Well, here I am in Bury St.Edmunds for a schools week working with Collective and the fine people at Bury Christian Youth. We’re in a middle school taking RE lessons on Prejudice, dance and drama lessons. There’s an event at the end of the week run in partnership with BCY and a local church.
In the light of the ongoing debate about the future of schools work, this type of week could be seen as something of a throwback to an era that is passing. Taking a band into school and doing an event at the end of the week – isn’t that a bit, well, ‘old skool’? (sorry!)
This might not be appropriate or possible in some situations (there are schools in my own area where we have not yet done something like this recently). But whatever the future brings, and we need to be wise about upcoming changes both cultural and statutory, opportunities for ‘schools weeks’ still seem to be pouring in. While I’m here and immersed in all the lessons, assemblies and break time banter, I’m trying not to reflect or analyse too much – just to observe the outcomes, intended and surprising.
Here’s some of what we’ve noticed:
Students asking very real and, for their age, quite theological questions. There’s a few questions about the band (“How did you get together?”) but mostly it’s about the way Christianity works in everyday life, how it answers ultimate questions and, one one occasion, “How do you become a Christian?”
Staff have noticed that many students who are known to be disruptive or to have attention deficit issues are behaving and paying attention.
Staff have commented that students throughout the school seem to be better behaved this week, whether or not they’ve yet seen Collective in a lesson. (Quote, “You couldn’t stay could you!?”) People say that the atmosphere is different.
These are positive and worthwhile outcomes, welcomed by all parties – the visiting team of Christians, the students and the staff. Everyone perceives a benefit. This is surely what we hope for in any review of what we call ‘schools work’.
We’re only half way through the week and there’s the event on Friday still to come. Also, we will have the staff evaluation forms to reflect on. These are handed out at the end of the week and returned to us by post a week or so later.
But for now, I see Christian involvement in this school producing good news all round. We can be good news, even as we’re sharing good news.