Set up a school chaplaincy
Schools are under increasing pressure. With funding cuts and increasing mental health issues for children and young people, chaplaincies provide much-needed support for staff and pupils alike.
Meet with parish and school leaders. What are the links and relationships that already exist?
Find out who in the parish, other churches or the school can offer time, money, or energy (or all three).
Put schools on the agenda at PCC, deanery synod and chapter meetings. Try this: bit.ly/PCC-guide
Form a working party of those who will make an effective, easily mobilised and dynamic group for carrying the vision forward.
Ask the school: “How can we best serve you?” We tell ourselves that schools are not interested in Christian values. It’s not true.
Think about who in your community might make a good chaplain. This may be a Licensed Lay Minister, youth worker or a retired teacher.
Build a team. A fully paid chaplain’s post is unlikely to emerge quickly so who else could support the chaplaincy work?
Create a realistic job description for a chaplain or chaplaincy leader. Contact the Diocesan Chaplaincy Adviser for help if you need it.
Train the chaplain. Ensure continuing training is in place for keeping up to date the skills necessary for a successful chaplaincy.
Commission the chaplain. Your chaplain should be commissioned in a service or assembly that involves the school and local churches.
Last year, the Loneliness Experiment, a nationwide survey conducted by the BBC and the Wellcome Collection, found that 16-24 year olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group.
Being a teenager has never been the easiest stage of life; the physical, psychological, emotional, sociological and spiritual shifts that take place as young people emerge from childhood into adult life are always significant. Today’s children and young people are connected through their phones but disconnected from the relationships they need. Two initiatives now underway in the Diocese provide much needed support.
Local support for secondary schools
Our secondary schools welcome and need the support we have to offer. In Bracknell, local churches are working in partnership with schools to provide mentoring support, prayer spaces, a Christian Union and, eventually, pastoral care for pupils and staff. The deanery is now seeking grants to support a full-time chaplain who will serve some of the primary and secondary schools in the area.
A new approach, currently at early pilot stage with four primary schools in the Diocese, draws on ancient contemplative practices in a way that is inclusive of every pupil.
Using the contemplative toolkit, staff and children learn to apply a cycle of stilling, noticing, dwelling, mending and blessing to their day to day lives. As the toolkit is developed, we hope that local churches will be able to go into schools to teach and model this approach for young people.
Could God be calling your church to working more closely with local schools? Our new Parish Planning Tool contains everything you need to navigate God’s call for your church. It’s suitable for use by every parish/benefice in the Diocese of Oxford, whatever your local context.
Not every new initiative needs funding to get going, but what if your plans for working with local schools do? Parishes, benefices and deaneries can also bid for grants from a new development fund to support local Christ-like Church projects. ¶