Local leaders and representatives from schools, churches and charities came together for the East Northants’ Faith Group Community Leaders’ Lunch to reflect on how to ‘Love Your Local School’. Keynote speaker, Chad Chadwick, a Youth Missioner for the Church of England challenged attendees to think strategically about the way they partner with their local schools and seek to “serve them from the inside-out”. He shared on the scale of change in society over the last 20 years, particularly within the education system, and highlighted the increasing weight of pressure upon the whole school community, including parents, students and teachers.
“Despite the many challenges facing young people in sub-cultures that are all too often “broken, toxic and hollow”. We need to be really positive about the “beautiful, true and real” messages of hope that our Churches, Charities and Community organisations can contribute in partnership with our local schools”, Chad said.
“We need to learn to love our local schools sincerely through words and actions of genuine service, rather than impose our ideas and agendas onto schools that are already buckling under a great deal of pressure. Unprecedented levels of cooperation and partnership are required to make this happen effectively.”
“We must listen carefully, be committed, make connections and care deeply about individuals if we are to form vibrant, positive and effective partnerships with our schools.”
Caroline Howe, Assistant Head Teacher at The Ferrers School, and Patrick Barker, Associate Minister at Park Road Baptist Church explained how the relationship between the school and local churches had developed through listening.
“It has become increasing difficulties to access support for students, especially those needing help with a range of issues outside that of the school curriculum”, said Caroline.
“There isn’t always the time available for teachers to offer students the opportunity to sit down and have a general chat. We were therefore looking for support from churches and the local community.”
Following a number of meetings between the school and the local churches plans were drawn up to create a safe space where students could talk openly about what’s going on in their life, and they could find appropriate support. Sessions are now run weekly at the school on Monday lunchtimes by volunteers from local churches in Rushden and Higham Ferrers.
Caroline explained, “Although it’s very early days, we are already seeing encouraging signs, with a number of students increasing in confidence. We are very excited and optimistic about the future and really looking forward to further developing our work with local churches and community groups.”
For further information about ENFG, Community Leaders Lunches or the work with schools please contact Nick Amis at firstname.lastname@example.org.