Sherston CE VC Primary School
Becky Fisher, rural schools and churches worker
Gauzebrook, North Wiltshire
A long-serving teacher’s last week in school was celebrated in church with an inclusive Eucharistic service. The children were prepared through RE lessons and non-confirmed children were given grapes at the altar rail. The benefice’s rural schools worker worked with the ministry team on the one hand and the teachers on the other to ensure a memorable experience was also an effective teaching resource.
The children were already familiar with the church – weekly ‘welly walks’ by the Reception class to the building, regular RE visits (e.g. for a Year 2 lesson on Baptism) and festival trail experiences all make the link between the church and the school more than just being about the buildings. The two are integrated through the village’s shared community experience.
To celebrate the close of a Reception teacher’s twenty years’ service at the rural village school, the church’s ministry team devised an order of service using Jumping Fish’s Exploring Communion in Primary Schools resource. The accessible service involved the school’s children and staff as well as the teacher’s friends and former colleagues and was an effective outreach.
To prepare the children beforehand in class-time, each teacher went through the service with their class, exploring the symbolism of Holy Communion and the story of Easter. Importantly, the learning from the RE lessons and the experience of the community-based service reinforced each other.
The service was geared so that all children could participate (letters had been sent to parents asking for their permission). There was a tangible joy in this celebration of community, and children from the Year 6 class led prayers based on the school’s three core values: care and compassion, thankfulness, and creativity. This reinforced the sense that the ethos of the school is was in harmony with a distinctively Christian context.