It's always important to remember the big ideas behind Curriculum for Excellence:
- Schools are committed to holistic development of their children and young people (emotional, relational, physical, intellectual and, yes, spiritual.....though of course different people will claim different meanings for "spiritual")
- The community of the school and links between the school and the wider community are crucial - the watchword is "Doing school together".
What does this mean in practice if I'm a Chaplain or a church volunteer seeking to support my local non-denominational school?
- There is now a much wider variety of ways that I can become involved. Don't just think about assemblies or visiting the occasional Religious Education class.
- My role should be about providing practical living examples of Christian living and beliefs, as part of the school's commitment to equip children and young people to examine differing values/beliefs and enable them to make their own informed choices and decisions.
- Catholic education of course has wider commitments. There is excellent advice available on all aspects of Catholic Education both from the Education Scotland website http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/ and from the Scottish Catholic Education Service http://www.sces.uk.com/
What permissions and boundaries do I have as a Chaplain or a church volunteer in the non-denominational sector?
• Start with “A Place for Christian Values in Scottish Education”. This document was developed in consultation with teachers and head teachers, and over a dozen Christian charities. It gives a thoughtful Rationale for the entitlements of Children and Young People, Parents and Carers, Teachers and Support Staff
• Our Survey of Relevant Themes within Curriculum for Excellence is essential reading
• Read “Secular vs Plural in Scottish Schools” by Kieran Turner of the Evangelical Alliance
How can I reassure a school that I understand and am fully committed to the Do’s and Don’ts of schools work?
- Look at the Protocol for Partnership Working, and consider adapting it for your purposes. Organisations like Scripture Union Scotland are already signed up to it, and it will become increasingly familiar to senior staff in schools in coming years. To share this Protocol (with whatever adaptations you wish to make) with the Head Teacher or a senior staff member, can be provide useful reassurance and also start some useful discussion.
- Explore whether it would be helpful (both to the school and yourself) to make a Partnership Agreement
- Work with others. Most non-denominational schools now have a Chaplaincy Team, involving church leaders and youth workers from different churches.
- But best practice goes beyond this! The modern school is all about team work, and that means pupils, teachers and adults from the community all working together. We strongly recommend suggesting to the School that a Chaplaincy Team is set up, involving equal numbers of committed pupils, teachers and chaplains. For a model policy, look at the Anytown School Chaplaincy Policy.
The policy follows advice from HM Inspectors of Education, and is fully in accord with the principles of Curriculum for Excellence. It is an excellent way of
- discussing, developing and agreeing a range of whole school issues (not just RO Assemblies, but also charity and other initiatives)
- getting not just ideas from committed pupils, but also involving them on taking a lead within the school (CfE is all about developing children and young people's confidence and leadership, and the more you can facilitate this, the more a school will welcome you)