Today's blog post is about the 3 days I spent up in Sheffield with "Scripture Union" on a schools work training course. I suppose the best place to start would be at the beginning, After being told about the training I was more then happy to go on the three days, but as I don't drive there was a transport issue... take the train for £60 and have a relaxed 2 hour journey OR only pay £20 and get up at 5am for the National Express coach which would take 5 hours to get to Sheffield... from Chester! And so faced with the challenge I did what any 'still living at home, car-less, studying intern' would do...
Agathos is an Associate Trust of Scripture Union England and Wales, which means we have a great network of co-workers to share ideas with and be supported by. SU also provide us with valuable organisational advice and great resources.
Earlier this week I visited SU HQ in Bletchley for a 2-day Schools Ministry Forum which was extremely valuable. It was great to hear from workers with decades of experience as Christians supporting schools, and also to hear the latest thinking and challenges that the ever-changing Education System presents. The session were creative, interactive and full of inspiration. Working in schools varies in so many ways from other Christian youth work, and it's very encouraging to be able to pray, discuss and learn with others who minister in similar settings and are familiar with the structures, regulations and needs of educational settings.
We discussed legislation, resource development, quirky ideas, successes and failures, the rise of chaplaincy and much more. Oh, and drank lots of tea and coffee, of course!
The only downside - over two hours of delays on the motorways!
written by Wendy Swan
As part of the school's Anti-Bullying week, I was invited to lead a Refuge space for three days at Bryn Gwalia school last month.
Each class in the school, from Nursery to Year 6, visited Refuge for a lesson. The lesson involved discussions about prayer, a craft activity and six interactive stations where the pupils could spend as much time as they wanted.
I love a good film. Especially one that challenges worldviews and attitudes, has layers of meaning ("ogres are like onions.....") and has characters that energise and inspire. Add in some mind-blowing special effects, great music and popcorn and I'm a happy girl. Many of my favourites have moments or whole-movie themes that are inspiring , moving and uplifting.
Unfortunately, there's also a huge amount of negative, sexualised, self-esteem destroying trash saturating the viewing of children and young people that often leaves me wanting to destroy every screen I can. I believe that media can do great harm but also great good ("with great power comes great responsibility..."), and whatever your personal stance on viewing, I'm sure we all agree that children and young people are easily captivated and influenced by the media they consume.
So I love to take themes from great films, tv and well-known stories to illustrate my assemblies, to introduce themes and stimulate discussion in lessons and show how deeply embedded in culture are many Biblical themes - love, hope, good, evil, kindness and more.
This week we led what is probably my favourite assembly - Samson and Delilah. I've added a line for the benefit of the staff - as Delilah begs the mighty Samson to reveal the secret of his super-human strength, he bangs his fist and cries 'Oh why why why Delilah, must you nag me so much?!'
Gets a giggle from the staff every time. One headteacher apologized after the assembly for laughing so loud - she had such a fit of giggles she had to bite on her jumper to get control!
This year, our volunteers Steph and Nia played the dysfunctional couple, and did a fantastic job too. Steph struggled a little with his comic timing, and we were shocked to learn that he didn't know the song at all, even when we sang it for him in the school hall!
What kind of music do they play down in London?
So here's the video, as part of Steph's cultural edication, and for everyone who now has the song playing in their head
I hope you had a great summer and enjoyed the wonderful weather either holidaying abroad or here in Wales. I'm not sure there was much difference to be honest. The months are quickly passing by, and the nights are drawing in far too quickly. Here's an update on what I (Arawn) am up to this term with the Welsh churches and schools in Flintshire.
I'll begin with the older youth - our Tuesday evening studies have relocated to Costa, Mold from 6-7 pm. We've been using the Alpha 'Big Questions of Life' resource, but have now moved on to the excellent resource 'Prodigal God' by Timothy Keller. It looks at the parable of the Prodigal Son over six short sessions, which raise a number of worthy questions from the Gospel of Luke.
The first six weeks of term have gone by in a flash! (says Wendy)
Our non-formal work in the high schools is going really well again this term. It's great to have two new placement workers involved in schools with us; Nicola helping with the Rock Solid nurture group in the Alun, and Steph who joins Nicola and I for Xplore, our drop-in sessions around the school. Xplore usually takes place in the Faith Garden, but on wet days we engage with pupils in their classes and in the hallways. We usually have a game going on, with reflective activities and space to 'Pause for Thought' too.
There's a hole in our hearts.... We're really missing our Interns Hannah and Ben who are now settling in to University. Wendy in particular is really lost without Hannah's brain to download to, and is amazed she hasn't lost all her props by now!
Hannah was our first full-time intern, and Ben worked with us for a day or two a week. We miss their ideas and energy, the banter in the office, studying the Word together and most of all their hard working servant hearts. Hannah's gone on to study Physics at Southampton and Ben is studying Theology at London School of Theology. Who knew they were such brainiacs? They hid it so well....*
Author: Wendy Swan
*this is a joke. Both interns dazzled us with their wit and intellect
We are invited guests in our local schools and must always work within the policies and procedures of those schools.
Anyone who listens to the news is most likely aware that the world of education is constantly changing. This can have an impact on our work, as we always work within the policies and procedures of the schools we support. Will RE be dropped from the curriculum? Will Collective Worship still be a requirement in all schools? What if my local school has to form a cluster with other schools and comes under the control of a Headteacher who does not support our work?
In my experience, schools place a high value on the support they receive from volunteers. The beginnings may be very small - one assembly to speak about Christmas or Easter from a Christian perspective, for instance. It's very important for any volunteer who hopes to develop their work in an educational setting to be professional in their approach from the very beginning. This includes personal appearance and attitude; relevant training to deliver high quality work and a good understanding and adherence to the policies and procedures of the educational setting.
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