Churches urged to offer greater support to local primary schools

Churches are being urged to offer greater support to their local primary schools, many of which would welcome more involvement and partnership, a conference held in Leeds has been told.

The conference, ‘Resourcing Churches to Engage with Local primary schools’, held at the David Young Academy in Seacroft last weekend, heard that  policies on issues such as spiritual development meant that there was often greater opportunity for churches to be involved with their local schools.

Geoff Brown“Schools are charged with the responsibility to help children develop spiritually”, said keynote speaker, Geoff Brown of Scripture Union (pictured right). “They recognise that the church is well placed to help with this. Therefore it is vital that churches make the most of the opportunities to serve their schools really well.”

Jane KentHis message to an audience of clergy and lay people from across the diocese and other churches was echoed by other speakers. Deputy Director of Education for the diocese, Jane Kent (pictured left), told the conference that many churches could do more to support their local schools.  She quoted from the new Diocese of Leeds, Education website, “It is essential that community, church and school regard themselves as interlinked and supportive of each other. Each offers a specialist insight which will inform the others and enhance the life experiences of pupils and adults alike.”

She added, “The links between parishes and schools brings a rich dynamic to the lives of many children, students and their families as well as staff and governors.   Church schools are advised and guided on how local churches can bring skill and expertise through their doors.”  (More ideas are on the new Education website here)

Others who spoke included school governors and Christian organisations working with schoools in Leeds. Practical workshops were laid on to give participants ideas on how to engage with schools and offer imaginative help and support. They included workshops from organisations working with schools including Godly Play, Prayer Spaces in Schools, Journey Makers (pictured top right with Rachel Dawson), Open the Book (pictured above left with Leeds Minster Education Officer, Janet Buttenshaw), Rewind and Jumping Fish, and MakeLunch, a network of churches helping to fill the holiday hunger gap.

“It was great to get some new ideas but also to network with other people within the diocese” and “I loved the day, and thought it was really, really great,” were among the comments from those who took part. 

Organiser, Anne Carter (Children and Youth Team Officer), said that further conferences are already being considered to help churches become confident in working with their local schools.

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