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Going above and beyond

‘Children are more likely to hear a bible story at school than either at home or church!’ David Skinner of the Baptist Education Group highlights the importance of connecting with schools ahead of Education Sunday

ChildAsked where they have ever had a bible story read to them, 455, more than half the 8-15 year olds polled, answered school, compared to 285 at home or 182 at church. 

And it’s really no surprise. The Biblos project, an earlier more detailed research project produced by the Bible Society, found that even higher levels of students awareness of the bible, were derived from RE and Collective Worship in school.

Education Sunday (16 February) is a great occasion to celebrate all that happens in schools. So why not create an opportunity to discover from the pupils and staff in your church, what they enjoy and appreciate in the breath of school life? Seize the moment to celebrate their achievements and take time to encourage and pray for them!

The pressure on schools and colleges grows and the norm is that most staff will be ‘going above and beyond’ to support the learning and flourishing of their students. So try to connect with your local school directly. Find a way to let the staff know you are praying for them. An appreciative card and a cake for the staff room rarely miss the mark but the offer of a discussion about a deeper relationship may also be welcomed.

The breadth of engagement and partnership that churches and schools are finding around the country continues to grow.

There are many successful approaches for churches to connect with both student and local school. 8,500 volunteers deliver regular ‘Open the Book’ assemblies in over 1500 schools.

The RE:quest initiative offers a brilliant on-line resource for students and staff and 20,000 choose this way to research the subject each month. REinspired is one dynamic approach to supporting students to ‘learn about’ and ‘learn from’ Christians and their faith, which is experienced by thousands of students. Hundreds of ‘Prayer Spaces’ have been created in schools across the country. 

Schoolswork.co.uk offers a national resource and contact point to all who visit schools. Across the country there are dozens of projects where youngsters receive mentoring at school from Christian volunteers, and churches are also throwing their support to projects like FAST which aims to make a difference for students and their families who are most disadvantaged. And ... there is just so much more that could be mentioned.

Of course all these initiatives should be celebrated alongside the relationships with schools, which so many churches steadily develop through engaging assembly work and chaplains build with Further and Higher Education  students.

The ‘Going above and beyond’ resources for Education Sunday take their theme from the centenary anniversary of the First World War. In a different sense, to build and maintain such relationships always means ‘Going above and beyond’ the edge of church life and represents a sacrificial gift of time. But the local school is the one place where you will usually find every part of your local community represented and to engage there is to find a unique opportunity to make Jesus known.

Reflected in the diversity and development of these strategies there is journey that is taking place nationally. This Education Sunday we’d encourage you to renew the relationships you have with your local schools and colleges. If you’d like some fresh guidance on how to be a good visitor to school then there are some excellent new guidelines from the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (11).

The Revd David Skinner is a member of the Baptist Education Group

Baptist Times, 12/02/2014
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