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Christian Foundation

The Good Samaritan Luke 10 25:37

A story of Courage, Compassion, Curiosity and Commitment 

 

The growing partnership between Benenden and Goudhurst & Kilndown Primary Schools has led to the development of a new shared vision underpinned by 4 values.

Our vision is to be learning communities that enable people to live life in all its fullness John 10:10 in a changing world. The phrase ‘life in all its fullness’ was coined by Jesus to describe his mission - to bring wholeness of life in a world that is full of challenges and joys, opportunities and setbacks. Wholeness of life means understanding that humans are complex beings, who have bodies and souls as well as minds and who therefore need opportunities to grow spiritually as well as intellectually, physically as well as mentally. It means understanding that we are most whole when we grow with others, with opportunities to give as well as receive, to serve as well as to be served.

To bring this vision to life, we have discerned four values which will guide the way that we do things in our two schools. These are Courage, Compassion, Curiosity and Commitment.

In the gospel of Luke 10 25:37 Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan - one of the most famous stories ever told. It can help us connect the four values with the life and teaching of Jesus who, for Christians, is the definition of ‘life in all its fullness’, and who offers that same fullness of life to every person today.

The story is Jesus’ response to two questions; ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ and ‘Who is my neighbour?’ In the first question, ‘eternal life’ doesn’t mean ‘how do I get to heaven?’ but, how can I live in God’s never-ending (eternal) presence, here in the middle of life? Or, in other words, ‘how can I live in God, in the world?’ It’s a question about how we can know God’s wholeness of life in the middle of this beautiful, messy world. Jesus doesn’t answer by telling his questioner to tick everything off his bucket list, to get a better job or to pass his exams; he answers - ‘love God and love your neighbour’. ‘But’, his questioner replies, ‘who is my neighbour?’ And in response, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.

The story starts with a man lying, beaten up, in a ditch. A priest passes by, crossing to the other side to avoid him. A religious lawyer does the same. Then a Samaritan appears. Samaritans were the hated opponents of the Jewish people. Jesus’ listeners would have expected him to have walked on by too - but he doesn’t. He is more curious than the priest and the lawyer. He is willing to step outside the normal boundaries and expectations of his world, to cross the street to find out what he could do and how he could help.

And what compels this curiosity, Jesus says, is his compassion. That word literally means ‘to suffer with’. He sees the man in ditch and knows that their wellbeing is connected and that he has a responsibility to stand with him in his suffering. And so, setting aside his plans for the day, he is willing to let his ordinary life be disrupted, by finding out how he can help.

And that takes courage. The man in the ditch was his traditional enemy, and he had no idea what he would find when he got there. But still, he crossed over, figured what needed to be done, bound up the man’s wounds and got him the help he needed.

And having had compassion and acted courageously, he then made a commitment and, placing the man on his donkey, took him to an Inn where he could be cared for. The next day, having got the wounded man sorted, he remained committed to his care, offering to pay the Innkeeper whatever was needed to return the wonder man to health.

How do we live ‘in God, in the world?’ By being curious enough to question the assumptions of the world around us; by being compassionate to those around us, including those we wouldn’t ordinarily be drawn to; be being courageous in stepping out, ready to do unexpected things and to take risks and by being committed to the things that matter, knowing that there may not be easy answers or simple fixes, but that by faithful persistence, we can see change happen.

What does this story mean for us in our schools? 

These kinds of values cannot simply be taught in a few lessons. Instead, this story encourages us to build a whole culture which encourages and builds the character of children and adults so that they can grow in curiosity, compassion, courage and commitment, confident that in doing so they will discover more of the fulness of life that Jesus offers.

And that means being consistently reflective and thoughtful about the whole school culture, including the quality of teaching, the curriculum content, the opportunities for service, the way we relate, the physical environment, the way we unpack the living wisdom of Jesus for todays world, the things we choose to reward and the way we use our time- - so that our values permeate everything we do.

 Jesus said ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’

 

Our Christian values, Curiosity,  Compassion, Courage and Commitment underpin our school vision and strongly inform our aim to develop every child as an individual, socially, spiritually, morally, physically and academically by providing a happy, secure and stimulating environment. These values are not simply a matter for RE lessons, but are the foundation for everything that we do together.  We value our status as a Church of England (Controlled) School and the Christian values of our school underpin the daily life in the school and are interwoven into our curriculum.  Indeed all stakeholders are made aware of these values through Collective Worship, RE teaching, induction, newsletters and the school website. Each term we focus on one value. 

Our links with the two Churches in our community, St Mary's Goudhurst and Christ Church Kilndown are strong and the Church Family works closely with the school and supports our staff both professionally and spiritually. 

Teaching and Learning RE

We believe every child should thrive and flourish.  Religion and culture are so inter-connected, it is important to be religiously literate.  Religious literacy includes knowledge of religious beliefs and practice, as well as an appreciation of faith and belief within society. Our enquiry-based learning provided by the RE curriculum offers children rich and varied knowledge and understanding opportunities to learn about Christianity as well as other religions and world views, using special texts, beliefs, rituals and practices. Children get the opportunity to develop their skills of analysis, interpretation, evaluation and reflection during RE lessons, in a safe space they can each explore their own way. We use Understanding Christianity http://www.understandingchristianity.org.uk/ to develop religious conversation throughout the school in the spiral curriculum format where themes are revisited and investigated more deeply in different years. World Faith teaching and learning planning is provided by Canterbury Diocese (as part of the Kent Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education), as well as detailed and useful assessment resources.  Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage have weekly RE lessons of 50 minutes rising to 70 minutes in Key Stage 2, which 5% of the teaching time.  [The time for Collective Worship is separate and in addition to this.]

Click on the link to read our Long Term RE Plan

Collective Worship

Daily acts of Collective (Christian) Worship begin at 9am and last approximately 25 minutes.  They usually take place in the hall although we also worship outside at special times.  We also visit St Marys Church and Christchurch Kilndown for key Christian festivals throughout the year. There are a variety of leaders who plan and lead each Collective Worship including members of St Marys Church.

Mrs Omer (RE Subject Leader) – Monday

Singing practice – Tuesday

St Marys Church - Wednesday

Leadership Team – Thursday

Celebration Worship - Friday. 

We include children in the planning and leading of acts of Worship and there are opportunities during every Collective Worship for children to be invited to participate, reflect, sing and pray.  Collective Worship contribute to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our children and staff. Visitors are frequent and welcomed, and pre-visits encouraged for those leading Collective Worship. Collective Worship’s are monitored regularly and a book celebrating some Collective Worships can be found in the school entrance hall.

                                                                             

 

At the end of the daily Act of Worship we say our school prayer:

Father God,

This is our school.

Let love flow.

Let the rooms be filled

with joy and happiness,

Let the outside be filled with fun and friendship.

Bless us all as we learn

with you Lord in all that we do.

Amen

Click here to read our Collective Worship policy. Click here to read our RE policy.

Christian Festivals and Special Services

As a whole school we celebrate the Christian festivals of Christmas, Easter and Harvest at St Mary’s Church and parents are warmly invited to join us. The Christmas and Easter services are held on the last day of term and bring the whole school community together.  The children plan and lead these services with support from staff and Rev Hugh. The music includes a variety of traditional hymns and more modern Christian songs.  The school choir led by Ms Lane, is invited to sing in church on a regular basis. Whilst at other times of the year our children are invited to sing and take part in the Remembrance Day service, representing the school alongside other organisations and societies in our community, and on Ash Wednesday children from the upper school years follow the Millennium Walk back to school following a service at Christ Church Kilndown. This year Reverend Hugh even led an Ash Wednesday Service during a Forest School session!

 

Our Church Community

St Mary’s church has lots going on for children, young people and families. There are usually 40-45 children in the 5 Sunday Club groups that run during the church service each Sunday, and there are a wide range of other activities at other times of the week.  School links with St Mary’s, Goudhurst and Christ Church Kilndown are strong and we regularly invite the Church Wardens and others with a role in the church to join us for Collective Worship, school lunches, Nativity plays and school events and performances throughout the year.  The church also runs a Parenting course each year, offering an informal and gentle way for parents to reflect on what it means to be a parent and to grow in confidence in this crucial role.

Our Church Inspection Report

As a Church of England School we are inspected both by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) and the National Society for Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS). In the 2013 SIAS Inspection the school was judged to be “Outstanding” and I am delighted to report that following our recent SIAMS Inspection January 2018, the school was judged to be "Outstanding" again. Comments from the inspection include:

"The commitment and vision of the headteacher, is confidently supported by her staff and governors. This results in highly effective leadership and management of Goudhurst and Kilndown as a distinctive and inclusive church school."

"The learning environment, both inside and outside the school building, makes a significant contribution to the spiritual development of pupils."

"The behaviour of all learners is exceptional. All relationships are underpinned by a mutual respect for each individual, reflecting the Christian character and values of the school."

"Pupils also have an opportunity to develop independence, team work and self-confidence through the forest school. The associated outdoor activities enable them to set aspirational goals for themselves with impact on their subsequent achievement in class."

We are extremely proud of this judgement and are working to build further on the strong links between the Church and school.  You can read the full report by following clicking on the icon below.

 

You can find out more about St Mary’s and Christ Church on the church website