At the heart of the Story Tent project is the belief that dialogue around faith stories can help children develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to communicate across religious and cultural barriers – an ability based on Intercultural Communicative Competence.

There is a significant amount of theoretical work already available in the field of religious education and intercultural competence. The Story Tent builds specifically on the model developed by Michael Byram (1997) and subsequent work developed through the Council of Europe’s “Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters” (Council of Europe 2009)

“The Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters has been expressly designed to encourage and foster the development of the relevant cognitive competences which are required to engage effectively with people from other cultural groups and to appreciate the value and benefits of living within culturally diverse societies.” (AIE - Context, concepts and theories, Council of Europe, 2009, p13)

The AIE highlights 10 different competences and it is these competencies that the Story Tent seeks to develop through structured teaching times.

Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC)


Respect for otherness

Shown through curiosity and openness, willingness to decentre and see things from another’s viewpoint.

Acknowledgement of identity

The ability to take full notice of other people’s identities and recognise them for what they are.

Tolerance of ambiguity

The ability to accept ambiguity and lack of clarity and to be able to deal with this constructively.


The ability to project oneself into another person’s perspective and their opinions, motives, ways of thinking and feeling.

Communicative awareness

An ability to recognise different linguistic conventions, and different verbal and non-verbal communication conventions.


Knowledge of social processes, and of illustrations of those processes and products.

Interpreting and relating

The ability to interpret a document or event from another culture, to explain it and relate it to documents or events from one’s own.

Discovery and interaction

The ability to acquire new knowledge of a culture and cultural practices.

Critical cultural awareness

An ability to evaluate critically on the basis of explicit criteria, perspectives, practices and products of one’s own and other cultures.

Action orientation

The willingness to undertake some activity in response to reflection with the aim of making a contribution for the common good.


More information about the work of the AIE can be found on their website, useful links listed below:

Theoretical underpinnings:

Notes for facilitators (For younger learners):

Text cards for interviews (For younger learners):

Online self-study course for educators: