Prayer and play on Earl's visit to church school
HRH The Earl of Wessex’s day with the Diocese of Norfolk continued with a visit to Little Plumstead Church of England VA Primary School in East Norfolk.
There was an opportunity for His Royal Highness to hear about the UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA), based on principles of equality, dignity, respect, non-discrimination and participation from headteacher Sonia Innes and Diocese of Norwich’s Director of Education, Andy Mash.
The Royal Party walked through the school and classrooms where the Earl met pupils undertaking various activities and their teachers.
The Earl also met Diocesan Children, Youth & Families Development Manager, Mark Heybourne, who invited His Royal Highness to see a grassed area beyond the playground and explain the plans for this area to become an outdoor Prayer Space.
Mark said: “Today it was fantastic to walk with the Earl of Wessex to a beautiful tree-lined area that has been set apart as a quiet garden that pupils can choose to visit for stillness, reflection and prayer. Children, just like adults, enjoy times when they can slow down, become quiet and pay attention to what they are feeling inside. I was able to discuss with the Earl of Wessex the plans the pupils have drawn up for this beautiful outdoor prayer space, which will be an additional space to the popular indoor prayer space already available in the school.
“I explained to the Earl of Wessex how the Diocese of Norwich has been working with schools to set up prayer spaces, with the close involvement of the local church. They enable children to explore faith and spirituality in a safe, creative and interactive way. The spaces contain a number of gentle, restful and playful activities can be adapted to the needs of the school bringing an experiential dimension RE and to the pastoral aspects of school life.
“Over 50 temporary prayer spaces have run in Norfolk schools and such is their popularity with pupils (and with OFSTED inspectors) that many schools are seeking to create regular or permanent spaces. One of the prayer activities is asking pupils to display their answer to the question – ‘If you could ask God one question what would it be?’ The Earl of Wessex was brilliant in that he not only answered the question himself, but he let me tell the children his answer.”
Along with Bishop Graham, the Earl also took part in a special assembly where each class placed something in a time capsule along with the Earl and Bishop Graham. The Earl was also given a gift of a poetry book, after which the School Prayer was read by the Rev Darleen Platten.
While at the school, the Earl was able to discuss education within the Diocese and the work done serving and supporting over 110 schools and academies with Director of Education, Andy Mash.
Andy said: “We were delighted to welcome the Earl of Wessex to our school at Little Plumstead. This school is up there amongst the best of many shining examples of over 130 church schools in Norfolk, which make up 30% of Norfolk’s schools and welcome over 15,000 pupils through their doors each day.
“Church schools are a significant part of the Norfolk family of schools. In the Diocese of Norwich we are proud of our church schools and of our role as custodians of their heritage, stretching back over 200 years; and of the distinctive contribution which church schools continue to make within the overall pattern and provision of schooling in this country nowadays and the diversity of choice which exists for parents and children.
“This school, like all other Church of England schools, is founded upon the notion and principle of service to their local communities, and therefore hold an inclusive welcome for those from all faiths or none. Little Plumstead Primary is no different to that. As with much in education, these are watershed times for church schools in the changing educational landscape, with the advent of academies, tougher inspection expectations and the rightful quest for academic standards of excellence and high-quality opportunities for development of the whole child in readiness for the next stages in their schooling and young life.”
School headteacher, Sonia Innes, said: “We were honoured to be nominated by the Lord Bishop of Norwich to receive a visit from His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex. The children and staff were really looking forward to meeting him and sharing the things they love about their school.”
Pictured above, children meet the Earl of Wessex and at an assembly at Little Plumstead School.
Pictures courtesy of www.dioceseofnorwich.org