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30th September 2022

This week's message from Andrew Teale, Diocesan Director of Education 

No Comfort Zone
 On 30th Sept in ‘Reflections for Daily Prayer’, Christopher Herbert draws our attention to Paul’s frequent debating and teaching in synagogues, contrasted with less frequent accounts of his engagement with gentile (non-jewish) audiences. Paul was from a Jewish background and so, we can surmise, would have been far more comfortable in a synagogue than the temples dedicated to the Greek Gods, for example. After drawing this observation about Paul’s bias towards a more familiar context, Christopher goes on to say, “Before we feel too superior, we might humbly acknowledge that we all gravitate towards the known rather than the unknown. It’s called human nature”.
He is right, of course. How often do we sit together at a wedding or Christening, with our closest most familiar family and friends as opposed to sitting with the people we see rarely or know least well?
Imagine then what it must feel like to be a child joining a new school, having just arrived in the country. No English, no knowledge of expectations or cultural norms. No friends. No knowledge of what might be about to happen. No ‘comfort zone’. Most of us have never been through that experience. How must that feel to be so far away from anything familiar and predictable?
They do perhaps have the one advantage of still being children, of course. Children’s sense of what is ‘normal’ is different because so much of life in general will be new and unfamiliar as they learn about their surroundings and how things work. Children all need to be able to adapt to change as they learn and grow but even so, what a frightening experience it must be to let go of the parental hand and place the faith in the smiling stranger who welcomes them on the first day into a very unfamiliar school environment. Little surprise that sometimes there are a few tears.
Across the diocese, I see our schools moving heaven and earth to warmly welcome children into their communities from afar. Some are refugees from war torn places and their comfort zones may have already been destroyed. Others may simply be children of new workers at the local hospital or military families or agricultural workers.

Click here to continue reading Andrew's message...

Last week we were very excited to announce that we have been awarded a research grant from the Growing Faith Foundation for an action research project to explore developing prayer resources for children.

Thank you to those who have already responded; we are still actively looking for church schools and their churches to get involved in this exciting initiative. The project will explore, ‘How can we as churches and church schools encourage primary school children to develop a prayer life outside of the school setting?

Mark Harrington will be leading the research over the next 14 months (October 22 – Dec 23) and will explore children’s attitudes to prayer in school, church and home. Resources will then be created to support children’s prayer and reflection at home, school and church.

After the resources have been trialled by the local schools and churches, the children will be re-interviewed to evaluate their impact, before the final report and recommendations for resources are shared.

If you would like to know more about how your school and local church can be involved then please register your interest via email to
Important National SIAMS Online Session Update 

Thursday 3 November from 10am to 11.30am or 6pm to 7.30pm –  All staff, governors, and clergy of Church of England and Methodist schools are invited to attend this national online session which will be led by the National Director of SIAMS. Dr Margaret James will set out the ways in which SIAMS will develop from September 2023, explaining what the developments will mean for schools. 

The National SIAMS Team thank all who have already registered. Due to high demand they are now asking Diocesan Teams to share the session links with those who are interested in attending and have yet to register. 

Please contact to request your live link, stating which session you would like to view.

Spiritual Gardens Book Offer

Jumping Fish publication have reduced the price of the excellent guide ‘ Creating a Multi-sensory Spiritual Garden in your School’ by Shahne Vickery from £23.00 to £9.99. This book provides both visual inspiration and helpful information for schools wanting to develop a reflective garden.  To make use of this offer please visit: Creating a Multi-sensory Spiritual Garden in Your School – Jumping Fish Publications

Forthcoming Diocesan Online Training & Development 

Christian Distinctiveness and Collective Worship training for all: RE training: Governor training: SIAMS courses for those due to be inspected this year:
Please see our Education Events Page for a full list of our training courses.  An unlimited number of places at the majority of our courses are included for all  Partnership Schools.

Thank you to those who have already confirmed their Partnership Agreement for this academic year. 

Please do get in touch with the Education Team if you wish to discuss our Partnership Agreement and the support on offer. Details of our Diocesan Partnership Agreement  are available in the link.

Collective Worship Videos
Next week’s worship video is ready for you to use in school. If you haven’t received your video link yet then please check that you have submitted your Partnership Agreement (see details below).
What Kind of Fruit?: Collective Worship Video
For the next few weeks we are exploring the ‘Teachings of Jesus’ as our theme for some of our collective worship sessions. This week we explored the teaching from Luke chapter 6 verses 43-46, Jesus teaches about our character producing good fruit with reference to Galatians 5, the fruit of the spirit too.

The reflections sheet provides further ideas for prayer and reflection to be used both in school and at home. It is designed to be sent home to help families, who wish to, continue exploring the worship theme.  

The video link and further reflections sheet will be sent directly to schools who have signed up to this year’s Partnership Agreement.  If you would like your school community to benefit from our weekly Collective Worship Videos, please contact the Education Team at  or call on 07539 372748 and we can talk through the Partnership Agreement options available to you.
Andrew's message continued...
I often think of schools as sacred places. If you are privileged to have licence to cross the threshold of a school, not just the visitor reception area, but the classrooms and the corridors, you enter a place where precious, priceless interactions take place every single day. Schools are places where the vulnerable are protected, where fragile confidence is nurtured alongside enabling academic skills. Every single conversation and non-verbal interaction, shapes and nurtures the character and capabilities of our young people. Teaching a child to read is a truly incredible thing to do. What could we possibly spend our time doing that could be more valuable to another human being?
Yet there is something even more impressive when we see children and young people ‘settling in’ to the loving pattern and nurturing routine of life in one of our schools when they have come from so far away and are so removed from all that they know and understand.
Surely, we do God’s work when we enable these children and families to flourish in their new surroundings and enable them to feel at home in our schools. Thank you for this wonderful work to create a welcoming sanctuary in our schools across the diocese, especially for those most vulnerable families who have nowhere else to turn.
Collect for the 15th Sunday after Trinity
God, who in generous mercy sent the Holy Spirit
upon your Church in the burning fire of your love:
grant that your people may be fervent
in the fellowship of the gospel
that, always abiding in you,
they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

We pray too for Anna Cook and the team at Clunbury CE Primary who have had a SIAMs inspection this week. Also for Alex Davies and the team at Canon Pyon who have their SIAMs inspection scheduled for next week.
The Lord bless you and keep you in the days ahead as we navigate though the next week in school.  Have a restful weekend.
Canon Andrew Teale
Diocesan Director of Education

For further information and updates from the wider Diocese please see the regular bulletins issued by the central communications team.

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