The school is a Church of England Primary Academy, and has been part of the local community since 1889.
Taking place once a month after school in the main hall, the Faith and Fun family services are similar in some ways to Messy Church. Having first started in 2019, Faith and Fun was affected by Covid and lockdowns, but is back up and running again. The events also include children and parents from other faiths, meaning a variety of traditions are being celebrated.
Faith and Fun is part of the ‘Church in Schools’ initiative, a strategy to see 25 new school-based congregations established by 2025. This plan helps to provide those attending an opportunity to be a part of a worshipping community without the need to go to a main church building.
Heather Waller is a Church Army trainee who leads the sessions:
“It was Clynt French (Church in Schools Coordinator) approaching us in 2019 about Churches in School and the support they offer that gave me the confidence to go for it with the deep-seated passion I have for expressions of church that embrace diversity. It was a natural progression from other activities that I was doing with St Mary’s and other Christians in the school as a volunteer.
“The kids get so excited about Faith and Fun; we have lots of opportunities to advertise it in assemblies and on flyers, and whenever it’s mentioned the children always ask when the next session is.
“It’s a privilege to put on these events, and each time is different. We keep it simple but engaging, and just have one hour. We put on slapstick games; live music; storytellers; we’ve had it outdoors with circus skills and we’re hopefully having a Christian magician at the next one for a ‘tricks & treats’ light party. If not, it’ll be a pumpkin light party! We experimented with Church Army drums in our last session, because I thought the kids would love it. We deliberately tap into what is meaningful in our context. Anything that can get people engaged is great, and we always have halal snacks.”
On Wednesday 5th October the Bishop of Doncaster, the Rt Reverend Sophie Jelley, visited the school for a tour. She also took part in Faith and Fun and was able to see first-hand the hard work that takes place to put on the sessions.
She helped some of the children put together crafts and artwork, and says:
“Lots of families come here and learn about Jesus. The kids did collective worship earlier in the day with me, we sang together and some of the children enjoyed dressing up as bishops! I visited every classroom and there’s a great joy in the school, which I think filters into Faith and Fun.
“One of the clear things I’ve learned about this school is that they really value community, and that’s one of the things that people missed so much during Covid. It’s great to see the church-school partnership really flourishing here; it’s one of the opportunities and blessings that we can give to families in this area, and I think they really make the most of it”.
The services are a partnership between the school and St. Mary’s Church Bramall Lane, and the team that run and organise Faith and Fun are made of volunteers from St. Mary’s church and parents from the school who go to different churches or none.
Headteacher Cath Thomas said:
“For our school it’s a really nice way of sharing the Christian faith with a very diverse group of people. There are people at the Faith and Fun sessions that are of other faiths.
It’s really important for us as a community school to reach out to different members of the community and be able to offer this. The sessions are always busy!”
You can find out more about Church in Schools.