St Michael’s CE VC Primary School
Karen Needham, children’s minister
Stoke Gifford, Kingswood and South Gloucestershire
Church schools have the option to teach ‘reserved RE’ – teaching about Christianity from a faith perspective to children whose parents have given consent. Here non-church-going parents have witnessed the impact on their children of nurturing spirituality and faith. This has translated into families from the school attending Messy Church.
As the church’s children’s minister and as a parent, Karen was already a familiar andtrusted person around school. She became aware that there were few Christian teachers who would be confident giving pupils lessons about their faith and has met the need.
Karen meets each year group once a term, concurrently with other activities the schoolprovides. In this special time children can discuss their own understandings and struggles as well as strengthen their faith. They are encouraged to put what they have learned into practice, taking faith out of the classroom and beyond.
In Year 1, about two thirds of children in reserved RE are from church-going families. By Year 6, however, the group of around 30 is mostly comprised of children from non-church-going families. Church-going children encourage friends to come along if they wish and so the Christian message is spread to those who are seeking to know and isn’t forced upon anyone. The commitment of those attending was such that a weekly children’s Alpha Course was successfully run last year for Year 6 in lunch times.
Karen has been stopped in the street by non-church-going parents who are grateful for how reserved RE has helped their child to become more mature, kinder or stronger in the face of difficulties. Through children talking to parents, a monthly Messy Church in the parish rooms hosts around 100 children and parents from mostly non-church-going families at the school.