Pray for Schools Fortnight - 10-24 May 2018 - Ideas to help you pray for local schools - Diocese of Bath and Wells
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Pray for Schools Fortnight 10-24 May 2018 Ideas to help you pray for local schools Ideas to be inspired by… No 105 Compiled by The Go Team Advisers
Introduction Pray for Schools Fortnight is about encouraging churches to pray for their local schools. It is a UK wide initiative and is supported by a host of Christian organisations including Scripture Union, Youth for Christ, Prayer Spaces in Schools, the Association of Christian Teachers and Open the Book www.prayforschools.org. We would like to encourage churches and individuals to join in from 10-24 May 2018. It begins on Ascension Day and runs through into Pentecost and so sits alongside the Archbishops’ Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative www.thykingdomcome.global. Whether or not you plan to take part in Thy Kingdom Come, we feel a focus on praying for schools is important at this time of the year. SATs will be happening for 10 & 11 year olds, exams are near for older GCSE and A Level students and many young people and possibly staff are wondering what the following year may bring as they move on to the next stage of education and life. To help churches get involved, we have compiled some tried and tested resources that focus on three specific areas: praying for schools on a Sunday; praying for schools in a creative way; and linking with local schools in Pray for Schools Fortnight. We have also included some stories from where this has already been working well locally, which we hope will inspire you to get creative and most of all praying for our local schools. For further help and support do contact one of the Go Team Advisers, and do share your own experiences of Pray for Schools Fortnight and praying for schools in your area. We’d love to hear your stories! Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @GoTeamAdvisers and sign up to our newsletter Inform at www.bathandwells.org.uk/supporting-children/youth-children Contents Praying for schools on a Sunday Praying for schools in creative ways Practical things to do for your local school/s Linking with schools during Pray for Schools Fortnight Stories from around the Diocese Top 10 tips for serving your local school Appendix (Sample Letter)
Praying for schools on a Sunday On Sunday 13 May we are encouraging churches to include special prayers for schools in their usual Sunday service as part of Pray for Schools Fortnight. Below are some ideas to get you started and if you’d like to go a bit further and plan a whole service themed around schools and education or you have a children’s group as part of the service that day, there are some ideas you could use for that too. Interview the insiders! If you have children and young people of school age or adults who work in a school or education in your congregation then as part of your service consider inviting them to give a short talk or do a brief interview with them about their experience of life at school. If you have children of various ages then choose some from different schools/key stages and give them a bit of notice to think about their responses. You could also ask them to wear their school jumper or blazer on the day. Ask the young people questions like: What school do you go to? Describe school in 3 words? What’s your favourite subject/thing about school? What do you find most difficult about school? What would you like to be when you’re older? This could produce some interesting and insightful responses and help the church as they remember students in their prayers. If you have a teacher, school governor or other member of staff in the congregation then you could include them in a similar interview. A short conversation with them in advance might make the most of them sharing their experience and perhaps their sense of calling to work in education. One way of following this could be to invite members of the congregation to gather around the young people/staff and pray for their local schools, inspired by what they’ve heard. If you haven’t got ‘insiders’ in your congregation but have a good relationship with a teacher or Headteacher who isn’t part of your church, perhaps you could invite them to come and share in the service in some way? Open The Book If you have a local Open the Book team that visits Primary Schools as part of Collective Worship, why not invite them to perform one of their Bible stories as part of your Sunday service? It would not only give a great opportunity for the congregation to see first hand what an Open The Book assembly looks like but will be a creative addition to the service. Someone from the team could then briefly speak about the privilege it is to visit the school in this way. Remember to include the Open The Book team in the prayers that are said. Alternatively, you could invite a member of clergy or youth & children’s worker who regularly visits a school to tell a Bible story or share their experience of visiting a school on behalf of the church.
Praying for schools on a Sunday (continued) Liturgical Prayer (adapted from a Transforming Lives resource www.transforminglives.org.uk) Almighty God, we thank you for every teacher who works in our schools. Please strengthen them as they invest so much in the children and young people they teach. ALL RESPOND Fill them afresh with your Spirit and inspire them to walk in your ways. Loving Shepherd, we thank you for the many people who enable our local schools to run smoothly and provide a nurturing environment for children. Please encourage them that they may be aware of the value of all they do and help them to enjoy their work. ALL RESPOND Fill them afresh with your Spirit and inspire them to walk in your ways. Lord of all understanding and knowledge, we thank you for school governors and the role they have in the life of each school. Please guide them to make wise decisions, to know when to affirm and when to ask questions. ALL RESPOND Fill them afresh with your Spirit and inspire them to walk in your ways. Heavenly Father, we thank you for every child and young person attending nurseries, primary and secondary schools, academies, colleges and any other educational institutions in our neighbourhoods. Please inspire and energise them to make the most of the opportunities that they have to be diligent students, to play creatively and to know that you delight in them as they seek to follow you. ALL RESPOND Fill them afresh with your Spirit and inspire them to walk in your ways. God our Creator, we thank you for the education and encouragement we ourselves have received from teachers and others in years gone by and in the present. Please help us to support those who work in education however we can, To appreciate their important job of shaping the future and to remember them in our prayers. Fill us afresh with your Spirit ALL RESPOND Fill them afresh with your Spirit and inspire them to walk in your ways. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Praying for schools in creative ways One way in which to do this, is to turn your local church into a prayer space for a day or a few days during Pray for Schools Fortnight. Invite members of your parish/parishes to visit, plus invite staff, governors and parents from your local schools to come along. Consider all the schools in your benefice or locality and see if you can collect a few items that represent them. This may include a school jumper, a photograph of the school site and a school prospectus. You may like to invite schools to give you three things related to their school that you can pray for during these days. Display their prayer requests for visitors to see and engage in. Examples of prayer stations to include can be found across the internet on websites such as www.prayforschools.org and www.prayerspacesinschools.com. The following pages give examples of tried and tested stations that the Go Team have used in parish settings. 1. Praying for children and young people Design a prayer space using a deck of playing cards. Turn over a playing card and pray according to the suit you reveal: Pray for a young person whose heart is bitter and hard. Pray that the Holy Spirit would fill them with love. Pray for a young person who is in a ‘hole’: struggling with a particular issue, difficulty or problem. Give thanks for friendship. Pray for those who feel isolated and lonely at school, and who struggle to make friends. Pray for a young person in the context of their family: for good relationships with parents and siblings. 2. Praying for those with additional needs Children with additional learning needs can often find accessing education and school incredibly challenging. Label 3 jars ‘CHILD’, ‘PARENT’ and ‘TEACHER’ and have lots of marbles available. As participants to take a moment to think about those who find school hard. Pick up a marble. Think of this as symbolising a heavy weight, a burden, anxiety, care. Pray for either a CHILD with additional needs, a PARENT worried about their child, or a TEACHER or learning support assistant who works with various needs in a class situation. Once you have said your prayer, drop the marble into the relevant jar.
Praying for schools in creative ways (continued…) 3. Praying for school staff Teachers lead very busy lives but try their very best to look after the children in their care. They spend lots of time planning lessons and completing multiple admin tasks to track progress and monitor the children in their care. There are many different members of staff playing their part in a school, they are all valuable members of a school community. Gather together Duplo or Megablocks and some large sticky labels. Encourage participants to write the name of someone they know who works in a school or who has a role in education. Encourage them to put the stickers onto the blocks to start forming a tower representing all the people/ building blocks that make a school. Whilst doing that, thank God for these important and inspirational people. 4. Education in the news Gather together a bunch of newspaper articles that have featured in the press recently, display them and encourage people to pray over current and important issues being faced in education. The BBC News website and Education pages are a good place to start. 5. Pray for education around the world Using a world map, provide an opportunity for people to think more broadly about education. Using post-it notes or similar, invite people to write their own prayers for people they know who are teaching around the world or for individual countries where they feel there is a specific educational need or prayer to be offered to God.
Praying for schools in creative ways (continued…) 6. Pray for your local school Make a model school from a cardboard box. Challenge people to think about the following: Our schools are precious places. We may know lots about them. We may know little about them. We may remember our own school days with fond memories. We may look back on our own school days with sadness. Whatever our personal experience, take this opportunity to offer up a prayer for your local school. Write your prayers on a post-it note and stick them on the cardboard school. Extra prayer space or exhibition ideas Pictures of local schools (usually available from school websites) which could be used on a PowerPoint presentation or simply printed out and displayed. Provide information or updates about Christian involvement in local schools (CU groups, clergy or youth workers who visit) as well as national initiatives like Prayer Spaces in Schools, the Gideons and Open the Book. Always provide plenty of pens and paper for prayers to be expressed in various ways, plus space to put them up or a “washing line” to peg them on to. Set up a table with a selection of items relating to schools that would inspire people to pray for different aspects of school life. This could include a cycle helmet (safe journeys to and from school), a pair of football boots (sports/play/exercise but not everyone’s favourite subject!), a coffee mug (pray for teachers feeling the pressure), a book, pencil case, a school tie or sweatshirt with a logo, a lunchbox, a test paper…...you get the idea! Invite people to look at the table of items and either pray out loud or quietly as they are inspired, or add post-it notes to the items as they pray.
Practical things to do for your local school/s Pray For Schools Fortnight provides a perfect opportunity to consider ways in which you can bless the schools in your locality. We recognise that for many of you, you are already praying for your schools on the other 50 weeks of the year and offering generous acts to the staff and children, but this fortnight provides a special opportunity to bring schools to the forefront in your church communities. There are many ways in which you can bless your local school community, here are some practical ways in which you can do this during Pray for Schools Fortnight: 1. Write to the Head Teacher at your local school to let them know that the church will be specifically praying for them during Pray for Schools Fortnight. You could ask them in the letter if there is anything particular that you could pray for and give a contact number or email address for them to let you know. You could also include details of when you are planning to pray. Be sure to say that you’re doing this because you care about local schools, children, young people and teachers. (see example letter in the Appendix) 2. Bake some cakes, buy a tin of biscuits or box of chocolates for the school staff room. Deliver them to the school with a card from the church, thanking them for all they do for the local children and reminding them that the church is praying for them. 3. Ask if a small group from your church can do a prayer walk around the school premises—this will require you to be sensitive to safeguarding, so it may have to take place when children are not on site, but a dialogue with the Head Teacher should enable you to sort logistics. 4. Offer to provide lunch or breakfast for the staff in your local school. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Bacon butties for breakfast or a soup and bread roll lunch. 5. Offer to put together a task force team who can visit the local school to do any practical maintenance jobs that may need doing such as painting fences, clearing overgrown bushes or any other job that the school may value practical support in. Be sure to tell them that you are praying for them and offering this on behalf of the church because you care and want to serve and honour them for the valuable job they do with your local children and young people. 6. Open discussions with your local school on starting a prayer group that meets regularly. This could involve people from the local church, staff, parents and/or governors. Pray for Schools Fortnight offers the perfect opportunity to launch something such as this.
Inviting schools to join in with Pray for Schools Fortnight As a spin off from one church’s Prayer Day, the Primary School across the road asked if they could bring a class of children over to visit! Here are some prayer stations that you could set up and use with Primary School children as they think about and pray for their school and children around the world. Thank you for my school If possible, set up tables and chairs for the children to sit around. Give the children a piece of paper each (A5 works well) and felt pens or coloured pencils. Ask them to think about what they’d like to thank God for in their school and then draw a picture of it as a prayer. It might be the school itself or a teacher, a favourite activity at school or a friend. Once they’ve finished you could display the pictures on a “washing line” in the church or prayer space. Praying for other people in my school Have the children sit on the floor in the semi-circle in front of the altar or a cross. Introduce the idea of praying for other people in our school. Invite suggestions of those we could pray for (e.g. teachers, Headteacher, cleaner, dinner lady, a friend who is off sick). Give each child a pipe cleaner (long coloured ones are best) and show them how to bend and twist it to make a simple person. Ask them to think who this person represents, someone in their school that they would like to pray for. Then explain that we’re going to bring our pipe cleaner person to God in prayer, taking it in turns to place our person in front of the altar/cross. You go first then sit back down quietly; then each child places their person and sits back down quietly. Finish with a short spoken prayer. Asking God to help us with things we find hard Introduce this activity by saying: There are always things that we will find difficult and challenging. The Bible tells us that God is always with us and that we can ask him to help us with things we find hard. In the Old Testament God encouraged Joshua when he was facing a very hard task with these words: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). This activity is about asking God to help us to be brave. Pre-prepare an A-Z set of outlined capital letters (printed onto paper with extras for the most popular letters). Each child takes a letter (their initial) to decorate and write a prayer on it as they reflect on the things they’re finding hard. Display all the letter prayers on a display board or large piece of cardboard as pictured. You could also use the song/video ‘You make me brave’ by Bethel Music/ Bethel Kids (from the album ‘Come Alive’) with this activity. Lighting a candle A simple activity that will need some extra supervision, tea-light candles, matches, a wax taper and a safe place to light the candles. Jesus called us the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). As the children take it in turns to light a candle invite them to think about how they can be ‘light’ in their school. Allow space and a certain amount of quiet for each child to pause, think and pray after lighting their candle.
Stories from around the Diocese Pray for Schools Fortnight in the Blackdown Local Ministry Group Cheryl Govier’s experience of Pray for School’s Fortnight in the Blackdown LMG, May 2016 Cheryl is Go Team Adviser for Wells Archdeaconry and has long championed the idea of churches praying for their local schools. In her previous role as Children’s, Schools and Families worker, Cheryl wanted to encourage the churches in the Blackdown Benefice and Seven Sowers Benefice to pray intentionally for education and schools. During Pray for Schools Fortnight, Cheryl set up a range of prayer stations in a central church within the Blackdown LMG. She invited parishioners from across the LMG to come along during the day to pray. Various prayer stations enabled visitors to express prayers for schools locally, as well as throughout the country and across the world. Many of those prayer spaces and activities are included within this resource. She displayed information from each of the five primary schools situated within the LMG, including a prospectus, school jumper, and a photo of the school building/site. She produced an information sheet describing all of the ways in which the local church was currently serving within their local school. This helped to inform and encourage people to think about the schools in their local area. In the evening, they gathered for a reflective 30 minute service, where they thought about schools and prayed for them together. Cheryl informed all of the schools as to what they were doing and invited their staff to visit. As part of the day, the church was able to share with each of the schools that they were praying for them. After the event, they were able to feedback some of the comments from the day to head teachers and staff, reminding them how much they are valued in their local communities. Cheryl commented: ‘Many of our churches pray for schools during their intercessions throughout the year, which is so important and I urge you to continue doing so. My experience of setting this day up, was that it enabled us to be intentional in our prayers, raising awareness of the needs of our local schools. I hope that as a result of putting on days such as this, people in our congregations will feel able and keen to regularly pray for education and schools.’
Praying for schools in Tone Deanery For a number of years, churches in Tone Deanery have been encouraged to take part in Pray for Schools Fortnight. Sunday services and other gathered prayer times in many of the churches included special prayers for schools during the fortnight; with letters being sent to the Headteachers of all 18 of the Deanery’s schools to let them know they are being prayed for. In May 2016, three special midweek ‘Prayer Days’ were hosted by churches around the Deanery at Bishops Lydeard, Wellington and Oake; linking up with the nearby Primary School in each place and involving them in praying for their school. St Bartholomew’s Church, tucked away on the edge of Oake golf course, was set up with interactive prayer stations that helped inspire the children to get creative in their prayers for their own school, as well as for children and education around the world. Midday Prayers usually said in the church at noon on Wednesdays were focused on schools and education, as a small group gathered to pray, inspired by the prayers of the children during the morning. Classes from Oake, Bradford & Nynehead CE Primary School visited throughout the day, processing along the lane from their classrooms to the church to find a warm welcome and the opportunity to pause, reflect and get creative in the space in a way that perhaps they don’t often get to do. Headteacher Nick Gilding, who was keen for the school to be part of the initiative, commented afterwards: “Thank you so much for all you did to give the children such a meaningful and enjoyable experience. I came up with the Year 5/6 class and was really impressed with the thought that they had put into the activities... as ever with this kind of approach, I was often surprised and amazed by the depth of thinking that arose in some of the children’s writing and also in their discussions.” “All the staff have shared their appreciation for the work that you put in and the way in which you helped the children to participate and contribute at their own level.” Over at St John’s Church in the centre of Wellington, similar prayer stations were set up in the lady chapel and the day began with morning prayer, again picking up the theme of schools and education. Children and staff from St John’s Primary School visited the church through the day and the choir from Court Fields (Secondary) School performed a brilliant lunchtime concert for those gathered in the church. There were some positive responses to the letters sent to Headteachers too; thanking us for our thoughts and prayers; asking us to pray for the changes that are happening in local leadership and in education itself; as well as general requests for those children that may have unsettled home lives. As for the prayers written and drawn by the children, they’re always an inspiration! Andy Levett, Go Team Adviser for Taunton Archdeaconry
Top 10 tips for serving your local school We asked Youth & Children’s Adviser Tony Cook and School Chaplain Jerry Parr how churches can love and link up with their local school and here are some of their top tips. 1. Ask how you could help. 2. Bake a cake and put it in the staff room with a card thanking staff for their hard work, especially around a school inspection. 3. Support school events, plays and fetes that are open to the public. 4. Read school newsletters so you know what is happening. 5. Volunteer to read with a group or individual, or volunteer to help on a school trip. 6. Be available to help, pray and support during exam times and on exam results days, or at times of crisis, sadness and bereavement (not just the Vicar). 7. Become a Governor. 8. Once a year hold a joint PCC and School Council meeting to discuss what is really important in developing and maintaining the link 9. Offer your church buildings as a resource to the school; for an RE related visit or for celebrations through the year. If you have suitable facilities offer them free of charge for training or as a breakout space for staff meetings. 10. Explore the idea of forming a link with a school in Zambia, as part of the Diocesan Zambia link.
Appendix (Sample Letter) Date 2018 Mr John Smith Headteacher Churchtown Church of England School Dear Mr Smith, As part of Pray for Schools Fortnight, a national initiative encouraging churches to pray for their local schools, Christians from the churches in this area will be taking time to pray for schools and education from 10-24 May. Here in Churchtown we’re encouraging churches and individuals to join in praying for schools in various ways and our service on Sunday 13 May will include special prayers for children and young people and all those involved in education. We wanted you to know that as churches in your local community we care about schools; children, young people and staff. If you have any specific prayer requests that you’d like us to include in our prayers please feel free to get in touch by email or phone, or via Rev Jones at Churchtown Church. Yours sincerely A Christian On behalf of Churchtown Churches tel. email.
Go Team Youth & Children's Advisers To find out what we are doing and what we offer: Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @GoTeamAdvisers Sign up to our monthly newsletter Inform and check out the Youth and Children’s Work pages on the website: www.bathandwells.org.uk/supporting-children/youth-children/
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