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School's Report 2017

Helen Johnson

21 Jul 2017

Our schools continue to do well in a landscape that is constantly changing. The question of academisation is in the minds of governors and leadership and the potential and challenges that brings. There has been a whole new assessment criteria rolled out by the government and the goal posts in achievement moved with higher expectations but I am pleased to report that all our schools have robust procedures and policies in place to ensure the children are achieving academically the very best they can alongside the nurture and positive ethos of Church school life. There are many amazing things taking place daily.

The life in our schools recognises the importance of belonging and emotional growth and adapting for change by looking at learning landscapes. I have seen the use of whole school topics to excite and inspire everyone.

“ Messy Crew”, “Wild Crew”, Tribal Crew and “Yummy Crew” may mean nothing to you but they are innovative children’s programmes put in place to support and provide therapy for children who are finding life difficult. There are pupil chaplains for peer support and to share values. Our children are being taught resilience, independent learning and enquiry skills vital for life and particularly important in tough schools where it is hard to teach and have aspiration. I have seen growing involvement with the community as some of our schools provide space for community groups to meet alongside partnership with the local churches that is highly valued. Also across the District schools are working together sharing expertise and supporting and encouraging one another. This means some of our church schools are linking with Community schools too.

We must constantly remind ourselves of the significance of the mission field in school’s work. As part of my role I have been taking some assemblies and using one of my story sacks about the prodigal son I have calculated that the message of this parable touched at least 2000 children and adults during February. This include the assemblies I do in my local appointment but the knowledge that collectively through our work across the districts in schools this is probably much more contact than with Sunday morning congregations.

An issue we should be aware of is that increasingly schools are finding it difficult to find foundation governors because of the levels of commitment and skills required and we need to address that and encourage our churches to become more involved than they already are.

We could as church model the networking the schools do with each other and network finding ways to share and support our schools work and maybe we contribute by helping schools to understand the Methodist ethos fully. At our recent schools conference the Connexional Education leader Barbara Easton spoke of Methodist distinctiveness and what this might look like.

Finally, I have been blessed by the vast variety of artwork and creativity that is displayed around all our schools to aid reflection and celebrate and encourage learning. Much thought and care has gone into the thoughtful reflective spaces and the vibrant learning areas making the environments distinctive and inspiring places to learn and to be. Our Creator God is most certainly alive and present in all the many strands of school life. Please continue to pray for all school’s workers, chaplains, staff and of course the families and children. We are living in uncertain times and travelling to destinations and outcomes we don’t yet know but we must recognise the potential of the faith of a child.

Helen Johnson (Schools Officer)

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