‘Who is Jesus?’ and His Miracles

Over the last couple of weeks at Townsend we have been exploring who Jesus is and looking at some of his miracles in more detail with Year 8. We have had some wonderful discussions and great questions.

Screenshot 2019-10-18 at 16.11.09.png

During the lesson we focus on how we know people have existed, the evidence for Jesus’ existence, the claims Jesus made, and six of his miracles.

We also talk through the 30 Second Gospel and look at a quote from C. S. Lewis which challenges the students to explore Jesus’ claim thoroughly.

C. S. Lewis said, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

The students then get to make their choice and vote on whether they think Jesus was telling the truth, crazy or lying. It was encouraging that the majority of students in each class voted to say Jesus was telling the truth.

We’ve had a very enjoyable time running these lessons. If you would be interested in getting involved with sessions like these, please contact Terrie.

Not one, not two but four Alphas

images.png

Running the Alpha course in school has always been an aspiration for Step. It’s an amazing opportunity to journey with young people as they learn about Jesus. They get to consider the cross, grapple with prayer and discover the importance of the bible. Alpha also covers how to have faith, who the Holy Spirit is, what church is and what to do with the rest of our lives. It’s a fantastic way to provide young people with enough information to make good choices about themselves and faith.

Over the last few years Step has seen a growing opportunity to run Alpha courses in schools. Last year we even managed to run several Alpha courses. Each course has been great fun and the young people involved found the sessions helpful, informative, community building and, for a few, pivotal in developing their growing faith.

This year we were very excited to start the term with two Alpha groups ready to launch. It felt like a bit of a record. Both courses started well and each week we’ve seen attendance grow and conversations deepen.

Amazingly, we are about to launch another two Alpha courses straight after ½ term. That means we will deliver four Alphas courses in this term alone. These two new courses are with sixth form students, which means the team needs to gird themselves for the challenging and thought-provoking experience coming their way.

IMG_6728.jpg

Please do pray that God will provide Step with the right team members for the two new courses and also for the existing teams already facilitating these courses.

If you would like to find out more about Step’s courses follow the link or make contact with Terrie.

Should We Care About The Environment?

At Townsend this week the Year 11s have been exploring why caring for the environment should be a Christian concern. Step visited all four classes over the week, speaking to around 120 students in total.

Earth Poem jpeg.jpg

During the lesson they watched video clips, read poetry, discussed scripture and completed a quiz to work out how environmentally friendly they are.

I was greatly encouraged by a recent conversation with a Year 12 student at Townsend, who told me how useful these lessons can be to GCSE students.

He said, “Thank you for all the lessons you did with us last year. I received an 8 for my RE GCSE and some of the scripture I used in my exam was from what you taught us.” It was a fantastic chance conversation and a great reminder of the positive impact our work can have.

My hope is that the lesson has given the Year 11s a really good grounding on why Christians should care about the environment, but also on why we should all care about the environment. It’s a reminder that everything that we do to help makes a difference, even if only on a small scale.

We finished the lesson by watching a video designed to challenge and encourage people to Protect, Restore and Fund. The clip features Greta Thunberg who sometimes finds herself up against controversy, but is a similar age to the students in the class. It was a great way to show the students that age doesn’t need to hold them back. If you are interested in the clip you can watch it below.

Helena :)

Our 2019 Annual Report is Ready

20191008_085251.jpg

Last week we sent out our 2019 Annual Report – which reflects 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 would like to receive a hard copy. The report is full of great information but I would like to draw your attention to page three of the report, which details the 1,910 activities Step delivered to schools last year - God has answered our prayers in amazing ways!

2018/19 was a challenge in terms of finance but we have ended the year in a relatively positive position, thanks to the generosity of supporters responding to our need. Expenses were £7.6k above our income for the year. We are particularly delighted to let you know that since the report has been issued, we have some Year 7 lessons booked in October and November at the new Katherine Warington School in Harpenden!

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 2019/20 an even better year. Please click here for more details of our 2020 Vision campaign if you are interested in making a financial gift to Step, or contact Terrie on terrie@stepschoolswork.org.uk or telephone 01727 893540 if you are interested in volunteering for Step or want further information.

Claire

Autumn Retreats (because summer is SO last term)

Traditionally, Step’s Retreat Days have been thought of as a summer term thing. Anyone who receives our weekly prayer calendar will know that June and July are a blur of delightful chaos as schools release their students, sometimes whole year groups at a time, for an entire day of Step activities on various themes.

Recently, however, schools have been booking an increasing number of retreat days in the autumn term. 

We’ve delivered six in the past four weeks, with another five to go before the end of term. We’ve found that autumn term retreats are a great opportunity to meet the brand new Year 7s. They’re also well timed to help students at every stage of their secondary journey prepare for what the year ahead holds.

For example, this week we ran a whole day on the topic of stress for the Year 11s at Loreto College. We wanted to do a few things:

  • Help the students to recognise and understand their response to stressful situations

  • Give them tools to cope with stress and anxiety

  • Provide space for them to relax and have fun together

  • Explore the peace that God promises us

It was a day of chat, laughter, mess, singing, discussion, creativity, prayer, games and building on our relationships with the excellent students and staff at Loreto. In amongst all that, it was also a day of celebrating that peace that’s greater than anything we can understand.

With so many more retreats coming up this year, we’re in desperate need of more helpers! Whether you’re a tea-maker, a photo-taker, an arts-and-crafter or have a skill we haven’t yet dreamed of, let us know - we’d love to involve you.

Sara

The Lion, The Witch and The... Wheelbarrow

p01ghgll.jpg

Imagine being at Niagara Falls and a ‘crazy’ bloke called Blondin is demonstrating his amazing tight rope skills over the raging waters. He walks across blindfolded, he stops to cook and eat an omelette, he even makes it across on stints. After his final stunt- walking across with a wheelbarrow full of potatoes- he asks you, “Do you believe I can take a man across the tightrope in this wheelbarrow?”

How would you respond? Most people would believe he can do it. They’ve seen enough evidence to do so. After you affirmed his ability to do such a thing, Blondin invites you to “hop in”. How would you respond now? Would you trust him enough to put your life in his hands?

This scenario has been posed this week, as an icebreaker, to 240 Year 8 students at Sandringham to help them understand what hope, belief and trust really mean. I hope to get to the other side, I believe he can do it and I trust him enough (or not) to step into the wheelbarrow.

The rest of the lesson explores how CS Lewis’ book, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, mirrors the account of Jesus’ death and resurrection and how central it is to the Christian faith. The students delved into the fantasy world of Narnia, where the creatures of Narnia hoped for the end of winter and The White Witch’s reign and believed and trusted that Aslan was the one who could do it.

They also left the lesson with a (maybe new) understanding that Christians are people who intellectually believe Jesus really did die and rise from the dead, but they also step into the metaphorical wheelbarrow and trust him completely for their hope of eternal life in God’s presence to become a reality.

Geoff

Katherine Where-ington?

John Lemmon New Beginnings.jpeg

Many of our readers will be aware of the new secondary school which is opening in Harpenden this week. They have been on quite a journey, beginning their first school term in the Faculty of Law at the University of Hertfordshire. This week they are relocating to the finished gym in their new school premises (which still looks like a building site), in order to continue their first term of education.

We held our breath through the summer whilst awaiting news of whether Step could offer pastoral support and lesson input within the fresh new school structure. We met several of the students-to-be at their primary Step Up Days in June and July, and also know that some of them have attended an after-school drop-in club at St Helen’s, Wheathampstead.

Well ladies and gents, I am delighted to let you know that we have six Year 7 lessons booked for each week, beginning 7th & 21st October and also 11th November, when we will be teaching the Who is Jesus sessions. We are also exploring opportunities to support the school in a more pastoral sense, by running a weekly course or sessions. So please do support us in prayer for these activities and new relationships within the school.

We as ever are so aware and thankful for the blessing of our great relationship with all the local schools. Many of the teachers at Katherine Warington have met Step in the schools they previously worked in, so it has felt easy and comfortable making connections inside the new school.

Jez

New Explore Group, A New Opportunity?

What a joy it is to be back working alongside the team and serving Sir John Lawes School for the new term. There is a lunch club we have been part of on Wednesdays for the past few years, which has been a place for students to make connections with the local church in Harpenden through local youth workers. Students have become connected to local churches, wider social networks, new role models and some have even found faith for themselves through the time and space offered to them.

andrew-neel-z55CR_d0ayg-unsplash.jpg

Our plan is to set up a new group and come into school on an extra day! Two lunchtimes a week.

Explore Wednesdays will be starting next week with the hope of being a fun space where students can discover more about the Christian faith and delve into those difficult questions about life, the universe and God. On a Friday we will meet the students and set up a cafe space with light input focusing on the same theme as the Explore Group that week, to give the students a taste of what they might expect at the other group.

Explore Groups were launched by Helena last school year and it feels like the perfect time to offer this kind of opportunity to the students at SJL. So, with the support of the school, from next week we will be starting our group in the Drama Studio within the school, which is a fantastic location to be able to use.

Look out for an update about how the launch went on our social media next week.

Is joining a weekly lunchclub or Explore Group something you are interested in?

Please talk to us about this as we are always looking for team to join us. I’d love to have 3 more people join our lunchtimes at SJL. Could that be you? Get in touch with me.

Thanks for reading,

Charlotte

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

A Haven in Townsend

Our Step board in Townsend has been updated for a new term with a brand new theme. Haven is a six week course which helps young people who are struggling with anxiety. Each week a different tool is explored, helping the students to build a tool kit of coping techniques.

The new board immediately sparked the interest of the students, with a number of them stopping to inquire what the Haven was as I was still putting the display up.

Our new display includes some of the lovely feedback we received from the last course. Including one student who said: “It has really helped me find different ways to battle my anxiety and overcome panic attacks. The leaders are so caring and really good at listening.”

We are looking forward to starting the next Haven course at Townsend soon.

Helena :)

A different road to Emmaus

IMG_8816.jpeg

Step has been given a new space to develop its work in Nicholas Breakspear School. Despite being new, we’ve kept the old name - The Emmaus Centre - because we want young people who come in to go on journeys with Jesus.

The new space is incredible. It is central to the school and attached to the main playground. The room is perfectly sized, allowing for a cafe area, lounge area and also a small prayer and reflective area.

The Emmaus Centre has for several years been a significant part of Step’s work in Nicholas Breakspear. It is open for students to drop in most lunchtimes and is also used to run courses, mentoring and clubs.

IMG_8811.jpeg

Last Friday a crack team of movers took the contents of Emmaus up the road and set it up in its new location, and by Monday it was opened to the students as a drop-in cafe. Despite the students having to take a different road to Emmaus, they still found it. Since its opening it has also hosted Alpha and our Leadership Foundations course.

Although the room is already open to the students, it is only 70% finished and we need several items to complete it. Can you help us by providing one or some of the following?

  • A large rug to make the room look welcoming

  • Several plants (in pots), ideally low maintenance or realistic looking plastic ones

  • LEGO - the room will have a LEGO feel, so any donations would be very welcome

  • Hand hoover (as lots of food gets dropped on the sofa)

  • Fairy lights

  • LED cool lighting

  • Donations towards a JBL EON ONE PRO Sound system*

*The new Emmaus Centre is attached to the main playground and overflowing from it is a natural development. A speaker system would allow us to run events and even concerts in playgrounds and on sports fields without the need for power cables. We wouldn’t just use it for the Emmaus Centre; it would allow us to start several new initiatives on Step Days and also allow us to run some pop up activities. We have a limited time, short-term opportunity to buy this at a large discount and it would only cost £650.

IMG_8812.jpeg

Do let us know if you would like to donate one or some of the above, if you have other things you think would fit well in this space, or if you’d like to come and help run the Emmaus Cafe. It would be great to have any items or cash donations in soon so that we can finish the room.

Thank you

Chris

Donuts at St Helen's Church

Donuts 2019.jpg

Last year, Step ran nine Step Up Days, which included our first ever one at St Helen’s Primary School in Wheathampstead. The day was delivered in partnership with St Helen’s Church, who work regularly in the school. The aim of the day was to help the students with their transition up to secondary school and meet the Step team. The day was a huge success, with positive feedback from students and staff. They even booked a date for 2020 within a couple of days.

The day gave St Helen’s Church an idea to connect with the students once they’d joined Year 7. Once a week, they now host an after-school drop-in just for Year 7s from the village. The first week saw about 40 turn up and a similar number attended the following week. Some of the Step Schools Coordinators are attending these as well to connect with students they met on the Step Up Day and meet new pupils at the schools they coordinate.

The atmosphere was really positive with young people so excited to see students from the other schools. It was a brilliant example of community in action and it bodes well for the future of these young people and the village.

If you are interested in finding out more about this initiative, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with St Helen’s Church.

Thank you Trevor!!!

On Sunday, Trevor Miles, whose wife Anne volunteers with Step and daughter was positively impacted by our work whilst she was at school, took part in the Ride London 100, raising money for Step. Everyone at Step thanks Trevor and also those who sponsored him. Here is a short summary from Trevor about his experience:

Ride London Alzheimers 2019.jpg

In summary it was brilliant! Closed roads, no traffic, no rain, a great route through the City and West End before heading down to Surrey and those hills! People sitting outside their houses cheering you on and offering water by the roadside. There was also a friendly atmosphere among the participants, many of whom, like me, seemed to be doing it for the first time. I was far enough back to be away from the sharp competitive end of the event but did my fair share of 'reeling-in' those who had gone before me as the day went on. The hill training paid-off as I didn't have too much difficulty with any of the hills, in fact most people seemed to manage them. There was also the 'peleton' effect of being part of a large group that enabled you to go considerably faster than normal, which was quite exhilarating.

If there was a downside, it was the crashes - there seemed to be more of them than anyone could recall from previous years and this meant waiting in the road while an ambulance or medical team got to the affected rider and sorted them out. Of the 8 hours 11 mins 54 secs I spent on the course, about 1.5 hours was spent standing waiting for these unfortunate mishaps to be sorted out. The photo above was at the Alzheimer's 'after party', as I also raised money for them thanks to my 'out of St Albans' friends and colleagues.

With your very generous support I raised £585 for Step. Additionally I raised about another £335 for the Alzheimer's society. Just Giving say that 20% of donations are made after the event, so if any of you were planning to support, the link is here and the account is still open! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/trevor-miles3

For anyone who fancies doing it next year, the ballot for places has just opened!

THANK YOU and over and out.

20 years of volunteering to a year of being on staff

c7058b5c-916a-45e2-84b9-2107ece6a9f1.JPG

This Friday marks the completion of my first academic year working for Step. So what has changed for me in becoming staff? Firstly, I’ve recently noticed when I look in the mirror there are a few greys in my beard which I’m not sure were there 11 months ago. It has been said that grey is a sign of wisdom. Let’s see if my experience at all resembles this outward change.

I had for over 20 years really enjoyed volunteering with Step (perhaps that’s why I kept coming back for more!). However, during this year I have noticed my outlook on the schools work change significantly.

I can remember as a volunteer waiting outside classrooms for a lesson I was to help with, with an impending sense of “Am I supposed to be here?”, nervously awaiting an invitation from the teacher to come in and set up, not knowing how well the class would engage or whether the teacher would support the content of the lesson. I now feel welcome and naturally at ease in many of the schools we work in.

I have found it so much easier to remember people since being in the same spaces regularly; previously, unless I knew a student through the youthwork in Markyate, I had little chance of building purposeful relationships beyond those precious 60 minutes (or less!). Of course every moment counts but it has been really rewarding to be able to journey with students and year groups, as there has been so much more frequency in being present. Being ‘known’ is a powerful gift we are able to offer the students we come alongside (Psalm 139).

This year for me, actually getting to know the teachers has been so much fun (I was always slightly envious of Chris being able to do this so well). Finding out what makes them tick, their concerns, their stance on faith and other areas of life is something I never felt able to do much before - this was mostly down to the frequency with which I saw most of them, and often either of us was dashing straight off to the next lesson so couldn’t stop to talk, but now even time in the staff room is often so fruitful for relationship-building.

f1d6be76-099c-412c-a084-9600c120a90e.JPG

All-in-all I know my confidence has grown and I have undertaken things which I would not have dreamt of in the previous years, for example leading assemblies and running a Year 7 retreat and Step Up Days in the primary schools. I have felt trusted and responsible and when I look back I feel glad to have had these opportunities and confident to do more next year. I am very grateful for my time so far working in the schools, especially as the timing was so perfect both for me and the role at Step. The support of my colleagues and wonderful team of volunteers has also meant a great deal to me. I look forward with great anticipation to the coming year.

Jez

Step's Year in 191 Balloons!!!

IMG_6844.JPG

Yesterday, we had a fantastic time of celebration to thank God for all he has done through Step this academic year. It was also a chance to acknowledge all those who have played a part in Step this year, whether that was staff members, trustees, volunteers or supporters. It was an opportunity to share stories of young lives being changed for the better and people journeying in their faith. 

To illustrate the scope of Step’s work in 2018/19, we constructed a display using balloons - 191 to be precise. Each balloon represented 10 separate activities that we delivered in schools since September - 1910 in total, which is a new record for us. The amount of balloon blowing required certainly demonstrated the growth we have been experiencing this year. 

Balloon summary slide.jpg

As you can see from the photo, the balloons were of 5 different colours to differentiate between the various activities we ran, as shown here. To put it into context, one blue balloon is the equivalent of 300 young people hearing something about what Christians believe in a lesson. As we all gazed at the display, the sheer extent and magnitude of our work suddenly became even more astonishing and made us even more grateful for what God has done through us. These 1910 activities equate to 49 activities with 1,000 students every single week.

Now for a restful summer and getting ready for September to see just how many balloons we’ll need next year!

Geoff

Faith in Action

This week, the Year 7s at Beaumont have been getting angry.

Their anger wasn’t towards Step (which was a relief because I wouldn’t fancy our chances against that lot). Their anger was towards the many injustices that exist in our world: poverty, disease, homelessness, pollution, inequality and racism, to name just a few that were mentioned by the students.

The lesson, called Faith in Action, aims to help students understand why a Christian person might be especially motivated by their faith to take action against injustice. The students also have a think about the injustices that bother them most, as different issues affect us in different ways -  and none of us is expected to fix everything!

Year 7s may be some of the youngest people Step works with, but they already have great potential to change things for the better. To help them begin to think about the sort of imprint they’d like to leave on the world, each student drew the outline of their hand onto a piece of card and made a note of the injustices that anger them most. On the rest of the handprint, they wrote down ways that they might use their time, treasure and unique talents to make a difference to people affected by those injustices. 

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of everything that’s not right with the world. But it doesn’t matter if, like the Year 7s, we don’t yet know exactly how we can bring about change. Even the greatest change makers in history didn’t have a detailed 25-year plan when they first set out to make a difference. Greta Thunberg didn’t intend to become an internationally recognised climate activist, addressing parliaments and U.N. conferences and featuring on the cover of Time magazine as a ‘next generation leader’, when she first protested alone outside the Swedish parliament at the age of 15. She simply decided to use her time and skills to take action against an issue that she’s passionate about, one step at a time.

The important thing is for all of us to recognise that we have time, treasure and talent, and with them the power to have an incredible impact on the lives of other people.

Imagine if every young person became aware of that power. What would the future look like?

IMG_20190711_170756.jpg

“I must not be good enough if I need to be trained”

training.png

Part of my role in Step involves coordinating the training of our paid staff and our volunteers. It’s on my mind now, because July is when we put a programme in place for the following year. But that word, training, really can cause problems. I’m going to have to come up with a new one.

Training is often associated with ‘being back at work’ (said a volunteer) which leads to an almost automatic mental checklist that has ‘waste of my time’ right at the top.

This response is because too often in our paid places of work, training was delivered by one person talking from the front with no interaction - just information delivered.

Often, training has the added mental note ‘I must not be good enough if I need to be trained’ – and again, this is from the old days at work. I remember being given lots of tasks to do when I worked in the city, but I was never trained on any of them - no wonder I found the work a challenge!

Training is a vital part of Step. So, to clarify:

In Step, training is for everyone, all of the time.

It takes all forms. It might be a chat about a lesson and what to expect. It might be a formal requirement such as safeguarding.

Sometimes we invite guests in and sometimes it’s one of our own that leads the training. If we pay for a member of the team to go to external training, the expectation is that they will feed back what they learned.

At a Step training session, you can expect refreshments at the start. The subject matter will be discussed and the attendees ask questions and interact. The subject matter might be serious and will be delivered with care, and with humour where appropriate. But at the end there is time to chat to the team, or to sit with diaries open to book into what is coming up.

CIMG4316.JPG

In a year we provide approximately 55 hours of training. We know that when we are trained we feel competent and equipped. It gives us confidence. It is important in Step that everyone has this level of feeling prepared for their role.

If you would like to join our team please do contact Terrie and help me ponder how to change ‘training’ to empowerment.

The future is in the hands of those who explore

Explore Background 2 jpeg.jpg

We've had the privilege of going into Marlborough to run an Explore group on Friday lunch times for the past 9 months. It's been a great opportunity and lots of fun.

We began by going through Youth Alpha, which helped students think through the basic building blocks of the Christian faith. Then we spent some weeks studying parts of the gospel of John and seeing just who Jesus is and how people reacted to him, and thinking about our response to him. It was great to see young people interacting with God's word, some for the first time.

To finish the term we've been looking at the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. We've had multiple people come to these sessions saying Jesus can't have died and risen again, but going away with some of those ideas broken down.

Over the time it's been running we've had pretty fluctuating numbers: our lowest being about 5 (including me and Helena) but reaching nearly 20 some weeks. There's a core of around 8 who are pretty reliable and many of whom Helena and I have links with through church, so the Explore group's a good way for us to continue the discipleship going on at church and get alongside our young people with evangelism at school.

Our Explorers have said “Explore is fantastic” and “It’s very good and you learn a lot. I also love the food.” 

There's a good mix of young people, with lots of churches represented and lots of young people who don't go to church at all. This means we usually get good questions and good conversation, although it also means tangents are common!

Going in to Explore has been great this year and I'm sad for the end of term to come but it's been tricky sometimes too. We'd love prayer to get to know the young people better; we don't really get long with them in one short lunch time! We'd also appreciate prayer that they'd engage more each week and for better discipline management, as there are usually one or two that distract the rest. Mostly, please pray that hearts and eternities would be changed.

If you are interested in Explore groups please email Helena via: explore@stepschoolswork.org.uk

Polly Boyles - Children’s and Youth Worker, Holy Trinity Frogmore

GideonsUK and Step

IMG_6722.jpg
 

Mary writes: “Locally we have 20 members of whom about 12 are most active in one role or another. The branch also has about 65 Friends of Gideons who share a common interest in this work of the Lord and support us with their prayers and gifts.

A few members focus on the schools’ work trying to visit the 25 schools in our area each year. Some, however, are becoming closed to us. Once a month we go to all school gates praying that God’s will may be done among both the students and staff for His glory. 

A new and exciting initiative is to partner with like-minded Christian groups. Step has developed a unique opportunity to enter schools and we have been grateful to pass out Youth Testaments (YTs) as the youngsters go into their study sessions. Since volunteering in Step we have passed out 344 YTs to young people who might not have had the chance to receive them. I enjoy volunteering with Step because it’s a laugh and a half. The other key area for us in Mid Herts is to support Young Life with YTs as they work with Christian Unions, a weekly Youth Club and occasional camps.”

Both Step and GideonsUK have thoroughly enjoyed working together to see God’s word being accessed by more young people. We look forward to all that the next academic year will bring.

Do contact us if you would like to find out more about the work of Step or GideonsUK.

Please do also join us on Wednesday 17th July at 7.30 to celebrate the year with a light buffet, worship and stories from the year at Forest Town Church, Lyon Way, AL4 0LB. Please invite others to come, whether that's family, friends, homegroups or anyone else who might be interested in hearing more about the work of Step.

GideonsUK are Christians who share a common passion for the lost by bringing God’s own word to them.

Locally their focus is from the M1 to the A10, taking in the towns of Harpenden, St Albans, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar, Hertford, Hoddesdon and Broxbourne. Mary is a member of GideonsUK and has recently started volunteering at Step too. She is a keen competitor and excellent at quickly forming relationships with young people. This year she has been involved in well over 30 activities in schools.

Stepping Up to Secondary

Journeys are part of life. Every day we take countless journeys, big and small, from one point to another. We might also find ourselves on mental, emotional and spiritual journeys as life takes us through new experiences.

Thousands of Year 6 pupils are currently preparing for the next stage of their life’s journey as they think about their upcoming move to secondary school. The transition from Year 6 to Year 7 can be daunting, so we run Step Up Days to support pupils as they take on this new challenge. 

This year we’re running Step Up Days in nine different primary schools and we had the pleasure of delivering the first one at Colney Heath School.

Exploring our emotions on the Journeys Carousel

Exploring our emotions on the Journeys Carousel

During an action-packed day we got to know each other through team games, used the story of Dory from ‘Finding Nemo’ to explore our identities, and talked about the friendship qualities that matter to us most.

Through the Journeys Carousel, the pupils had a chance to work through some of their emotions around moving on; they shared the things that they’ll be sad to leave behind, and looked forward to the exciting things to come (not least the Step activities that many of them will have in their new schools!). 

They also thought about how the Israelites must have felt excited yet anxious when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. There were even times on that journey when the Israelites were so unsure about what lay ahead that they wanted to return to Egypt.

But we were able to reassure Year 6 that these feelings are perfectly normal on any journey and that God promises us, just as he promised Joshua, that we do not need to be afraid or discouraged because he will be with us wherever we go.

The wonderful Colney Heath pupils gave us a fantastic start to the Step Up Day season. We were especially encouraged by the school’s comments about the day:

The children clearly got a lot out of it and it was really useful. I appreciate the time everyone gave to make it a success and remain so grateful that your presence will be there for them in their new schools.

We’ve since run Step Up Days in four other primary schools and can’t wait to meet the Year 6 pupils in a further four over the next couple of weeks.

If helping children navigate their journey from primary to secondary school is something you’d like to be involved with, do get in touch with Terrie (terrie@stepschoolswork.org.uk) or take a look at our page on volunteering with Step.

Sara

1122381_1.jpg

Step Days: Soul Seeping

I’ve been involved in various Step days over the last year: Retreats at Nicholas Breakspear school, Christianity Days at Verulam, and Step-Up days at various primary schools.

They are all full days and differ in approach and style. From a student’s perspective, the Christianity days are similar to a standard school day, in so far as they have a number of lessons on various topics, whereas the retreat days are very different: often they are off timetable, can dress down and are not located at school. The style of learning is also different and tends to have a mix of ‘thinking’, ‘being’ and ‘doing’. This works well, because some students respond better to some styles of learning than others; for instance, children who find it a challenge to sit still and think, very often rise to the challenge of making something in pottery.

I think one of the reasons why retreats work so well is that they break from their normal routine, and with fewer teachers around, things are slightly more relaxed. But, more than that, the day is a chance to step back and get a different perspective on life; too often we are so focused on the next task, the next lesson, the next exam, that we forget to look up and check that we are travelling in the right direction, or maybe even to stop and think, “Which direction should I be going in?”

Having a whole day to do this helps, as those thoughts have a chance to seep into the soul; and as Step workers/volunteers, it also gives us a chance to build up a rapport with some students, which can lead on to meaningful conversations, which they wouldn’t ordinarily have.

There’s great benefit in taking time out and reflecting on life; allowing God to whisper in to our soul; it’s a blessing for students, for teachers and us.

Graeme

Retreats allow students to take a step back from normal day to day life at school and reflect on important themes in a supportive and fun environment. Almost without exception the students speak highly of their experience - Barry O’Sullivan (Chaplain and RE teacher)

Graeme is a very committed volunteer, engaging in 122 activities in schools so far this academic year (September to May). If you would like to be involved in tip Days or other aspects of Step’s work, please contact Terrie.