St Margaret’s C of E Junior School
Flourish as a family, love to learn, make memories, shine!
What is courageous advocacy?
Courageous advocacy is defined by the Church of England as “the act of speaking out against an issue of injustice, often on behalf of those whose voice is not heard.” At St Margaret’s we encourage and support our children to become courageous advocates who believe that they can become ‘agents of change’ to strive towards a fairer and more joyous world. This means that they champion causes that are special and meaningful to them; connected to matters and concerns personal and close to home for them or linked to wider global issues.
Courageous Advocacy at St Margaret’s
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live in unity! Psalm 133
St Margaret’s CE Junior School is a strong Christian community where all unite and flourish.
Our family is guided by God’s teachings of love, courage, hope and service, enabling everyone to thrive as happy and fulfilled individuals.
Ignited by God’s Spirit, our children shine as a light in the world.
All acts of courageous advocacy at St Margaret’s are driven by our school’s Christian vision. Children act together with a purpose that people may live happily together in unity. Our Christian vision encompasses God’s vision that everyone should live well together. Courage is one of our core Christian values and is at the heart of all actions and decision making by children and adults. Another core Christian value is service. We actively promote the value of serving God and by doing that, serving others in the school, local and global communities.
“Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
In collective worship, RE lessons and other times of reflection and prayer, biblical references are explored to deepen children’s understanding and enable them to live out our Christian vision and values to serve others and enable themselves and others to flourish. Children learn how Jesus demonstrated values of courage, hope, service and love, and are inspired to follow His example. Children and adults learn about the life of Jesus and God’s vision for the world and reflect on the message of the Bible in the context of their own character and actions.
Jesus spoke up for people who were disadvantaged, disempowered and ignored by their communities. Children are encouraged to reflect on Jesus’ actions and teachings to inform their own values, judgements and courageous choices. Other learning experiences, including, PSHE lessons, character education and learning about British values, enables children to grow in character and independence, develop their sense of respect and justice, and grow in courage “to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8).
The Church of England also promotes the Christian values of wisdom, community and dignity as key values associated with courageous advocacy. For more insight into the theology behind courageous advocacy, refer to section 1 in the Church of England document, ‘Courageous Advocacy’.
The fact that our rich, ambitious and inclusive curriculum, is underpinned by our Big Ideas of: Wellbeing; Character, Courage and Resilience; Identity and Diversity; Growth and Aspirations; Restorative Relationships & Reconciliation; Communities and Culture, ensures that character education is a golden thread throughout the whole curriculum. Character education contributes towards children acquiring with the knowledge, skills, virtues and strength of character to act courageously.
At St Margaret’s, aspirational teaching encourages and challenges children to be their best selves, to take pride in their work, and to be positive members of the school and wider communities. Lessons and experiences across the curriculum, opens the children’s eyes to an understanding of the world, their place in it and how they can act to make positive changes for their local and global communities. Children learn about their own and other communities and world events and issues. They learn about people in history and present day who have shown courage and compassion whilst acting courageously to make the world a better place. This offers children hope and the tenacity to succeed in their endeavours.
Driven by our aim for our children to ‘shine as a light in the world’, staff encourage the children to become ‘agents of change’, championing causes which are especially meaningful for the children themselves. With a well-chosen text as a stimulus, each year group immerses themselves in fact-finding, debate, planning and taking courageous actions to make a positive difference to the school environment, local and/or global communities. Staff equip the children with skills to research, discuss, challenge, confidently voice their views and opinions, convince others to support their cause, and to become active citizens now and for the future.
“If the purpose of education is the promotion of life in all its fullness and human flourishing, then this must, by necessity, involve developing young people who can learn to flourish in every aspect of their lives – young people who can work for the flourishing of others and for the planet we share.” (Church of England ‘Courageous Advocacy’)
Courageous Advocacy Projects
Our courageous advocacy projects are a step beyond a national awareness day or general fundraising event. This academic year, each year group at St Margaret’s started with a stimulus text and, following discussion of the themes within the text, children have identified a cause which resonates with them. The children have asked questions, researched facts, shared ideas about how they might take action, and have been empowered to begin on their journey as agents of change.
The Church of England sets out an example plan of steps that may be pursued by pupils as they plan and take action:
Step 1: Identify a problem or issue you care about
Step 2: Investigate as much as you can so you understand: consider all views
Step 3: Work out what could be done to change or improve it
Step 4: Identify the people with influence to make those changes
Step 5: Consider whose help you might use to make your voice more persuasive
Step 6: Persuade those with power to make changes to do something about it
Encouraged and supported by adults, the children at St Margaret’s will engage in a range of strategies to raise awareness, influence the community to understand and perhaps get on board, as well as engaging with key decision makers; for example, the school governors, local mayor, MP and businesses. To safeguard the children, staff support them by leading them to consider the possible outcomes of their actions and ensuring that they take into account law, school policies and procedures, ethical and safety considerations. Teachers also take guidance from Christian Aid about the best ways forward for courageous advocacy and activism in schools.
An essential part of the courageous advocacy process is for the children to reflect upon and evaluate the impact of their actions. Throughout the year, children share their progress and achievements with their courageous advocacy projects in class and with the school community through collective worship, displays, the School Council, school website and newsletters.
Year 4 - Litter picking as part of Year 4’s Courageous Advocacy project - May 2022
School Community Courageous Advocacy Close to Home
A charity that is very close to our hearts at St Margaret’s is the local Trussell Trust food bank, located at our St Margaret’s Church church centre. At Harvest, Christmas and other times, the school community contributes essential food and toiletry items to the food bank. These are then shared with families in need within the local area. Representatives from the food bank visit school to explain the distribution process to the children. When we are able, groups of children and staff walk to the church centre for the children to help weigh in the donations and organise them ready for distribution. This really helps the children to feel involved in making a difference within our local community.
The St Margaret’s school community has acted courageously in other ways to support to each other and the local community. This support has included crowd funding for vulnerable families during the first COVID lockdown and allocation of food bank vouchers to families in need. Fundraising has often involved charities and causes close to the hearts of our school community with our children and families often assisting in selecting those that have a personal resonance to them.
School Community Courageous Advocacy Further Afield
Through long-standing links with the One World Links charity, we are incredibly proud to be partnered with BDEC Messina School in Bo, Sierra Leone. Our strong links with the school have enabled our Assistant Head to travel to Africa to spend time at the school and with members of the Bo community, plus we have been privileged to welcome a teacher from Bo to St Margaret’s.
On learning more about BDEC Messina, and the fact that the school did not have easy access to fresh water, pupils at St Margaret’s were inspired to raise money for BDEC Messina school to build their own well. A sponsored water-carrying event enabled children, families and staff to raise nearly £4,000, more than enough to build the well and contribute towards other resources for our partner school. See photos of the well and our friends in Bo on the International Links page HERE.
This year the St Margaret’s children, families and staff will be raising more money for the BDEC Messina school community so that they can build a fence around their school grounds to help keep the pupils safe and school building more secure.
Children from St Margaret’s take part in the annual ‘Day of the African Child’ event. This has involved children meeting and talking with adults and other children involved with the OWL charity, as well as interviewing our local MP. The children presented him with persuasive letters to ask that our MP take action to promote accessible education for all children around the world.
Awareness Days and Fundraising
Each academic year, children and adults across the Federation enthusiastically participate with, and contribute towards, a wide range of charities and awareness days. These include:
- Comic Relief – Red Nose Day
- Children in Need
- Sport Relief
- Save the Children – Christmas Jumper Day
- The Royal British Legion
- Jeans for Genes Day
- Downs Day
Other Courageous Actions
Courageousness is a quality that is at the heart of all actions and decision-making made by children and adults at St. Margaret’s, including governors. Staff act courageously when safeguarding children, supporting families and when modelling our high standards and expectations for relationships and behaviours. As a Federation, we work to ensure that sustainability is considered at all points and embedded in decision making. Along with the usual recycling of resources and careful budget decisions, school developments in recent years have included: changing lighting to low energy; planting a wild flower meadow; extending the school garden; purchase of benches and tables made out of recycled materials. Children have had a voice in some of these decisions through class feedback, collective worship discussions, School Council and Gardening Club.
Year 3 Courageous Advocacy Project linked to Wangari’s Trees of Peace
In the Spring Term, Year 3 wrote letters to Mrs Anstee about our Courageous Advocacy Project linked to Wangari’s Trees of Peace. We have been learning about deforestation and thinking about how this effects the environment and what we can do to help.
In their letters to Mrs Anstee, children in SM1 and SM2 explained that they wanted to raise some money for some raised plant beds at school so that residents of Cherry Tree Lodge could come and garden with them. Children in SM3 wanted to raise money for a garden party with the residents of Cherry Tree Lodge.
Each class also chose a tree sapling to be planted on the school site linked to the Queen’s Jubilee, which will be planted during the Summer Term!
Year 6 Courageous Advocacy inspired by Greta and the Giants
Year 5 Courageous Advocacy Project - February 2022