Friendship is an undisputed value in our society, with children and teenagers often spending more time with their friends than with their family.

Jesus was criticised for being ‘the friend of sinners’ and eating with those whom society rejected, he also chose his disciples from groups that other religious leaders of the day would not even have spoken to!  Jesus knew that friends should be chosen for who they are, not what they are!  Jesus explicitly calls his disciples not servants but friends (John chapter 15 verses 14 – 15).

Sharing a meal with someone is an explicit sign of friendship and the word ‘companion’ literally means ‘one with whom you share bread.’  Meals figure heavily in the Bible as times of fellowship and friendship, and Jesus particularly tells stories of the heavenly banquet to which all are invited. At the banquet the apparent barriers between people are broken down in a loving community around God Himself,  and Jesus had stern words to say to those who refused to recognise that all people are included in this community of friendship, not just the “worthy”.  This friendship community is echoed in the Eucharist, where all are welcome.  The Bible has many sayings about friendship:

  • ‘A friend loves at all times.’ (Proverbs 17:17)
  • Friends are not afraid to tell each other the truth and a friend’s loving criticism is worth more than the empty compliments of someone who does not really care for you. (Proverbs 27:6)
  • ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’ (Proverbs 27:6)
  • The writer of Ecclesiastes puts it very simply: ‘if one falls down, a friend can lift him up’. (Ecclesiastes 4:10)

True friendship enables each person to grow and ensures that the unique individuality of each person is recognised.  Friendship is all about trust, feeling comfortable in each other’s company, and being able to share joys and sorrows. We value our friends—and this is an echo of the value placed by God on each person as His friend.

Friendship in School

Ethos

  • Children often fall in and out of friendships—are they given strategies for making and retaining relationships?
  • How are those who find it difficult to make friends supported e.g. friendship benches, playground buddies?
  • How do older pupils support younger pupils in the school?
  • How are new children or staff included in the school?
  • Are relationships in the classrooms good?
  • Are relationships in the staffroom good?
  • What are the signs that your school is a friendly school? Is this everyone’s experience from the moment they enter your building or you pick up the phone?

Worship

  • Are friendship ties created through worship e.g. sitting as “family groups”?
  • Does worship convey the possibility of friendship / a relationship with God?
  • How are people helped to reflect upon the demands and responsibilities of friendship?

Curriculum

  • Do class reading books model sound friendship relationships and / or promote discussion on relationships?
  • Do pupils co-operate well in class and support each other?
  • Are there opportunities to explore relationships in a Christian context?
  • What opportunities are there to build friendships with other schools both locally and abroad? How do you work with your cluster of schools and / or your local secondary school?

Leadership

  • How does a leader in school show themselves to be friendly and approachable, whilst at the same time maintaining the necessary professional distance?
  • How do leaders and governors offer constructive criticism in a way that ensures it is both given and received without animosity and in a spirit of friendship?
  • What structures are there in place to support new children and new staff as they enter the school?