We have joined with Evangelical Alliance to develop their Guide for the Christian Family in Education  specifically for Scottish parents.

How can I...

How can I support my child's learning at home?

As a parent, you are the person most responsible for your child's learning. That's what the Bible says (for example, Deuteronomy 6:6-7). But it's actually the law as well: the parent is the Prime Educator of the child. The Scottish Government has an excellent website full of suggestions for ways that parents can help their children learn at home: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/parentzone/learningathome/index.asp

Jesus used a wide range of outstanding teaching methods. And don't forget that he regularly used living in the supernatural as a starting point for learning -- as Christian parents, that's what we should do also.

How can I get involved with my child's school?

Your child’s school wants you to be a full partner in helping your child to learn. At Parents Evenings, come with lots of questions not only about how your child is doing, but also seeking advice for how you can help him/her more at home. The teacher will have suggestions, and the school’s website should offer advice also.

Just one example: the school will only have time for a few field trips in the year, but if you find out what topics are being studied you can take your child to any number of useful places, from Bannockburn to the Scottish Parliament, from an industrial museum to an Art Gallery.

http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/parentzone/gettinginvolved/index.asp also has numerous suggestions for ways that parents can volunteer their help in schools, such as: helping with paired reading, offering specialist skills (e.g. computer skills, gardening, storytelling, painting, sports -- including helping with the school's sports teams); being an extra pair of hands on a school trip, at a school disco, at school lunchtime clubs.

Scripture Union Scotland https://www.suscotland.org.uk/ is also keen to support parents who want to run lunchtime Christian clubs in schools, and will provide training, advice and support.

How can I support and encourage teachers?

It is surprising how few parents contact a school to express their appreciation. Therefore, if you do so it will really be noted and will have a very positive impact. Why not send in a Thank You card to the headteacher and staff at the end of each school year, thanking them for all their hard work? Writing or emailing an individual teacher to thank them for something they have done can be very encouraging. When your child leaves the school for the next stage in his/her life, a large box of chocolates for the staff would also be most welcome!

Schools also really need practical support so responding to requests for help can make a real difference. Attending special events and evenings that the school organises are obvious ways to show support.

Support teachers by always speaking respectfully about them in the home, even when your child is complaining. Praying as a family for teachers by name is the way to help them most.

Particularly when children reach secondary school age and start being taught by different people for different subjects, it is easy to think of teachers as faceless service providers; we can make numerous demands and of course we expect to receive a neatly finished product on exam results day! Remembering that they are human beings, made in the image of God, can transform the way we interact with them.

How can I encourage a sense of community in and around the school?

For parents of primary school children, waiting at the school gate to collect them at the end of the day is a marvellous opportunity to talk to other parents. Conversations at the school gates and in the community are wonderful opportunities to build relationship by taking an interest and showing the love of God. But always try to avoid being part of unhelpful gossip!

Some schools have official or unofficial online communities for parents. Putting positive comments on these is immensely helpful: whenever the school organises a special event, for example, a little bit of online enthusiasm from parents goes a long way -- and it will definitely be noticed.

Be hospitable. Invite your child’s friends into your home, being careful to establish trust, confirm permission, and also to keep parents informed of visits. Also invite parents into your home and to church.

How can I reach out to children in the school with Additional Needs, and to their parents?

This is a great way of blessing others; in the right circumstances it can make a massive difference. First, help your children to think through what it means that God forms each of us and loves us equally despite our differences. Help them to talk about the challenges and the blessings of doing life with people of different abilities. Help them find ways to talk honestly but not pejoratively (‘I get frustrated when Zach does x’, rather than ‘Zach is so annoying’).

Reach out to the child’s parents at the school gates, or ask the teacher to pass on a note to them offering friendship and asking if there’s anything they wish their child’s classmates or friends would do or not do. Parenting a child with special needs can be utterly exhausting and all-absorbing. If you don’t get a reply from the parents, don’t take it as a snub, but an incentive to pray for the family, preferably together with your children.

How can I support my child if he/she is being bullied?

Bullying can become an issue in both primary and secondary school. Most schools take bullying very serious and all schools are required to have a bullying policy in place which outlines how the school and the teachers deal with incidents of bullying: this should be available on the school's website (if it isn't, you can request a copy from the school office).

If you are concerned that your child is being bullied, it is really important to contact the school: in a primary school, you will probably contact the headteacher in the first instance while in a secondary school the first contact is with your child's Guidance Teacher. Not all disagreements between children amount to bullying; sometimes they are simply a one-off confrontation where reconciliation can quickly be arranged. However, if the bullying is ongoing, you will definitely want to meet with an appropriate member of staff to help find a solution.

How can I support my child if he/she is being bullied online?

Remember that cyber-bullying (or online bullying) is at least as common as face-to-face bullying. Schools generally restrict (or attempt to restrict) internet usage to educational purposes during the school day/on school premises. However, in practice even this can be difficult. They have no technology or powers to monitor online contacts between pupils outside school. But they do have a duty to take appropriate action if they become aware that a pupil is being bullied online by his/her peers.

It is really important for all parents to get “up to speed” about their child’s use of the internet and about tell-tale warning signs of problems. A good ongoing relationship with your child makes open discussion much easier, but dynamics can quickly change as your child grows, especially if he/she is coming under pressure from bullying at school. Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s school with concerns. But even if you never have concerns, be prepared by keeping up to date with an area which is always changing:

How can I support my child if “sexting” is becoming an issue at school?

‘Sexting’ is an increasingly common activity among children and young people, where they share explicit sexual images of themselves online or through mobile phones. Young people may also call it Cybersex or Sending a Nudie Picture or Nudie Selfie. 'Sexting' is often seen as flirting by children and young people who feel that it is part of normal life.

As a parent, it is important to understand the significant risks so that you can talk to your child about how to stay safe and what to do if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable. An excellent source of general advice is from the NSPCC: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/sexting/
As with cyber-bullying, do not hesitate to contact the school and meet with a member of staff if you are concerned. Your child’s school may well also run seminars for parents on such topics; if not, why not suggest it?

As a Christian, you have immense advantages of supporting your children through prayer. And your children know that God has made them special; they have a purpose. It is no accident that Paul lists hope alongside faith and love as a key mark of life in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13). By contrast, hope collapses with devastating results once a person accepts the secular verdict that his/her life is impersonal and ultimately meaningless. And then it's an easy step to seeing yourself as simply:
- A consumer on an endlessly unsatisfying treadmill.
- A sexual performer.
- A slave to celebrity.
It is important to talk this through with your child as they develop, at appropriate levels using appropriate opportunities. Remember that pressures are multi-facetted and by no means simply sexual. The expectations brought by celebrity culture or consumerism can be just as big.

How can I support my child if they are being bullied because of their faith?

It is against the law to discriminate in school against someone because of their religion or belief. Nevertheless, schools can sometimes be less aware of faith bullying than bullying on other grounds. If your child is being bullied by another child because of their faith, you should discuss this with the teacher, headteacher or guidance teacher as appropriate. Establish the facts. Work with the school to agree and develop a plan of action to deal with the issue.

If your child is being bullied or subjected to religious intolerance by a teacher (e.g. by having his/her views ridiculed), you should seek a meeting with the headteacher.

How can I support my child (and the school) if I have concerns about the teaching of religious education?

The modern school is expected to be as transparent as possible, and to work in close partnership with parents. It is therefore fully acceptable for you to approach the school and ask for more information about how religious education is taught, the topics covered, the approaches taken etc. If you have significant concerns, speak with the teacher in the first instance and then if necessary with the headteacher.

You are permitted by law to withdraw your children from all or some of their RME lessons, and schools must provide additional supervised alternative teaching. However, mistakes can be rectified and solutions can often be found, so it is always best to first talk to teachers about your concerns and work with them towards positive ways forward.

Especially in primary schools, a general lack of religious literacy amongst teaching staff means that the subject often does not realise its potential. This represents an opportunity and a responsibility for Christian parents, churches and school ministries to support the teaching of RME. Schools have to teach Religious and Moral Education (RME). Although some secularist groups are calling for RME to be abolished, the Scottish Government sees it as a valuable contributor to community cohesion.

Is teaching in religious education about other faiths compulsory?

The Scottish Government's guidelines on education (Curriculum for Excellence) describe the content of all school subjects in great detail. Approximately 50% of Religious and Moral Education should focus on aspects of Christianity and its implications for practical living. The remainder help children and young people to examine other religions in the same way as they have examined Christian beliefs and values.

Good RE teaching helps children to understand and critique beliefs and ideas. Allowing time for personal reflection and freedom for critical response, it should explore how belief systems seek to provide answers to the big questions about meaning and the purpose of life. In a plural society, this will inevitably entail learning about other faiths and also about non-religious belief systems. Every child needs to leave school with a level of literacy about world religions if they are to be equipped to navigate the global society in which we all now live.

As ever, without solid Bible teaching in the home and in the church, your child will be as susceptible as any child to misunderstanding, error and untruth.

How can I respond if I'm concerned about the quality (or lack) of religious observance assemblies at my child's school?

All pupils are entitled to attend at least six religious observance assemblies each year, in addition to assemblies marking major religious festivals (e.g. Christmas, Easter). Religious observance is not the same as worship. The purpose of R.O. (Religious Observance) is to help young people reflect on what life is really about, its possible spiritual dimension, etc (hence they are sometimes called Time for Reflection events). For the full picture, see http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/chaplains-churches/permissions-boundaries/religious-observance.html

If the school does not seem to be organising even the minimum number of religious observance assemblies, this is certainly something in raise with the headteacher. Remember always to do so in a positive way. There are numerous suggestions on the CVE Scotland website about how parents and churches can provide such support. The key starting point is to build a strong relationship with your child's school, so that any suggestions or support that you offer are more likely to be trusted.

School religious assemblies are generally organised by the chaplaincy team, which may additionally include school staff and pupils. Most Scottish schools have a team of chaplains, and it may be possible for your church leader to be invited to join this team in due course, especially if your church is committed to supporting the school in a variety of ways.

How can I respond if my child's faith/belief is challenged by teachers?

Being challenged is not necessarily a bad thing as it can open up discussions and increase understanding. However, there is a big difference between challenging and ridiculing: a teacher should never humiliate a child because of his or her beliefs so it may become necessary to speak to the teacher if this is the case.

How can I respond if my child's faith/belief is challenged by other pupils?

This is inevitable. Be sure to listen carefully to your child and help them work out how to respond with grace and intelligence. Ahead of such challenges, it is important to do all you can at home to help your child understand why your family believes what they do.

How can I protect my child from being exposed to sexual ethics that diverge from Christian teaching?

Parents are entitled to view all Sex and Relationships Education materials used, and to be informed about when they are going to be taught. Once you have seen the material, and know what it contains, it is important to talk with your child about the content from a biblical perspective, before it is taught in school.

If you have a particular concern about the sex education being provided by the school for your child, the first thing to do is to discuss it with your child’s headteacher. He/she will do all they can to respond to your concerns. In exceptional circumstances, you might take the view that this is an aspect of your child’s education that you prefer to deal with only at home. This is ultimately your choice, though would never be taken lightly; if you do this, you need to talk to the headteacher who will explain what alternative arrangements will be made for your child at these times.

In a deeply sexualised culture like our own, the best way to avoid having to withdraw your child from sex education lessons is to teach them about sex in a godly way. Sensitively discussing the biological, emotional and spiritual dimensions of sex from a Christian perspective is the best way to protect your children.

If you do decide to withdraw your child from sex education lessons it is very important to take time to explain to your child why this is happening. It is also helpful to talk to other Christian and non-Christian parents to discern whether other children may be being withdrawn.

How can I best respond if my child is accused of homophobia?

Talk to the teacher or headteacher about it. Establish the facts to ascertain whether the accusation is legitimate, and in consultation with the teacher develop a plan of action to avoid a recurrence of the issue. It is important to talk with your child about the right way to express Christian views on sexual ethics.

How can I complain (in general)?

First of all, remain calm, and be sure that you truly understand the situation. Check out the facts and bear in mind that your child's account may be at least partly mistaken. When contacting the school, always be courteous and relational. Every school will have a complaints procedure, which you can usually find on its website. Look through it and decide what the appropriate course of action is. Start at the most basic point and work up – don’t escalate your problem to the headteacher if a quick phone call to the staff member concerned could have resolved it. In a secondary school, though, you will almost certainly have to make contact first via your child's Guidance Teacher.

Face-to-face meetings are always best if at all possible, and give you the opportunity to show that you really want to support and work with the school. Your aim is always to build an ongoing relationship, where teachers at all levels see you as a partner, not an opponent. Remember that emails and letters can create the wrong impression -- they are simply far too easy to misunderstand.

How can I complain about the attitude or behaviour of an individual teacher?

It is unwise to make a complaint if you are still at the stage of reacting emotionally: calm down first. Then be sure you have your facts right and don’t just accept your child’s version of events as the truth. Most school complaints procedures encourage dealing with concerns promptly and appropriately. If your child is at primary school, you would normally contact the headteacher (or possibly the depute headteacher) in the first instance; in secondary school, the normal first line of contact will be your child's Guidance Teacher.

Do your best not to sound accusatory, whether at the stage of first contacting the school or in any later face-to-face meeting. The type of complaint will determine what happens next. Ask to meet the teacher to discuss your concerns. Listen to what the teacher says and only take your complaint further if you are not satisfied with the response.

If the matter relates to a Safeguarding or Child Protection issue you should speak immediately to the school’s Designated Child Protection Officer. The school’s Child Protection Policy which should be available on its website.

How can I support my child if he/she is being taught things that fundamentally diverge from Christian teaching?

Although all schools have positive and appealing vision statements, none are neutral. All Scottish schools are expected to support the underlying values of Scottish education: Wisdom, Justice, Compassion and Integrity. Nevertheless, on a day-to-day basis most schools tend to reflect a range of prevailing cultural biases in their ethos and teaching.

This is why it is vitally important to talk to your child about the assumed values and attitudes within their schoolwork, helping them to recognise and resist un-Christian ideas that they may be taught. This teaching must begin and be sustained in the home. This is also why it is important to maintain good communication with your child’s teachers, in order to affirm the positive importance of Christian values in teaching and learning.

Often, though not exclusively, tensions can arise in relation to Christian values as they apply to Social and Health Education (Health and Wellbeing) which covers things like drug awareness, healthy living, economic wellbeing, citizenship, financial responsibility, diet and nutrition, and Sex and Relationships Education. If for example you become aware that sex is being portrayed as a casual leisure activity rather than a gift to be enjoyed within marriage; or forms of racism are endorsed; or greed or exploitation of others is shown as acceptable – the first thing to do is to check all the facts rather than simply react. Once you have clearly established precisely what and how something was taught, by whom, to whom and when – then you should prepare to talk to the teaching staff. The support of other parents can often be important when addressing problems.

It is never wise to go storming up to the school after a particular trigger point! Ask to see the teachers concerned for a discussion so that they can understand your point of view and values. And be aware that there will come a point when your child should be exposed to controversy and taught to handle it.

Can I join the Parent Council of my child's school?

Joining the Parent Council of your child's school is really good way of helping the school to develop and prosper. Most Parent Councils are keen to recruit new members, so if you offer to become involved you are likely to be welcomed with open arms! (Very occasionally, there are more volunteers than places on the Council, in which case elections are held and you can put your name forward.)

The Parent Council is a committee of parents selected by all the parents and carers at your child’s school. Its job is to represent all the parents of children at the school. It meets regularly with the headteacher (and generally one or two other teachers) to discuss the running of the school. Areas covered include:

  • helping the school to understand how to most effectively involve parents in their children's learning and in the life of the school
  • supporting the school in its development and improvement, and in making links with the wider community
  • encouraging parents to volunteer their skills and experience for the school
  • consulting parents about school policies, e.g. uniform, drugs, school ethos, etc.

The Parent Council is also involved in the appointment of a new headteacher, and the Chair of the Parent Council is generally a member of the interview panel.

Before you volunteer it is important to discover more about what the Parent Council is doing: look at the school website (the Parent Council may well have a dedicated page) and talk to the headteacher and the chair of Parent Council. You may well be invited to sit in as a guest at a couple of meetings to get the “feel” of how things are organised. Be clear about what skills or experience you offer. Ensure that you do not come across as interested in a limited number of issues, but have the whole school as your concern.

Find out more about Parent Councils at http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/parentzone/gettinginvolved/parentcouncils/index.asp

How can I become a classroom assistant?

Volunteering as a Classroom Assistant (also known as teaching assistants or learning support assistants in some schools) is a wonderful way for Christian parents to give practical support to the school community. Often Classroom Assistants are parents of children who are attending or who have attended the school.

Most schools employ classroom assistants, who either help the teacher with the general work of the class or provide more specialist support for pupils with Additional Needs. Additional volunteers for such roles are much valued in some schools, though their use is not evenly spread across Scotland. There are many other ways to volunteer in schools: offers of support are generally most welcome for Paired Reading schemes, for additional pairs of hands on school trips, and sometimes also for mentoring of individual pupils.

Volunteering as a classroom assistant or in other ways is often a stepping stone towards becoming a teacher. There are no formal qualifications required for being a voluntary Classroom Assistant– although your local education authority will have guidelines as to what sort of people they are looking for. All volunteers need to be checked under the PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) Scheme; if you are accepted as a volunteer, the school will organise this.

For further information, see http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/parentzone/gettinginvolved/ways/index.asp and http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/parents/teaching_assistant/

How can I become a teacher?

Teaching is a challenging and demanding profession, and parenting can help to prepare you well for it. Overall, there tends to be a rather higher percentage of Christians involved in teaching than in other jobs. Since it is a profoundly practical way to help young people to grow and flourish, many see teaching as a calling from God.

In many years, the Scottish Government faces difficulty in recruiting sufficient numbers of new teachers; the degree of shortage varies between primary and secondary teachers, and there are much greater shortages (for secondary) in some subjects than in others.

If you are considering applying to train as a teacher, the first site to look at is Teach in Scotland– http://www.teachinscotland.org/getintoteaching/

CVE Scotland offers significant help for Christian teachers: http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/teachers.html You can also contact our National Worker for advice: http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/contact.html

How can I work in a school if I’m not called to be a teacher?

Remember that schools are staffed by a diverse range of people as well as teachers. Clerical staff, technicians, classroom assistants, caretakers, catering staff and cleaners all make vital contributions. As a Christian called by God, you can be a blessing to the school in any of these roles. The website MyJobScotland is the place to start: https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/councils/

How can my church support me/my children?

How can my church support me as a parent?

Prayer support is essential for Christian parents – so ask your church for it regularly.

Many churches run excellent age-related Parenting Courses which help parents develop important skills such as listening and communication -- and help to prepare for the next stage of your child's development (e.g. adolescence).

The church community often includes parents who have experienced the education system with their own children – and/or teachers who can offer a different perspective. Ask them to share their experiences and all that they have learnt.

A group of churches can work together with Christian Values in Education Scotland to organise a special training event for parents whose children are at school. Contact us if you would like more information: http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/contact.html

How can my church help Christian children/young people in their life at school?

First & foremost: Listen. Pastoral relationships and support are vital for young people, helping them with the wide range of issues they meet at school. They may well be more willing to tell a church youth worker that they are being bullied, or that they are having to cope with pressures about sexting -- or even to discuss the school's teaching on moral issues.

Pray: get your church involved with Back to School with God Sunday https://www.suscotland.org.uk/bsg Download resources from the SU Scotland website. Get your church praying regularly for you & your children.

Work with your church to look radically at what is being taught: don’t expect schools to do things which are actually the responsibility of us as Christian parents - or the responsibility of the Church. Schools can (and should) explain the basic ideas of Christianity, but they can do nothing to encourage a child/young person to follow Jesus – or explain the Christian world view in depth.

How can my church provide really relevant Christian education?

Don’t assume that the school will do the church’s job of Christian education. It won’t - and it shouldn’t! Most churches probably need to be much more serious about themselves providing Christian education. We mustn’t abdicate our role to schools or the media.

What sort of topics should children be helped to think through in their churches? Here's a short list to get your thinking started:

  • Identity: Who am I? Why am I? Gender?
  • Current affairs & the shape of History
  • Social media
  • Justice: locally & across the World
  • God and science: consider using the excellent series Introducing the God Question http://www.thegodquestion.tv/introduce

-- maybe the adults in your church would relish thinking through such topics in more depth, not just your children and young people?

How can my church support Christian teachers in the church family?

Treat teachers in the church family as people with a key ministry; they have crucial, high pressured jobs where they can truly be both salt and light in the community. So:

  • pray for them regularly
  • hold commissioning services for them when they start their roles
  • include an education section in your church newsletter
  • establish appropriate mentoring (pastoral support can be critical at key points in the academic year)
  • allow time in services to share about their calling
  • celebrate good news stories.
  • Encourage them to sign up to the Christian Values in Education Scotland website www.cve-scotland.org.uk with its wealth of classroom resources, practical advice, case studies etc. CVE Scotland organises seminars for Christian teachers across Scotland. It is really important to invest in Christian teachers, so encourage them to attend and offer to pay their expenses.

Avoid seeing teachers as merely a resource for the children’s and youth work. They have a distinctive and valuable calling, and recognising this in the life of the church can be of immense benefit. (And often they may prefer to be involved in other aspects of church life, rather than yet more work with children and young people at the weekend!)

How can my church support our local school?

How can my church support our local school?

Be interested. It is important that church leaders encourage the whole church to take an active interest in the life of local schools. Be relational. An offer of support out of the blue (no matter how well-intentioned) is most unlikely to be accepted. Spend time getting to know the school and finding out what they feel they really need, which in the first instance may have nothing to do with RME or school assemblies. The Serve Your Local School website has a wealth of practical ideas: http://syls.org.uk/ In due course, you will find an acceptable opportunity to tell the teaching staff that the church is praying for the school and ask them what they would like prayer for. You may be surprised by the number requests you get!

Be aware. There are numerous do’s and don'ts, and churches are often unnecessarily nervous -- as sometimes so are schools. It's essential that you fully understand both the Permissions and Boundaries, so spend time studying the material at http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/chaplains-churches/permissions-boundaries.html

Be involved. The church community can be a great resource to support the extra-curricular activities of the school by providing people and facilities for out-of-school clubs etc. such as sports, crafts, chess and more. Churches can also be good places to find volunteers to set up one-to-one reading support, mentoring programmes or projects like Prayer Spaces in Schools: http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/resource-centre/item/236-prayer-space-in-schools.html For an excellent short video with lots of ideas, see the video produced by CARE at http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/chaplains-churches/how-to/partner-a-school.html

Be investors. Schools are often in need of funds for equipment, facilities or resources, and churches can be great places to raise these funds. So find out what the school needs – and think about how the church can help to meet that need. For an interesting Case Study, go to http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/chaplains-churches/case-studies/general/item/188-c-5-1-4-it-s-free.html

How can my church support the teachers at my child's school?

  • Pray for them: that's the most important thing of all. As well as gathering possible prayer points from Christian teachers, parents and pupils, you can also register with Pray for Schools: http://www.prayforschools.org/

  • Offer practical help. The simple act of a church leader contacting the local school and asking if it needs any help can be the start of all long-term relationship. Sensitively approached, it will be greatly appreciated by the teaching staff (see some of the following “Any Questions” entries for more detailed ideas).

  • What about organising an annual dinner for the senior teachers in all schools in your community, to thank them for all they doing? Maybe invite some councillors, the Director of Education etc. To find out how one church in Lanarkshire does this, look at the video produced by CARE: http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/chaplains-churches/how-to/partner-a-school.html

How can my church support our local school in prayer?

  • Get in touch with Pray for Schools Scotland: http://www.prayforschools.org/about-us/regions/praying-for-schools-in-scotland/ They have numerous resources and suggested activities, ranging from Back-To-School with God Sunday to Strictly Come Praying events.

  • Start a scheduled prayer meeting for the school. This, of course, needs to be done sensitively. There have been instances where Christian parents shared prayer requests by email which were picked up by the wrong people and caused considerable embarrassment.

  • Once your church has developed a relationship with the local school, ask the teaching staff what they would like prayer for.

  • Invite the headteacher to church to share about the school.

  • Establish an annual week of prayer for the school.

  • Regularly prayer walk the school premises/perimeter.

How can my church support Christian teaching in school assemblies?

For any church that would like to support its local school, this is definitely not the first question to ask! Instead, set out to serve the school community in whatever it needs. The church needs to have an ongoing relationship with the school; an offer of support out of the blue (no matter how well-intentioned) is most unlikely to be accepted. Spend time getting to know the school and finding out what they feel they really need, which in the first instance may have nothing to do with school assemblies. The Serve Your Local School website has a wealth of practical ideas: http://syls.org.uk/

Most Scottish schools have a team of chaplains, and your church leader may well be invited to join this team in due course. School are generally organised by the chaplaincy team, which may additionally include school staff and pupils. Search the CVE Scotland Resource Centre for 100s of ideas for religious observance assemblies: http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/resource-centre.html

All Scottish schools must organise a minimum of six “religious observance” assemblies per year, plus special assemblies for key religious festivals (e.g. Christmas and Easter). These are to help young people reflect on what life is really about, its possible spiritual dimension, etc (hence they are sometimes called Time for Reflection events). For the full picture, see http://www.cve-scotland.org.uk/chaplains-churches/permissions-boundaries/religious-observance.html

How can my church support the teaching of Religious and Moral Education (RME)?

All primary school teachers have to teach RME (Religious and Moral Education). The vast majority try to do so conscientiously yet can find it a challenge because of the lack of detailed understanding of religions and especially of Christianity. Offering additional support can be most welcome, if it is approached in the right way. Secondary schools all have qualified specialist teachers of Religious and Moral Education. Nevertheless, sensitively approached, many of the suggestions below may also be welcome to them.

Here are a number of ways that the local church can be truly supportive:

Can churches or groups of Christian parents start a school?

It is possible to start a private school (which is not supported by funding from the state). There are several successful examples of this in different parts of Scotland. However, at present there is no equivalent of England's Free School initiative north of the Border.

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