The Venerable Luke Irvine-Capel, Archdeacon of Chichester and Chair of the Diocesan Board of Education, today paid tribute to the remarkable "creativity, resilience and commitment" shown by schools across the region. In a statement issued today to the 155 church schools serving 38,000 children across Sussex the Archdeacon said :
"Throughout the pandemic Church of England schools, along with many other schools across the Diocese, have continued to educate and nurture the children and young people entrusted to their care. Our 155 schools serving 38,000 children, their families and wider communities, have shown remarkable creativity, resilience and commitment, with our staff and governing bodies ensuring that key worker and vulnerable children have had direct access to our schools and staff."
He added: "Those at home have also been able to engage with their ongoing learning and development. Thank you to all who have led and staffed our schools in these extraordinary times."
Archdeacon Luke appreciated that many children were excited about going back to school: "With all children returning to their classrooms and playgrounds tomorrow [March 8th] we hold them and school staff in our prayers. Friendships can now be renewed, the joy of companionship rediscovered, and the long-awaited recovery of face-to-face teaching and learning be restored, " he said.
Easter, of course, is just around the corner thus providing schools will an opportunity to talk about new life and new hope which are at the heart of the Christian faith: "Amidst all the changes, cares, pain and trauma of the last year, and with the uncertainty that the future holds, we trust in God who has shared in the vulnerability of our humanity that we may share in the glory of His life as we joyfully seek to know, love and follow Jesus.
This Prayer for School Leaders is provided as Schools Fully Reopen Tomorrow
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You know what it takes to live well together,
To form and reform community,
Welcoming, healing, rebuilding and renewing,
Bound together in perfect love.
So we look to you now.
For our students returning to school
After a long time at home -
May they know they are loved, valued and included,
Welcome just as they are, however they feel.
For the students continuing on in our school
After their different experience of learning this term -
May they feel safe and important as their classes fill up,
Adjusting to change and busyness in their space once again.
For staff moving back into their learning environments
After teaching and supporting all over the place -
May they believe in their power to transform and inspire,
Knowing their expertise makes a difference to all.
And for ourselves, managing yet more full-scale change,
After a year of challenge upon challenge upon challenge,
May we know we're not alone, but surrounded by love,
Connected to so many who walk this path, too.
Draw us together with a hope that is real,
Rebuild our school upon your cornerstone,
Mend any disconnections with your infinite love,
And renew our community to shine once again.
For our children,
For our staff,
For our families,
For our governors,
For our communities
And also for ourselves -
We look to you now,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.