Whilst doing my Godly Play core training in 2016. I could see how perfect Godly Play would be for our local Church of England Primary School. Our Curate at the time, who did this training with me, already had a great relationship with the school and was now a strong advocate for Godly Play, as was the Diocese who had been into the school and delivered some Godly Play sessions on previous occasions. I had a child at the school in Year R and was already helping to deliver a Messy Church after-school club once a month.
Existing relationships and the support of others was instrumental in the success of getting Godly Play into school so successfully.
The local church provided financial support in resourcing the stories and paying for my training. I delivered five Godly Play sessions during Lent to adults in the church who were interested in finding out about Godly Play. This helped to get their support, with one parishioner in her 80’s saying, ‘I wish we’d had this when I was a child, it would have made learning so much more enjoyable. These adults could then see the value of Godly Play and have become strong supporters, a couple became doorpersons, others donated craft materials and help resource my stories as well as praying for this ministry.
Before launching Godly Play, we had a meeting with the Head and Assistant Head to discuss what we were aiming to deliver, and the logistics. I attended a staff meeting to explain what Godly Play was and how it would work practically, and I put together a one-page brief, which I also re-issued each term as a reminder to class teachers. I see each class on a rota, around three times during the school year. Sessions are delivered fortnightly to a class split into two groups of 15. Children come across the road into church with their Teacher or TA. I have 2 or 3 doorpersons from the Church who help with set-up, welcome the children and assist during the response time. The church building is very old and traditional so the children can spread out safely during response time, with the availability of extra helpers. And many hands make light work when it comes to clearing away after a session! As can be seen in the picture, we had the choir frontals removed to make enough room for the circle.
After a couple of terms’ work, I could see that some children really engaged with Godly Play and wanted more. I offered to set up an after-school Godly Play club. This is run in a Year 1 classroom. It already has a large rug with spots on it, which makes it easier for children to find a place in the circle that’s right for them. The benefit of an early years classroom is that it has a good selection of resource materials and a sand tray, which is great if children want to play in the desert during response time. I take in the story, my focal shelf materials, the feast, then a case of craft supplies. My doorperson as a TA at the school, who takes the register at the door before welcoming children in the usual Godly Play way. She was funded by the school to do core GP training.
‘Godly Play, led by Jo Apps, is a highly valued aspect of the spiritual life of our School. Pupils and staff talk about how they look forward to their regular sessions, which support spiritual development and inquiry. The joy and wonder that Godly Play brings is evident in pupils’ faces and the feedback they give following the time they spend reflecting on Bible stories they have experienced. A staff member was so moved and affected by Godly Play that she requested training in order to deliver it herself – such as the impact on her own Christian journey. She has then continued to support and lead Godly Play sessions contributing to a culture of wonder and growth.
Our last SIAMs inspection stated that “… effective partnerships contribute to the strength of this church school…” and that, “the school environment supports the spiritual development of pupils extremely well.’” The partnership between church and school has been and continues to be strengthened by the impact of Godly Play.’
— Last SIAMs inspection