Do you talk about Tough Stuff?

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Last week Step launched its next Tough Stuff course.

Life is full of emotional rollercoasters. The highs are easy to manage, but the lows can be devistating. It only takes a few minutes in school before you come across someone who is living through a low time. Step has been well placed to help students with these lows and has just launched its next course to support students experiencing Tough Stuff.

The Tough Stuff Course material helps young people to explore feelings related to loss in all its forms, for example bereavement, family breakdown or a move to a new area.

At the end of the course your young people will have developed:

- A greater awareness of their feelings

 - Strategies to cope with difficult emotions

 - Confidence talking about their situation

 - Empathy through hearing from others 

It runs for 6-8 weeks for up to 10 students at a time.

Our trained Step team deliver an assembly or lesson to introduce the course, interview students to check they are ready for the course and provide all the required resources free of charge.

If you would like to help young people managing their feelings of loss, or would like to help young people in other ways, please do contact Terrie.

100 Years Later: Why Remember?

Every year, when 11th November arrives, we pause our busy lives for a moment and remember those who gave up everything while on active service. 

But why do we do this? Why is it important to remember wars from so long ago and the people they affected?

I put this very question to Beaumont’s Year 7 students in yesterday’s Remembrance Assembly. We concluded that it’s important to remember the past because the past isn’t separate from us; it’s part of who we are now.

For example, we talked about how people’s actions during the First World War impacted our world in ways that we can still see 100 years later.

We also thought about the imprints we leave on one another and how we carry those with us through life. Even when death takes people away from us and we have to move forward without them, it doesn’t mean that those people are no longer significant - they’ve helped shape us, and that lasts long after they’ve gone. Remembering the people who’ve shaped us is a way of celebrating those people and it helps us to understand more about ourselves.

So after the assembly, Year 7 joined the rest of the school in an act of remembrance. Every student wrote the name of someone they’d like to remember on a poppy, which they then placed on a Remembrance Hill in the school’s reception area. 

The display they’ve created is a moving reminder of Armistice Day for everyone who passes through the school. It’s also a wonderful tribute to the many individuals of the past century who have shaped the Beaumont community of 2018.

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Were there news reporters in Jesus' day?

The title above is just one of the many many questions we were asked at Verulam’s Year 7 Christianity Day yesterday, where 180 boys looked at the life of Jesus in great detail. No doubt the question was prompted by an activity in their session on The Miracles of Jesus, where students had to produce a news report about either Jesus turning water into wine, healing a paralysed man or feeding the 5000. They would interview Jesus and eye witnesses and come to a conclusion about what that miracle revealed about Jesus’ identity.

However, the question also came from a longing to know if the stories were really true. Other questions included ‘who wrote the Bible and how do we know it was true?’, ‘were there any eye witnesses?’ and ‘how do we know what Jesus was famous for when it was such a long time ago?’.

The boys at Verulam were engaged, enthusiastic and really interested in the sessions we delivered. There was a genuine interest in the topics and as these questions show, there was a desire to know if what they were hearing about and discussing was something they could trust for themselves or whether it was just ‘fake news’.

The day was a huge success and one boy thanked a member of the team by describing our Justice Mat as “cooler than cool”. High praise indeed!

 Six of our wonderful team as they marked the answers of our Inter-form relay quiz at the end of the day.

Six of our wonderful team as they marked the answers of our Inter-form relay quiz at the end of the day.

Do numbers count?

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Statistics are an interesting way to communicate information. Some people love statistics others not so much. It's not one of my strengths! But it is one of my responsibilities.

Every month Step records what lessons and activities our team has delivered. Having just finished entering the data for September and October I was amazed to see we have taught 299 lessons (135 in September and 164 in October). Schools are about to break for half term, so this data only represents the first half of the Autumn term and also doesn’t include the 89 other activities we did in school and the 11 things we’ve done with churches. 

Let me give you some context to help you see why I was so struck by these numbers. 

When Step started recording data (academic year 2006-7) it wasn't as sophisticated as it is now. But in that year the lesson count stood at 265 lessons.... for the whole year! 

In the academic year 2006-7, the Step team taught the Suffering lesson the most, 29 times over the course of that year. This is a consistent number for the Suffering lesson, it was taught 31 times last year, and is being taught from November 2018 in 3 of our schools. 

In the first 8 weeks of this term, the team has taught iMatter (Life is a Journey) 32 times. It will be interesting to see if it remains our most popular lesson.

To be able to be so productive we need to recognise and celebrate the numerous volunteers that help Step to achieve such staggering numbers.

Thank you to all our volunteers who work with a member of our team to meet and interact with students in these lessons. Thank you for being committed to showing the love of Jesus to our young people. 

Do contact me if you would like to become more involved working in the schools or helping behind the scenes (like entering in the data to record the what we do).

Terrie




“The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed”

This week we piloted a new lesson in St George’s School with some substantial theological themes.

We had been briefed to teach the students on Jewish Roots in Christianity. It had taken me a while some years before, to appreciate that messianic prophecies about Jesus are present throughout the whole Bible’s narrative, so it was essential to help the students to reflect on some key Old Testament stories.

We used the familiar Walk Through the Bible lesson as a base. This involved the students acting out some significant stories from the Old Testament in order to build their knowledge of the narrative timeline. We had plenty of props!

Young people into video gaming (which usually makes up a good 50% of a class) have become familiar with the concept of finding ‘Easter eggs’ in the games they play. These are hidden bits of code within a game which reveal new parts of the game, unlock mysteries about authorship, or even reveal clues about other games soon to become available.

So we were able to use the concept of ‘Easter eggs’ hidden in Old Testament scripture to help the Year 8s explore where messages foreshadowing Jesus Christ could be found. Together we delved into the stories of Adam & Eve and the Fall, Abraham & Isaac, Moses & the Passover, and David’s defeat of Goliath as we searched the Old Testament to find clues about the Son of God.

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Loreto Retreats by Numbers

Last Wednesday we rounded off a wonderful half term in Loreto College by spending the day with Year 10. It was the last of 5 retreat days booked in the school this term and a chance to meet more of the fabulous young women who make up the Loreto community. 

It’s impossible to sum up the fun, challenge, energy, conversations and discovery of all the 5 days here. But to give you an idea, I present ‘Step’s Loreto Retreat Days by Numbers’!

5 days

125 sessions

800 students

1 half-chewed £20 note

20 metres of handwritten psalms

1 record-breaking score in the Fairtrade Game

20 Step staff and volunteers

480 handmade bracelets

15 form group prayers

4 stuffed sheep

1650 biscuits

I am hugely grateful to the school for having us, to Ss Alban and Stephen Church for letting us borrow their space, and to all the volunteers who helped make the retreats happen.

Thanks also to every student for getting stuck in and making all the hard work worth it – we loved meeting you!

As always, if you want to find out how you could be part of our retreat days, just contact Terrie.

Sara

Everything is Spiritual at Townsend

Year 13’s Everything is Spiritual journey has begun. Over a period of three sessions have been and will be exploring Rob Bell’s Everything is Spiritual engaging lecture.

To help the students engage and explore what was being said further they were asked to draw representations of how the universe began and then to draw our universe starting with the earth and working their way outwards.

The sixth formers came up with some fantastic creations and representations which you can see in the photos below.

Is there any substance to your relationships?

On Tuesday Step spent an enjoyable day with the Year 12s at St Columba’s College. 

The students researched ethical shopping, role-played the experiences of a refugee family, debated revenge vs. forgiveness and explored some of Jesus’ ideas. These experiences introduced them to the concept that our relationships can often be seen as: outward to the world around us, inward towards ourselves, downward from God and upward towards God.

Step Days aren’t simply about thinking hard and considering life differently. The students ate amazing food, competed in various games (included ‘blindfold pictionary’). They were also entertained by photos of the day and finally challenged by a short talk questioning whether our faith has the appearance of power, but actually lacks any substance.  

The school has shared some wonderful photos of the day on Twitter @StColumbasRE.

If you would like to be involved in Step Days, we need people to run workshops, take photos, run games, make lunch and serve drinks. Please do contact Terrie if you would like to find out more.

Annual Report Now Available

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Last week we sent out our new brochure style Annual Report – which has been created to reflect the quality of interactions, resources and engagements Step offers to schools in St Albans and Harpenden. Click here to see a pdf version and please contact us if you want to receive a hard copy.

Inside the report you will find information about Step’s new resources, new members of staff as well as our new initiative called iMatter.

We are excited to see how God has used the various skills and passions of all those involved in Step –staff and volunteers alike, as well as those who support us financially and those who uphold us in prayer.

We have a number of ways you could become involved with Step to make 2018/19 an even better year. Please contact Terrie on terrie@stepschoolswork.org.uk or telephone 01727 893540 if you are interested in joining the team.

“Thank you for the work you do with our students.”

On Friday, Step had the privilege of taking part in Nicholas Breakspear’s inset day. The day consisted of celebrating the success of the previous day’s Open Evening, plus some excellent presentations exploring issues related to grief, loss and mental health.

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Step was given the opportunity to talk about its work to enhance the school’s existing excellent pastoral provision for the students #nbsproud. It was a meaningful moment to join the staff in considering how we could help the students support themselves and others in the areas of anxiety, stress, grief, loss and relationships. We will shortly be launching several courses to help equip them in these areas.

As I walked round the school today it was so encouraging to have several conversations with staff thanking Step for its work and also discussing how we could work together to support the students.

If you would like to join Step’s team of mentors or course volunteers please do contact Terrie to find out more.

And now for something completely different...

Pop into a St Albans or Harpenden church on a Sunday and there’s a chance you’ll find one of the Step team, maybe sharing stories from schools, preaching as a guest speaker, or updating the congregation on our latest plans. 

Occasionally, you might walk in and find that we’ve turned the entire church upside down. 

This is what happened at St Luke’s Church, Cell Barnes Lane recently. Step relies on the support of the local Christian community and loves to keep them up-to-date on our work in schools, but it can be hard to capture everything we do in a Sunday morning talk. 

So instead, we decided to let the congregation of St Luke’s experience what we do for themselves.

There were three different areas to choose from. In a large upstairs room, church members of all ages used iPods and our newest Space Mat to explore ideas around justice. 

We filled the café area with table-top activities, including playing cards designed by Youthscape, which sparked some great discussions over cups of coffee. 

Our Job resource featured in the main part of the church. We moved chairs aside and made space for people to walk through the story of Job, guided by iPods and illustrations.

 Exploring the story of Job

Exploring the story of Job

We closed the morning by worshipping together and sharing each other’s experiences of the resources. It was wonderful to hear people of all generations talking about how much they took from the morning, and to see some younger members of the congregation still immersed in the activities long after the service had officially ended! 

A huge thanks to everyone at St Luke’s for inviting us in and for throwing yourselves into the morning so enthusiastically. 

If you’re wondering about the different ways that Step could feature in your Sunday services, drop us a message!

Sara

Step in Local Paper as Verulam Smash their FEED Record with 7181 Items

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Verulam School collected an astonishing 7181 items for FEED, which is Vineyard Church’s foodbank. This is a new record for any school (click here for a list of the best collections of all time). It was helped enormously by a student bringing in 3220 packets of biscuits (pictured here in boxes) from a confectionary company his mum works for. The bar has certainly been raised.

On September 21st, we posted a story about the 4 Year 10 lads pooling their pocket money to buy items from Tesco saying it may go to press. It did indeed make the Herts Advertiser, pictured here, if you want to read it.

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The Big Fish

Fun-Frenzied-Fresh are all words I would use to describe the brand new lunchtime club launched at St George’s School this term, where I had the opportunity to join the School Chaplain as he led a lively session with around 20 Year 7 & 8 students.

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We began with some quick games including competing to catching paper fish with a magnetic fishing rod, a race wafting paper fish along the carpet with a wad of newspaper, and a memory game – seeing who could remember the most items on the tray!

The session concluded with part 2 of a bible study into the story of Jonah with particular reflection around his realisation that he couldn’t escape God’s plans for him, and a challenge to think about whether we worship the one true God in our lives or put smaller gods above him.

The students loved the session, actively participating but also listening and joining in the brief bible study and discussion at the end. It was so encouraging to see this lively witness taking place within the school and being so well attended - apparently 30 students had attended the previous week!

We give thanks to God for how he is using this club within the school and ask that he would encourage more students within this age bracket to choose to attend.

Our office is an amazing space. 

It has the usual office components of desks, chairs, meetings, resources and stuff you'd expect in an office. But this week it was also a training space for our team First Aid Course, a Year 12 Retreat space and where we cook and share lunch. 
As volunteers co ordinator, the lunch and the Retreat have a specific interest for me.

Once a month our Admin team comes into our office to stuff envelopes, laminate, cut, prepare, pack and create. It's a couple of hours on a Friday morning towards the end of each month (varies slightly between 3rd and 4th week). This team supports the work of Step by helping us to be ready.  

In the Retreat space this week I was able to welcome three people who wanted to see Step at work with a view to joining us.

Over the years lots of people told me that they love what Step does, but they have lots of questions about what would be expected of them. They worry about what they are 'allowed to say' to students. Visiting a Retreat is the easiest way to see for themselves and be in the best position to make a good choice. 

If you'd like to join the Admin team, or visit a Retreat as a potential volunteer please do contact Terrie on Terrie@stepschoolswork.org.uk



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Year 10 Boys Excel at Feed Collection

Every year, Verulam School collect items for Feed, the food bank run by The Vineyard Church. Their record is 4851 items, which they are attempting to beat this year.

This morning, four Year 10 boys turned up with a massive 346 items (pictured in the crates below) that they had bought with their own money. One of the boys has been a regular big giver to Feed since he joined in Year 7 and he has gradually persuaded more and more of his friends to join him. They even negotiated with Tesco to give them a 10% discount as it was for charity.

The school are trying to get it into the paper so we’ll update you if that makes it to print. We are always blown away by the sacrificial giving that students make to this worthy cause, showing us that young people really do care for their community.

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What is Church?

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Step had the privilege of spending time with Loreto College Year 11 on Tuesday this week. They had five different sessions during the day and I was part of the team leading one in particular.

In our session we reflected together on what it means to be church and what it means to be a school community. By setting out 4 different reflective but also active spaces we hoped to focus on the idea that there are different relationships that exist within school and faith communities.

Upward relationship - our communication with God

Downward relationship - His communication with us

Two outward relationships - to each other and also to the world around us

It was wonderful to allow the students to think about these areas and realise that relationships form an integral part of church and community.

The students wrote their own psalms to express their upward relationship to God. The girls honestly reflected on what they would like to say to God and the questions that they have. The things they wrote were so great we have made a short video of their Psalm Scroll which you can view below.

It is my last week at Step before I go on maternity leave so it feels like such a privilege to have been able to open up this space for reflection.

Do consider whether you would like to join our retreat team, it really is so rewarding!

Thanks for reading, look out for more news,

Charlotte

Welcome to your new school!!!

Step had the privilege of being part of the Year 7 induction carousel at Townsend for the start of their secondary school journey. We saw each form group twice over two consecutive days.

On the first day we thought about our lives as journeys. The students spent time thinking about where they were in their life currently and then thought about the experiences they’ve had already and the hopes they have for the future. They then made a bracelet that would remind them of the journey so far and the journey yet to come.

On the second day the students competed in a Church of England Quiz where each form tried their best to have the highest score in attempt to win a prize for their form. We then thought about Butterflies and the transition they make from caterpillar to butterfly. The students watched a video of the transformation process which is amazing )but slightly bizarre)!!! They then thought about what they would miss in primary school and what they were looking forward to in secondary school and wrote their thoughts down on a butterfly.

It was great to meet the students again after their transition day in July and spend some time with them at the very beginning of their school journey. We have lots of fantastic opportunities to work with the all the Year groups in Townsend this term. If you want to find out how you could be part of a fantastic team of volunteers and join in please click on the link.

Loreto Retreat Days: 1 down, 4 to go!

On Wednesday, a team of Step staff and volunteers descended on Loreto College to run our first of 5 retreat days this term. 

The Year 7 students threw themselves into 5 different sessions with gusto. They used props to act out stories of the Old Testament, examined the evidence for the existence of Jesus, and strengthened their newly-formed friendships through team-building games. 

They also physically ‘retreated’ away from school and down the road to Ss Alban and Stephen Catholic Church. Here they reflected on their lives as journeys and made bracelets to remind themselves of their significant milestones. In the main church, they used iPods and 8 activities to explore different ways that we can worship.

We ended the day together in the church by talking about how we’re invited to be part of the ‘body of Christ’ – one body of many parts, each with unique qualities. Each girl took home a puzzle piece to remind her, at the start of her secondary school journey, that she is a unique and valued part of a bigger picture.

The day was only the second activity Step has ever run in Loreto. The feedback from students has been very positive, with some suggesting we improve the retreat by making it longer! (We’re going to need more caffeine…)

We’re enormously grateful to every member of the team for making it possible, and to God for ensuring it was a brilliant start to Step’s relationship with Year 7. 

Do pray for the upcoming retreat days with the other year groups and contact Terrie if you want to get involved – we’d love to add your unique qualities to this picture!

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Three planks for the price of one!

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Yesterday, the Step staff team had the privilege of spending a day at Holy Trinity Frogmore getting ready for the new school year. We are thankful for Rev. Nick Weir, who introduced our day with an excellent reflection about Mary and Martha and balancing our work and our spiritual lives.

We then had the privilege of spending the day with the leader of The Network Church, Trevor Withers (pictured here), who helped us to contemplate how we effectively share the gospel to an ever-changing culture. 

He left us pondering, how can the message of the cross be explained not only as a legal transaction from guilt to innocence (plank 1), but also a message about moving from fear to power (plank 2) and shame to honour (plank 3)?  

Introducing Jeremy Bottrill

 Step is proud to introduce our latest Schools Coordinator - local youth work legend - Jeremy Bottrill! He will be covering Charlotte's maternity leave and leading the work in Harpenden. We are thoroughly overjoyed that he will be using his skills and experience in the local secondary schools and look forward to learning lots from him.  In case you've missed who is the Step staff team, we have from left to right - Jeremy, Charlotte, Terrie, Sara, Claire, Helena, Geoff and Chris is in the foreground. This amazing team leads 37 volunteers working in 14 local schools supported by roughly another 10 people doing an amazing job behind the scenes.  If you would like to join this team, 'telling the next generation' and seeing young lives changed for the better, please  contact T  errie .

Step is proud to introduce our latest Schools Coordinator - local youth work legend - Jeremy Bottrill! He will be covering Charlotte's maternity leave and leading the work in Harpenden. We are thoroughly overjoyed that he will be using his skills and experience in the local secondary schools and look forward to learning lots from him.

In case you've missed who is the Step staff team, we have from left to right - Jeremy, Charlotte, Terrie, Sara, Claire, Helena, Geoff and Chris is in the foreground. This amazing team leads 37 volunteers working in 14 local schools supported by roughly another 10 people doing an amazing job behind the scenes.

If you would like to join this team, 'telling the next generation' and seeing young lives changed for the better, please contact Terrie.