God in children’s work at school
Just like many adults, young people spend a large proportion of their day 'at work'; school, A place where, similarly to adults, they attend for set hours, meet and interact with peers, complete tasks, learn skill sets, are encouraged to develop and undergo regular review. We asked four people from across the Diocese to share what they do as Christians in supporting young people in schools.
Kathryn Wright is Religious Education (RE) Adviser for the Diocese of Norwich. Her role as an education professional means she works across the region with many schools and teachers and aims to help them deliver quality teaching to young people.
“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about RE in schools! I was very fortunate to have an inspiring RE teacher myself, and this has had a huge impact on my career. My own Christian faith also inspires me. For me at the heart of the Christian faith is a sense that we must draw alongside others – particularly the vulnerable, understand and appreciate one another, and welcome all, as Jesus himself did.
“RE provides opportunities for pupils to learn about others, what motivates others and shapes their lives. Understanding the diverse expressions of what it means to be a Christian today is one aspect of this, however, it is so important to engage with and learn from other religions and worldviews so that young people understand others (of all faith and beliefs) in our world today.
“My role in the Diocese is to support and advise teachers, governors and others working with schools to help ensure that RE is a priority within the curriculum, and that effective teaching and learning takes place. In the last year we have been rolling out a new resource called Understanding Christianity (RE Today Services). When teachers feedback comments such as, ‘I think this will impact on RE teaching dramatically in my school’, or ‘This course has boosted my confidence as a teacher’, it makes my job very worthwhile.“
The Revd James Monro, Assistant Priest, at St. Edmund’s, Hunstanton brings a slightly different emphasis to school’s work as part of an ecumenical team outreaching to young people. James explains: “I have been going into Smithdon High School in Hunstanton for almost three years now as part of an ecumenical team. We take assemblies and run Identity, an after-school club with a definite Christian ethos. It’s a fun time with food and games, but with a lower pupil-adult ratio than in class, it’s possible to give the young people more of a listening ear than the teaching staff can.
“One needy young man on the brink of exclusion turned out to be our most 17 regular attender – and never was excluded during his time at Smithdon. His improved behaviour was not unnoticed and had a positive effect on our relationship with the school. This means that we are now poised, with the support of the head teacher, to also start Soul-food, a lunch time meeting along the lines of a Christian See over the page for some useful resources for supporting young people in school. Union, with lots of food for growing bodies. Many of our young people, especially those from broken homes, need a neutral adult to share their worries with. Hunstanton needs a safe place for its youth, and by popular demand Identity is about to open on Friday evenings in St. Edmund’s church hall, as a more informal drop-in café.“
The issue James highlights, that young people sometimes just need to chat to an adult with a listening ear, is something keenly felt in many schools. A more formal approach to this can be the role of School Chaplaincy, something the Revd Peter Leech, Rector of the Yare Valley Churches, is involved with.
“Supporting and equipping young people to be able to live out their faith in their world is perhaps one of the most important roles for the church today. We recognise that life is not always easy for Christians who are within a school context, particularly those who live and go to church in rural contexts.
“I belong to the chaplaincy team that operates within Thorpe St Andrew School. The team is ecumenical in its make-up and is supported by a large number of local churches. The team works within the school once a week and seeks to support Christians within the school context as well as engage with others who may be exploring the Christian faith for the first time.
“Providing a space where young people can talk and know they are listened to, providing an opportunity for young people to explore some of the challenging questions and situations they encounter every day from a Christian view point as well encouraging young people as they grow as leaders. One day, we asked “What would you say to Jesus if he walked in the room?“ One young person response: “I’d ask why he allowed my gran to die.“ A difficult question, but one which led into a most amazing discussion about suffering in our world and God’s love.“
Catherine Adams offers another dimension to this student support in her role employed as the Head of Student Support at Archbishop Sancroft High School, Harleston. “I feel extremely privileged to be working with children and young people between the ages of nine and 16 years. I have an office in the ‘heart’ of the school, with an open door, sofas, tea and plenty of tissues! And because I am a full-time, nonteaching member of staff I can be ready for anything that may come my way!
“I am available to cover a wide variety of issues to support students and their families at home, in school or both. I enjoy working hard at ASHS to ensure the safety and happiness of everyone and am proud to be a part of this community. One key area of my role is the transition process from primary to high school. Our transition programme starts in the autumn term of Year 5, because we really want the children to feel ready for their next big step.
“The care and support I provide is based on Christian values that I hold dear and those that ASHS prides itself on and I was delighted that our recent SIAMS inspection (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools) judged us to be an outstanding Church School. I feel that what we offer here helps our young people develop a stronger sense of wellbeing and confidence as a member of our school and the wider community.“
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God at work
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Loitering with Godly intent
Archdeacon Karen explores chaplaincy in the workplace.More
Loving and serving the Lord in the workplace
Audrey Sharp discusses the challenge of living out our Christian faith actively and intentionally in the workplace.More
Face to Faith – Stephen Andrews
Stephen is a workplace chaplain in Great Yarmouth to Asda, NORSE, Camplings Linen Services and the Borough Services. He is also a Trust Chaplain at the James Paget University Hospital and is an associate priest in the Great Yarmouth Team Ministry.More
Making Christ present – Being chaplain to the police
Fr Christopher Wood talks about his roles as Chaplain to Norfolk Constabulary and to people bereaved by suicide.More
Spiritual health in times of illness
Helen Garrard is Lead Chaplain to Colman and Norwich Community Hospitals. The role has grown to incorporate providing and managing chaplaincy care in 10 community hospitals within the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.More
A night out with Norwich Street Partnership: City Pastors
8.30pm on a Saturday evening in mid-November. No glitzy shoes or sparkly top for my night out: solid walking boots and layers of warm clothes. Then it's time to go through the city, looking and listening to the hustle and various groups who are setting off for celebrations.More
A very modern ministry: chaplaincy
At a time when our society seems increasingly dominated by secular habits and assumptions, and when religious attendance and affiliation seems to be in decline, chaplaincy remains a public face of faith in a variety of situations. Chris Copsey takes a look at this diverse ministry in Norfolk and Waveney.More