Orchid Vale Primary School
Mark Tidey, home schools link worker
St Andrew’s, Swindon
Mark works mainly in a local Church school but has cultivated links with a further seven schools. As a Community Governor at Orchid Vale he makes the church visible and brings his own particular skills to the life of the school. Serving as a governor is often described as being a ‘critical friend’. It demands time and effort but is a generous and rewarding endeavour.
Mark was employed as part of the diocese’s strategy to support the housing development in North Swindon. At Orchid Vale Primary this began when he approached the headteacher, offering the support of his experience in collective worship and RE.
Regularly taking a few assemblies a term, a trusting relationship has developed and Mark has been able to help with holding a ‘prayer space’ (being careful not to alienate those of no faith but capably catering for Christian pupils and staff) and Year 1 visits to the church. The church is quite hidden behind trees at the top of a hill so this visit, amongst other things, has boosted its profile. Mark’s role as a church worker has been a significant factor in making people in the local area more aware of Christians in the community.
Through Mark’s link with Orchid Vale, the school approached his church to represent community interests on its governing body. St Andrew’s suggested Mark himself take the role and now he has a governor remit to assist the school in evaluating and developing the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) aspect of the curriculum. In this role he is able to bring his own knowledge and expertise. He sees the opportunity of governorship as a Christian service. On a governing body, people’s different skills and backgrounds bring the range necessary to help manage all the various aspects of a school.
Whilst Mark is careful in school to differentiate between his church and governor roles, being a church worker has heightened the visibility of the church. By offering his services beyond the Church school, he has earned recognition of Christian action in the community.