One of the key features of the Curriculum for Excellence is partnership working. Partnerships facilitate the resourcing of schools and help a school to be embedded in the community.
Schools Workers from the voluntary sector (including Christian organisations and churches) can play a key role in supporting schools. This can go far beyond taking School Assemblies/Religious Observance, as you’ll see from the other parts of the Schools Worker section of this site. Of course, Christians must behave appropriately in schools, and this means fully understanding the Permissions and Boundaries that you work under. That’s what this section is all about.
What does this mean in practice?
Any school’s role is to support children and young people’s learning and development. This includes equipping children and young people to examine differing values/beliefs and enabling them to make their own informed choices and decisions1. No teacher or schools worker or other volunteer, whether Christian, secularist or whatever, has the right to manipulate a pupil or to present a single belief system as the only one they can choose to follow. Schools workers who come from a faith position serve schools in a variety of practical ways. They help the school in its task of giving alternative viewpoints (not just the secular world-view) to children and young people and equipping them to choose between them.
What permissions and boundaries do I have as a schools worker?
- 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
- If you want to go deeper into the Scottish Government’s curricular guidelines and how your work can relate to them, our Survey of Relevant Themes within Curriculum for Excellence is essential reading
- Read “Secular vs Plural in Scottish Schools” by Kieran Turner of the EA
How can I reassure a school that I fully understand the Do’s and Don’ts of schools work?
- When you first meet, share the Protocol for Partnership Working with the school (see also “How to…approach a School”). Scripture Union Scotland is already signed up to this Protocol, but it is also available for use by any other Christian Schools Worker or organisation.
- If you are coming to the school over a period of time, explore whether it would be helpful (both to the school and yourself) to make a Partnership Agreement
- Be alert to the sheer breadth of ways in which you can offer relevant support to a school. Have a good look at the “How to….” and “It’s Happening!” parts of the Schools Worker section of this site. They have a great deal of important and practical advice
How do I demonstrate the educational worth of Christian Values in Education?
- Schools must demonstrate the educational worth/impact of everything they do. The more evidence there is that the development of children and young people is being helped by an activity, the more a Head Teacher will be in favour of it. The truth is that there’s a great deal of anecdotal evidence showing the really positive effect of involving a schools worker in a school, but not nearly enough hard evidence. Yet to collect the evidence is quite easy.Take the Evaluation sheet as a starting point, and talk to the teacher(s) whom you work with about how you could use it together….if you produce some evaluation evidence, the Head Teacher will love it – and so will Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools next time they visit! And you’ll learn a great deal from what the pupils tell you, which will further improve what you’re doing.
- Get pupils (whether primary or secondary) fully involved with your work. Share with your teacher contact (and then with the Head Teacher) the Anytown School Chaplaincy Policy. Although the model given is for a secondary school, it can equally be adapted for Primary use. 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 developing:
- Pupil voice in a range of whole school issues (not just RO Assemblies, but also charity and other initiatives)
- Partnership with the community
- Pupil leadership and empowerment
1"...opportunities for young people to reflect meaningfully on different points of view and values, including their own. It creates chances to think about the nature and possible meaning of life and humans' place in the world. It can promote critical thinking, supporting the development of an awareness that not all people think the same or share the same ideas and experiences about life." (Scottish Government letter to Pettitions Committee, 17 October 2013)