One of our main reasons for being involved in local schools is to help fulfil the desire of local churches to support our local schools.
Volunteers in educational settings can offer support to schools in a variety of ways, the best place to start is to talk to local school leaders and discuss where the volunteers' skills, knowledge and training overlap with the needs of the school.
At Agathos we focus on offering our support within the Christian elements of the curriculum, including Religious Education and Collective Worship, as well as Pastoral Support. Examples of Pastoral work we undertake are
I have received accredited training to deliver SRE support through the Oasis trust, who work closely with government in the development of SRE resources, and education delivery in the UK. I have also trained with the Romance Academy, a Christian organisation which runs 15 week programmes in both community and educational settings to help Young People develop healthy Self Esteem and positive sexual values.
There are many organisations and individuals involved in voluntary work within Educational Settings, and we seek to learn from the practise of others through training events and conferences. We are an Associate Trust of Scripture Union, and work closely with them to develop ideas and strategies for Christian work in Educational Settings across Wales as well as our own area of influence. On our visits to schools, we regularly meet other volunteers, such as governors, parents, ministers, artists and more.
Our strategy for delivering support is to link members of local churches with their local schools and work with them to offer a range of activities and programmes. As well as two paid workers, we have a small team of volunteers, members of local churches, who help to deliver our resources and programmes.
Geographically, we focus on the two secondary schools in Mold, Ysgol Maes Garmon (Welsh language) and the Alun, and their feeder primary schools. We have a regular programme of weekly or bi-weekly Collective Worship assemblies in several of the primary schools and weekly lunchtime and after school groups in the secondary schools. This regular contact with staff and pupils leads to opportunities for additional work such as RE lessons, secondary school assemblies and more. We also have seasonal events each term (Christmas, Easter and Transition themed work) which we invite all schools in our focus area to be involved in. At the start of the school year we contact the schools to advise them of the special events and regular support we offer, giving them the opportunity to plan ahead and invite us to visit if they so wish.
The number of primary schools we work in regularly has doubled over the past two years, which is just one indication of the value that schools place on our support. Our Open the Book assemblies are so popular with pupils that I've had requests to be in my next assembly from children whilst shopping in Tesco! We use feedback forms to evaluate our work, either after a series of lessons such as Bible Explorer or as an overall picture of our work within a school during the school year. The impact of our work can also be measured by the increased attendance of pupils to our church-based clubs, led by my colleague, following assemblies and lessons in a local school.
As we work in both primary and secondary schools, we have the privilege of knowing young people for several years. It is heartening to see the impact of our work over the years in the development of pupils' confidence, knowledge and faith.
See individual post