How Young Leaders Award can connect schools and churches

June 8, 2023
How Young Leaders Award can connect schools and churches

The Young Leaders Award offers lots of scope for schools and churches to work together. It’s a great opportunity for the church and its members to connect in a different way with children within their local school.

The Church of England’s Growing Faith Foundation promotes a partnership between the three communities of Church, School and Household to enable the discovery, exploration and growth of faith for all in those communities.  

The Young Leaders Award helps pupils to discover from a Christian perspective who they are as a leader, to identify what qualities and skills they have and to also learn about Christian values and the importance of service and community.

Ideas for how churches can get involved:

  • Supporting school staff to deliver the YLA session content.
  • Delivering class or whole school assemblies on the themes being covered in the sessions, perhaps linking with key Bible stories or examples of leaders in the Bible.
  • Providing opportunities or action project ideas for pupils to serve the church community and its local area- perhaps there are already groups or activities that run in church that pupils could support or particular services or celebrations that they could play their part in preparing and leading.
  • Joining with pupils to carry out action projects. Pupils are encouraged to generate their own ideas for action projects, but church communities could work alongside them to address a problem they have identified.  
  • Engaging the church community. There is a great opportunity to let the whole church know what is happening in their local school and to support the pupils’ efforts through prayer and resources. Pupils could provide church congregations with mini video updates or a newsletter sharing what they have been learning.

Some wonderful examples of schools and churches working together through the YLA include:

KS1 pupils at Esh C of E Primary School who helped to organise a Messy Church service for the whole school inviting their families. They assisted in planning activities and sorting resources.  

“This was one of the first opportunities for the whole school community to come together since COVID. Parents commented on how lovely it was to be back in school and able to join in with creative activities and a church service.” YLA Teacher

Marwood Infant School KS1 young leaders made palm crosses for their local church, which they shared at a special service to spread a message of hope for the future. They also learnt about the Eco church initiative and chose to develop a wildlife area for their community. The children planted bee bombs to encourage flowers to grow and bees and butterflies to visit the wildlife area.

KS2 pupils at Barton St Peter’s CofE primary school held a community morning for a group attending their local church on a Wednesday morning. The young leaders performed some of their talents including cello, magic and singing, before spending time with the group by playing games.  

“I am proud of my bravery and talking to new people. I really enjoyed making them happy”. KS2 Young Leader
“I liked it because I liked helping people and putting smiles on their faces.” KS2 Young Leader

St Anne's C of E, Sale KS2 pupils who got involved with a new after-school cafe run by their local vicar. They baked cakes and treats to sell at the café and helped with serving and chatting with the people there, including other children, parents and members of the church community.  

“The pupils' actions enabled them to have a closer connection to our school and church community.” YLA Teacher

This video from the Fioretti Trust schools in Birmingham shows another example of how the schools worked in partnership with their local churches on the YLA.

There are great potential benefits of connecting schools with the local church including:

  • Creates new opportunities for meaningful and connected communities.
  • Provides practical support & service to the schools, a chance to partner with teaching staff and work alongside the children, bringing fresh energy and creativity to existing projects either in church, school or the local community.
  • Widens pupils’ experience, perhaps offering experiences outside of their ‘normal’ experience, meeting people they wouldn’t normally work alongside.  
  • Creates Community Cohesion and enables barriers to be broken down, giving opportunities for churches to engage meaningfully with pupils.  

We hope to see many more schools and churches connected through the opportunities the Young Leaders Award offers to work together and explore faith and community.  

Are you looking for ways to support your community to see closer links between church and school?
Growing Faith is the movement that exists to put children, young people and families instinctively at the heart of all the mission and ministry of the Church by changing the culture of the Church of England.

Find out more about their work and how they could support you here:

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KS1 & KS2