Church schools have a very special relationship with their local parish(es) and community which dates from their foundation. This family partnership is particularly demonstrated by the school’s Foundation Governors who are a living link between the local church and school and by the incumbent who is both chaplain and governor to the school. Alongside these statutory roles there are many different opportunities for parishes and schools to work together in creative ways including:
1. Church and School pray for each other regularly
2. Establish a Prayer / Support Group for the School which welcomes members from both the school and church communities.
3. Pray for all schools as they appear in the Diocesan Prayer Calendar
4. Plan joint worship occasions between church and school in both places. Churches include the school in special services for Festivals. Explore the possibility that some of these services may be Eucharists.
Establish Education Sunday as a major opportunity for church and school to come together, using material circulated to parishes each year. (Note; Education Sunday has recently moved officially to the beginning of September to coincide with the beginning of the academic year.)
5. Parishioners can join any regular ‘open’ collective worship occasions in school or church to which adults are invited.
6. Establish a core of hymns, song and liturgy that will be used in worship in both church and school. Encourage parish musicians to share their expertise and knowledge, and ,where possible, support music in school and school worship.
7. Explore together the possibility of using elements of Anglican worship in school collective worship. (Diocesan support available)
8. Find ways for lay Christians as well as clergy to share their faith experience in appropriate ways with children in school in RE or Collective Worship. Current RE Syllabuses use an enquiry approach, which makes a representative of a faith community who can answer children’s questions a very welcome visitor in school.
9. Church and school together can organise a church based activity day or weekday “Messy Church” for all the school community. Support visits to the school by “Prayer Spaces in Schools” or initiate a parish based “Open the Book” team to tell Bible stories in school assemblies. Wider afield, encourage the school to join in with events on offer to the Diocesan Family of Schools, e.g. October Cathedral Days, and where possible accompany them on their visit.
10. Explore opportunities within the Extended Schools Agenda to run a Christian club or holiday playscheme. Alternatively, are there other adults who could offer spare time to the school (from painting to hearing children read)?
11 Share and support your parish’s world church links with the school and vice versa. Consider running joint ventures, for example : run a joint Church/ School Christian Aid Week event– give it an educational as well as fund- raising dimension. Organise jointly a Christmas Toy or Shoe-Box Appeal.
12. Offer to run a quiet day for school staff as part of their beginning or end of term professional development days.
13. Encourage a good flow of news through a school page in the parish magazine, church contribution to school newsletter etc. Liaise with school over dates and planning of ‘big events’ (fêtes, fund-raising etc.) – perhaps including some joint events. Encourage the church to be involved in the ‘Friends of the School’ .
14. Ensure that you and your school are aware of and use all the resources available e.g. diocesan , school and church websites. Link church and school websites, and the Diocese!
THE CHURCH (BUILDING AND PEOPLE)
15. Take the initiative in hosting a visit from a school. Encourage some church members to become ‘church hosts’, visiting and meeting children in school prior to a church visit, so that there are friendly known faces. Ensure classes which visit the church are personally and warmly welcomed. Ensure there are friendly church members in church at times when children visit, perhaps simply doing routine tasks. Enable children and staff to meet the living church community as well as look at the churchyard and church building!
16. Preparing for a school visit : Ask church members to be ready to “share their Christian story” when children visit. Devise – perhaps with the school specialists – suitable written materials/ worksheets for when school classes visit – emphasising the Christian journey as well as church features.
17. Have regular displays of school children’s work in church. Invite them in with their families to see these in place.
18. Work with children to make liturgical cloths and banners for the school’s collective worship. These can perhaps be shared with the church.
19. See ministry and support of the school as a whole parish responsibility, not just the job of the clergy.
20. Include the school in the parish Mission Statement and your mission action planning.
21. Encourage people to become school governors – especially Foundation Governors – and make sure they know you value this lay ministry.
22. Ensure there is feedback from Governors and a regular ‘school’ item on the PCC agenda.
23. Co-opt the Headteacher to the PCC (but don’t expect him/her to come each time!).
24. Engender a “culture of affirmation” of the work of the teachers in your local school , and all those involved in the world of education in your local community through public prayer and worship.
25. Nurture vocations to the teaching profession.
If you wish to pursue any of the suggestions above and would like to talk with a member of the Education Team then please contact us using the details supplied.
Together we create: Image by Akira Hojo, Creative Commons, Unsplash.com