The Autumn term is now underway with schools returning after the summer holidays across the nations. The beginning of the academic year is always full of change and transition but this year feels especially significant. At such a crucial time we believe it is right to focus on schools and the children and young people who attend them.
Those young people who attend school - shout out to the home-schoolers out there - spend a huge amount of their time in school and much more than they do in our groups and church settings. So we want to encourage looking for every way to pray for and support local schools as possible. It may not be appropriate or even possible to go into your local school to provide that support but there are always ways to get involved.
A great place to start would be the National Day of Prayer For Schools. Youthscape and Pais are bringing together people from all over the nations to pray as one for our schools. On Tuesday 28th September, they will be hosting a range of online and in-person prayer times throughout the day as well as charing videos and other resources about how to pray and support your local school, their staff and the pupils who attend them. Their vision is to see every school have local people praying regularly for them. We encourage you to get involved - especially in the morning prayer gathering via Zoom (time TBC but it's likely to be around 7:30am so that teachers can participate too).
If that all sounds like a big first step, we challenge you to consider the following: What one thing would you pray for schools? There are so many aspects of school culture and being part of the staff and students there that you could focus on but why not pick one thing and commit to pray for it? Pray for it now, pray for it on 28th September and keep praying for it regularly throughout the academic year.
Why not contact your local school to let them know you are praying for them and to ask them what one thing they would like you to pray for? Please do share what your praying for on our social media using the tag #prayonething too.
If you are already involved in schools ministry or are looking for inspiration for how to start, we'd like to draw your attention to the Boost conference taking place next March. Boost is a partnership project featuring a number of organisations based in the south east of England - including Urban Saints - but the conference is open to anyone, wherever you are based. After running a series of online seminars throughout the pandemic, Boost will return as an in-person conference in London on Saturday 12th March 2022. The theme of the next Boost event is "Reimagining Schoolswork" and will explore how we adapt and improve the support and participation we can offer to schools beyond Covid-19.
If next March feels a long way off, there's something you can do to help the Boost team right now. The keynote speaker for Boost (Dr Sarah Holmes, Liverpool Hope University) is conducting some research into the impact of Covid-19 on schools ministry and she is looking for anyone who has seen their involvement in schoolswork impacted by the pandemic to complete a survey to help her research. The survey is open until the end of September so if you or anyone you know have been affected by the impact of the pandemic in this way, please get involved.
The other way that you can support your local school - or in particular the children and young people in your groups that attend the local schools - is to explore the experience of going to school in your group sessions. As mentioned at the start of this article, this time of year is full of different experiences and emotions for young people relating to starting school again - especially if it is their first time in a new school. Energize has loads of resources and ideas for supporting children and young people at this time and we've even rounded up the most appropriate ones for this time of year into one handy page! You can check out the Transitions resources at the link below - and if you don't currently have an Energize subscription, you can try it for free for 30 days now too.
At this crucial time for young people returning to schools, we encourage you to get involved. You don't have to be a parent to make a difference and you don't have to launch a full-blown schools ministry to help. Just do something. Pray something. Together we can make a huge difference for our local schools and communities.