So your church is interested in exploring ways to connect with your local school but not quite sure where to start? The following information will guide you on your way…

Once you have discussed the possibility of connecting with a school or schools, it's important to discern what the next step is through prayer and noticing what God might be calling you to join in with. It's also important to be realistic about how much you can do - if there are only a few of you, then this will limit what you can physically do, but not what God can do through you. If the whole church community is on board, then there might be more possibilities.

Discernment includes who and where and it might not always be the first school that comes to mind. Recent reflections on justice through Walking with Micah recognise that God has a 'bias to the poor and marginalised'. Methodism was founded in its work for social justice going particulaly to those places where God's love seemed absent because of neglect by society. Where might the schools be that need the most support?


Eunice Attwood in her role as Church at the Margins officer offers the following reflections to help churches in their discernment:

UK poverty and its impact on children and young people

Around one in five of our population (20%) were in poverty in 2020/21 – 13.4 million people. Of these, 7.9 million were working-age adults, 3.9 million were children. Poverty for families receiving universal credit remains very high, at 46%. Children have consistently had the highest poverty rates throughout the last 25 years.

Around four in ten children in lone-parent families were in poverty, compared with one in four of those in couple families. Lone-parent families (with a single, working-age adult) were by far the most likely of any family type to be struggling with poverty.

 (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, UK poverty 2023)

The impact of poverty on children can include: -

  • Studying without food
  • Lack of a healthy diet due to a reliance on food banks and cheaper food.
  • Cold and damp bedrooms contributing to ill health.
  • An overwhelming sense of shame, especially if they are aware of their circumstances being different to their peers.
  • Being bullied by other young people.
  • Mental ill health.
  • Living with a sense of insecurity due to moving homes and schools frequently.


Think piece

‘Go always, not only to those that want you, but to those that want you most.’[1] John Wesley

Offering to support a school is a fantastic way of witnessing to the good news of the gospel. Support can take many forms and is much more than offering to do an assembly (e.g., listening to children reading, trips, homework clubs, praying). Deciding which school to support will mean visiting your local schools. As you visit, pray about which school needs you. Remember some schools may be well supported by active parents and volunteers, so consider volunteering and supporting a school which does not have a lot of support and where you could really make a difference. In areas of low-income, where parents are often struggling financially it might be hard for people to volunteer and provide resources for the local school. You might discover that the school that ‘wants’ you the most is also the school that ‘needs’ you most.


Question: Which schools have the most need?

The most important thing is to ASK them.

  • Book an appointment and talk to the headteacher, find out what concerns they have, and how you might respond.
  • Remember you cannot do everything. The ideal match is where your resources respond to the school that needs you most.

Factors which may be present:

  • Insecure employment and low paid work
  • Food insecurity: Reliance on food banks
  • Parents working two jobs to manage finances.
  • Dominance of rental properties in poor condition
  • High unemployment: area has been abandoned by industry
  • A persistent lack of investment in the area
  • Insecure or crowded housing
  • Someone in the family in prison.
  • Uneducated/under educated parents
  • Level of pupil’s anti-social behaviour in local shops and area
  • High percentage of children on free school meals
  • Families struggling to purchase school uniform
  • Exposure of children to addictions (drugs and alcohol) in the area.


[1] John Wesley’s 12 Rules for a Helper. This rule was added at 1745 Conference and appears as Rule 11 in 1753 version.