First Blog of 2019

A Christmas gift- candlesticks to go with the chaplain's cross

The artist is an old friend who is a regular church goer in so much as he attends Midnight Mass on Christmas ev and helps wit the practical side of the earlier children’s service so I asked Nick what he thought about when he made the cross and this was his reply:

“Ah… Because the plaiting process is so slow and deliberate it demands a lot of thought and ‘faffing’ about, selective masking and sacrificial components etc that will never be seen on the finished piece. There’s an evolution of sorts as time progresses. I wanted it to be organic and living as the church is. I also wanted to hint at abandoned ruins because we have left so many old ideas behind as the world has changed. It had to be rooted but also hint at movement, which is why the bit near the base is less solid and tree-like, but I also wanted the roots to be substantial as ours are. Beyond that there was a man spreading his arms out in welcome, that was not planned, that was given.”

School Governance


If as a result of your look back on the old year think you might benefit from a new challenge for 2019 that will dove-tail neatly with Lay Ministry please think about volunteering as a governor. Knowing how important children are to the future of the church and how important the church is to the future of our children it is an excellent opportunity to get one’s feet wet. 

Recently in addition to my own school, I have been asked to fill in as chair of Governors in a school where governors are thin on the ground. Those they have are mostly parents in the school who are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and committed but there are only five of them and experience shows that the local board needs to be twice that number in order to function efficiently.

Governors are important in schools whether they are maintained Local Authority Schools or Academies and having the right governors with a heart for the folks they are working with is vital. Governors who are box ticking bureaucrats fixated on policies rather than people add to the work of the school rather than support it; the best governors ask tricky questions but in the right way at the right time and always with the aim of building up those who work there.


 If you have never been a governor think of the role as: 


·         listening to staff (often asking prepared questions)

o   to help you understand the school and its needs

o   to help them rehearse the answers they will have to give to inspectors of one sort or another

o   so they know they have someone independent they can speak to

·         Listening to children (Usually with set situation such as a pupil conference where a selection of students will meet a couple of governors, or ad hoc conversations while monitoring the use of the library or the way the playground is being used)

o   Finding out if the children have the same view of the school as the staff

o   Finding out of they feel safe, looked after and how the school does this

o   Finding out what things help or hinder their learning most.

·         Listening to parents/carers (sometimes through questionnaires but invited focus groups are a growing trend)

o   Finding out what concerns them most

o   What they like about the school

o   What could be done for them to make the job of being a parent easier in terms of homework etc.

·         Listening to the community


Lots of listening with a little bit of report writing and an occasional two hour meeting  so really an ideal role for those in ministry!


There are usually a couple of evening meetings a term and it is hoped you would be able to get into school for a few mornings a term- perhaps once a month for a fact finding visit on areas from health and safety to mathematics.


You don’t have to judge teaching- that is not the role; it is about support and being a ‘critical friend’ – if you want to know more about being a governor you can chat to me but the diocesan education department has a fabulous governance team who work very hard to train and inform.


Bex Couch, Governance Development Officer on or 01872 274351.


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