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Schools and churches share a common concern - they want the best for our young people. The church has always had considerable involvement in education. Even today, almost a third of the schools in the country are church schools. But as schools in general have developed closer links with the community, that partnership has been emphasised even more.
So how are schools and churches linked? People are the main and most obvious way. Many people in churches also go to school every day as teachers or pupils. But there are others for whom school is their place of work - secretaries, classroom assistants, learning mentors. Alongside them are others whose job gives them contact with schools: nurses, librarians, inspectors and so on.
Increasingly, many others take on a role in school in a voluntary capacity: governors, Parent-Teacher Association members, assembly teams, and others in a wide variety of roles.
All of these people are called by God to be his visual aid in the schools in which he has placed them. They are God's people in their schools, demonstrating in word and deed the difference that Jesus makes.
All of those people face different pressures. If they are going to be effective as Christians in their schools, it's important that their churches help them face those pressures. Find out who the people in your church are who are involved with schools and talk about these questions with them:
Their responses should leave you able to think imaginatively about how your church can provide them with help and support.
Prayer is the most obvious starting point. Do you pray for schools in your services, home and cell groups, and mid-week meetings? Some groups meet to pray specifically for schools - find out about ones near you or consider starting one.
Everyone values encouragement. Christian pupils need encouragement to live out their faith at school - and they also need practical help to do it. Meeting together in school can be a great help, but they will need support to do so. Teachers need encouragement too. Knowing that someone is interested counts for a lot. Why not interview them during a service about their work in school, and include them regularly on the prayer list?
If your church has people in school, they are part of your missionary work. If you have displays for the missionaries you support, why not include those involved in mission at home, including schools and people in other areas of work? All of us are called to ministry whether or not we are called missionaries!
But don't restrict your encouragement to Christians. People are often quick to criticise schools, and slow to recognise the good. Christians can be different here and a note or phone call praising a school can mean a lot.
Schools always need good resources. High quality Christian resources can make a real difference, particularly to Collective Worship and Religious Education. You could offer to buy Christian books for the library or the curriculum. The Stapleford Centre has a partnership scheme for churches wanting to buy books for schools. Their focus is on teaching about Christianity, as well as spiritual development in other areas of the curriculum. For details of the Stapleford Centre partnership scheme, contact them via email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
Scripture Union have several resources designed to help children with transition onto school; from primary to secondary school, and moving on from school. See the School Transition section for more details.
Many churches have facilities which can be shared with schools. Class visits to churches are a common part of RE, and some churches have developed interesting programmes for these visits. Again, offering church buildings for special services at Harvest, Christmas and Easter is a good way to support local schools. For more information see the Making Church & School Links pages.
Scripture Union also provide materials to aid the running of groups in primary and secondary schools. For information on our re:source and SupaClubs materials, please see the Resources section.
The Christians who go to school every day are not the only ones who have a part to play. Schools positively encourage the involvement of people from the community, and there are many roles they can play. Here are a few which people in your church might be able to take up:
Although schools are keen to receive help from the wider community, they are, first and foremost, places of education run by professionals. The most effective way to be involved is to support the needs of the school and build up a relationship over time. Never use an invitation to overstep what is acceptable educationally.
Want to know more?
Contact the regional team near you Top Tips series and for more ideas see our book Top Tips on Developing partnerships between Church and School in our online shop
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