Diocesan Education Team supporting schools as they teach RE and lead collective worship.

In her church Jane has organised and led a team of volunteers to start a Messy Church and other all-age events.

Jane’s work with adults has involved leading an interactive Good Friday meditation for all ages, a course called ‘What shall we tell the children?’ for parents who wanted help answering their child’s difficult questions. She has also led staff INSET sessions on children’s spiritual development.

John Hardwick

John Hardwick

Based in Cambridgeshire, John primarily covers Barnabas RE Days in East Anglia. He works under the banner of 'Counties' and 'Children Worldwide' to present the Christian message in an exciting non-confessional way, which appeals to children of all ages. Equally well received in schools and churches, John is a bit like a modern jester, juggling, singing and telling stories. He co-set up GeneR8 teams, which are schools teams in over 100 primary schools in Cambridgeshire.

John leads creative communications training events for those involved in children's ministry and all-age services. His workshops include key areas such as storytelling and presenting the Bible through music. He also organises sessions for worship leaders, family and all-age services, and holiday clubs. John is a familiar face at Spring Harvest, Easter People and other Christian events, where he leads family and children's sessions. 

John is an accomplished musician and composer. He has several popular resources to his name, including CDs, DVDs and music books. His bouncy songs and memorable lyrics leave a lasting impression. 

John's lively and inspiring Bible-based talks and workshops have been described as energetic, excellent, entertaining, practical and constructive. 

John is well known for the holiday club programmes he devises and field-tests with hundreds of children throughout the UK. He has written ten holiday club resources for Barnabas.

Joy Howell

Joy Howell

Joy has been involved with children all of her working life, mostly in formal education. She trained as a primary teacher, specialising in RE, but during her 16 years in education she has taught every primary year group from Reception to Year 6, and children from a range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

In her role as Deputy Headteacher, Joy coordinated collective worship for many years before becoming Headteacher of a church school. Joy led the school choir for about 10 years and was responsible for numerous Christmas and Easter productions, carol services and other special events, as well as the day-to-day worship, music and RE.

Outside of school, Joy has always been involved in children's work in her local church, leading teams of volunteers running children's and all-age Christian events. She regularly uses drama as an effective way to communicate and, as well as performing herself, has also led drama workshops for children and adults. Joy has a passion for storytelling and involves the children in ways that will help them to engage and remember what they have heard.

Lisa Debney

Lisa Debney

Based in West Yorkshire, Lisa leads Barnabas RE Days across Yorkshire. She trained in dance at Surrey University and has an MA with distinction in Arts Education with Leeds University, where her dissertation focused on the role of the arts in children's spiritual development. She has a keen interest in the written word and has work included in anthologies produced by Wild Goose, the publishing house of the Iona Community. Lisa also works closely with Ilkley Playhouse as a performer, co-director and choreography/movement coach.

Lisa has experience of teaching a wide age-range of children and has worked in schools and preschools as a freelance artist and dancer. She has also taught GCSE dance and provided workshops for secondary schools. She currently works at a local primary school with KS1 and 2 as a dance and drama provider and has worked with this particular primary school for over six years.

Lisa has led workshops at Christian dance and arts conferences, as well as diocesan training days. She has also co-led dance workshops at Spring Harvest.

Lisa has taught Sunday school for many years, working with groups of all ages. As part of this work, she hs led worship, performed in and fronted holiday clubs, and devised drama events and family services. She has also coordinated youth exhibitions and creative worship events.

Debbie Cottrell

Debbie Cottrell

Debbie has worked in education all her professional life. She has taught across all key stages and served diverse communities in a her long and varied career. Debbie has used her passion for storytelling and experience of leading English in a range of schools. She has also worked with bilingual support services and has used her experience as a consultant for Assessment for Learning to inform her work with children and school communities.

Most recently as a church school head teacher, Debbie has experience shaping ethos and values, which she does with creativity and enthusiasm. She coordinated collective worship and oversaw the embedding of the school values in the life of the school.

Her background is in music and drama and she has produced many Christmas, Easter and end-of-year productions. As well as performing herself, she has coached a number of choirs in schools and in her church community.