Secondary Engagement -School Report

An engaging day, with quality input.

40 delegates from Derby and Southwell Diocese attended the SECONDARY ENGAGEMENT Conference at the St Barnabas Centre in Danesmore on Tuesday 9th July 2015.  IMG_1777Organised by Alistair Langton the Youth Adviser on behalf of the Board of Education.

This Conference marked a turning point in the Diocese’s partnership with its secondary schools, one which should see many more churches working with schools in a variety of innovative and supportive ways. The Conference was opened by the Youth Adviser, who highlighted the fact that Derby, unlike its Anglican neighbours does not have any church secondary schools and our involvement in them needs to move on from an old model of delivering assemblies and resourcing the Christian Union. Nigel Roberts (pictured above), Youth For Christ’s (YFC) National Secondary Education Advisor was the Keynote Speaker and highlighted his latest theological paper on Christians working in schools.  He explored four models of work:

  • The Evangelism Model – The strap line for YFC is ‘bringing the good news of Jesus, relevantly, to every young person in Britain’ and as most young people are in schools then that is where we are expected to be; however we must be careful in how we do this and those that are deemed to proselytise will soon be shown the door. There is a view,  that the most effective means of bringing young people to faith is not through leading collective worship or RE lessons, but through the witness of friends. If this is the case then the Evangelism Model  is best served through supporting existing young Christians and building their confidence and knowledge.

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  • The Servant Model The Servant Model was one ordained by God and fulfilled by Jesus and has a natural outlet in Christian schools work.  It is impossible to define what it would look like if this model were adopted. It would vary from school to school and reflect the individual and particular needs of each establishment. So a school may need a minibus driver for sports teams or  pastoral support in their mentoring programme, classroom support with one of their more demanding groups, additional bodies on school trips, someone to run an after school gardening club. This approach to schools work is not glamorous, high profile or necessarily what the worker was trained in but it is what is needed.
  • The Teacher ModelWhilst  this approach is called the Teacher Model, it may be a misnomer. It could just as easily be called the Gifting Model or The Expert Model.  Romans 12:6ff contains an imperative regarding the gifts we inherit or are given. ‘ God has given to each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. If we can encourage others, we should encourage them..’  Working within this model of ministry the schools worker should be offering to work in areas in which they have gifts and which may be of use or interest to a school.IMG_1789
  • The Accompanying Model. The final model is based on the Emmaus road story in Luke 24. Accompanying is a well-known youth work concept. The idea of journeying with young people through their life and faith journeys has attracted a number of writers. Its application in an educational context is seen in initiatives relating to mentoring, pastoral care, pre-exclusion work, classroom support and counseling. In my experience it is in this area that schools often have the greatest need. The complexities of modern life leave many young people in need of support from a significant peer or adult for part of their life journey.

Nigel has prepared a paper expanding on these four models:  It’s well worth a read.  Click on the link to download a copy. Four_Models_of_Schools_Work

Another  speaker,  Elaine Jones (pictured right), the IMG_1783Youth Worker from St Alkmunds Church in Derby spoke about how youth workers in the City worked with The Message to deliver a weeks worth of lessons, concerts and positive activity in local secondary schools.  The key to the success in the schools was prayer, partnership and preparation, working with the schools to make sure they were clear about what the Message Trust (www.message.org.uk) would be saying and doing and ensuring that the pupils were involved and invited at a later date to an end of mission celebration.

Sam Philips, a regional worker for Prayer Spaces spoke inspirationally in her workshop about installing Prayer Spaces in schools, (www.prayerspacesinschools.com) and how an installation of up to a dozen interactive prayer and reflection points can transform both a busy classroom and many over-active minds into a meaningful space and a several quietened brains, where pupils willingly engage with spiritual issues during school hours.

Other speakers included Chris Morison from ACE, a mentoring project in Ashbourne IMG_1808 (www.aceyouth.org.uk) and Rachel Blake from Eyam who shared a different story about a mission week in a rural location.   We were also fortunate in having the headteacher from Allestree Woodlands Academy, Mr Alan Brady (picture right) with a message of encouragement to get out of our churches and into the schools.  A challenge indeed.

All in all, the whole day was inspirational in as much as those present have committed themselves to actively pursue new links with their local schools and the Youth Adviser, Alistair Langton is looking for volunteers to work with him and a small team to introduce Prayer Spaces in schools into some secondary schools in Derby City or Derbyshire.  Please contact him if you think this is something you can engage in.

Claire Brown, the Youth and Children’s Co-ordinator from Boulton, St Marys prepared an excellent handout which highlights free web resources for working in schools.  Click on the link to download and distribute your free copy.Free Internet Resources

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