In 2011, Scripture Union Scotland began discussions with CARE for Scotland, the Baptist Union of Scotland, and the Church of Scotland's Church & Society Council about an idea for a project to inspire Christian engagement in local schools. The Serve Your Local School (SYLS) project emerged from this, with a vision for Scotland to:
inspire and equip churches to engage more with their local schools
SYLS is supported by a steering group made up of representatives from each of the four partner organisations plus teachers.
As part of the project, we launched a brand new online resource centre, hosting inspiring case studies, resource links, how-to guides and a searchable list of over sixty activity ideas, each fully explained, which churches can consider as they develop a links with their local school.
The key aims of the project are:
Many churches are unaware of the opportunities available in schools, or of the legislation which encourages schools to invite faith-based workers to participate in the life of the school.
A key element of helping churches see what can be possible involves sharing good practice and stories of successful initiatives.
Church members need to be informed about the options and resources available to them, given help to know how best to engage with schools, and provided with back-up support and contacts.
"Our education system should give pupils the right to ask those questions of religion and morality"
Mike Russell, MSP and Cabinet secretary for Education & Life Long learning
The values of the SYLS project are:
- Working for churches:
The primary focus of this project is the local church: to help Christians become aware of opportunities that exist for working in and with schools; and to help them feel enabled and have the appropriate resources, in order to be able to move forward.
- Working in partnership:
SU Scotland is committed to this project and sees that partnership with similar minded organisations to be crucial to achieve both breadth and depth in delivery.
- Working with integrity:
The reason we wish to equip churches to work with schools is that we believe, as part of the body of Christ, we are called to serve in our local communities. We also believe that school pupils have a right to ask questions about Christianity; to be offered the opportunity to explore the Bible; and to make up their own minds about the significance of Jesus.
- Working with excellence:
As we work together we do so in a manner which is within the Scottish Government guidelines for schools engagement (e.g. Guidelines for Religious Observance), seeking at all times to serve with excellence and then evaluating our service in order to improve what we offer.