Epping St John's school reconnects with faithPosted: 9th October 2019
Epping St John’s Church of England School is reconnecting with its faith and urging students, staff and parents to get on board.
Eposi Ewome, senior acting assistant headteacher, said: “We want the community, parents and students to know who we are and what we are about. One of our drivers is to live well together as a family and so we want to emphasise the importance of building on those relationships. We are here for our students and for their families.
“We are practising some of the things that are linked to Christian beliefs, including reflection and prayer. We want students to understand that Christians accept when things go wrong and ask for forgiveness through prayer. We want them to understand that if they do something wrong, they have to acknowledge it, ask for forgiveness and accept the consequences. That is our way of supporting their growth.”
Local clergy are now spending time in the school every week to give an opportunity for students, staff and parents to ask questions or to simply be there if needed.
A chaplaincy room has been set up to provide a dedicated area for reflection for those of all faiths, not just Christians.
Rev John Fry, vicar of Theydon parish, and Rev Lee Batson, rector of Epping and Area Dean, represent the church in school twice a week.
Rev Fry said: “We are providing a presence in school and acting as a spiritual resource for students and staff. We feel quite honoured to be trusted by the school and we value that.
“We hope the young people will realise vicars are normal people and that we provide a safe space to complement the existing pastoral support they receive in school. It’s recognising there is a spiritual dimension to every human being and enabling people to access that. It’s about having a positive encounter with Christianity and seeing there is something in the value of religion.
“It is not for everyone. But, for young people exploring themselves and growing their spiritual identity, this is an opportunity for them to discover what might provide fulfilment for them.”
Assemblies will be held to celebrate all religious festivals, with students asked to bow their heads in respect when it is the turn of a faith they do not follow.
The school has also introduced a new moto – Aspirational, Courageous, Exceptional (ACE) – with a rewards system to further encourage students to behave in a positive way.
Students can collect ACE points to swap for trips, vouchers, sports equipment and stationery.
Mrs Ewome said: “We want to take the focus away from negative behaviour and instead acknowledge when students do something positive. They can be small acts of kindness, opening a door for someone, saying good morning, making someone smile or helping a peer who does not know where they are going.
“We are looking to boost children’s confidence and show them by doing nice things they will be rewarded. We are trying to get away from detentions and to focus on reward, reward, reward. That creates an environment of wanting to do more.”
The new focus was outlined to parents during expectations evenings.