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Our Communities are our Schools

Over 30 years ago Steve Younger was appointed School Chaplain at Auchinraith Primary, and since then relationships have been built and opportunities given, so that he is now greeted as a friend of the school.

Three decades is a long time to stay engaged and current with any school these days, especially with the rate that staff teams alter. So what are the things that have allowed Steve to stay in this position as an adopted member of the staff team?

A Willingness to Serve

An approach to serve in whatever capacity is needed is key. In Steve’s reflections he recognised this willingness as a significant factor in building relationships and earning his place to continue to lead assemblies. It is clear that the relationships that have been built here are full of respect on both sides and have meant that the school have made space for Steve and his suggestions.

Building Relationships with the Children

One of the most beneficial experiences with an eye to building relationships with the children he was working with was serving at the school residentials every year. As with any time away with young people, this time allowed him to develop trusted relationships with young people in a variety of settings, and further building that relationship with the school as a whole and not just the staff who worked there.

Understanding the Curriculum of Excellence

With the most recent changes in curriculum in the Scottish education system, Steve started to adapt his assemblies to meet the needs that the Curriculum for Excellence required. This involved touching on things like wellbeing when leading assemblies, therefore making the content and purpose of the assemblies in-line with their targets. This also allowed the staff to build up trusted relationship with him as they worked with a good understanding of one another’s needs.

Understanding the Community

As Steve says, “If you are to be involved in the community, you need to be involved in the school”, and it is so clear that in current culture with the rise in technology and the always accessible internet, there are many distractions away from people and what is happening right in front of us. However, one thing that does not change is the need for schools. Understanding your community, and further being involved in that community requires you to be involved in the local schools as it is in these environments, where there is already a structure of community, that we can enter into and show love in powerful ways.

For further insights from Steve and his experiences as a school chaplain, his book Time for Reflection: A Guide to School Chaplaincy is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

by Kathryn Thomson