Back to Seer Green Church of England Combined School where I had great fun with music a couple of years ago, for their 150th Anniversary celebration. Singing was great, and Olwyn Oakley, children, staff and friends seem to be enjoying life. Good to share the assembly with Gaenor Hockey, the local Vicar, who is well known and loved in school.
150 is a great age to be, along with Big Ben, the Red Cross, the Suez Canal, the Liberal Party, and the Royal Albert Bridge of the Great Western Railway. It was also the year John Brown was hanged at Harper’s Ferry, and the year of the Pennsylvania Oil Rush, when people began seriously to use oil from the ground rather than whale oil for their domestic lighting.
Well that’s enough history — how was school?
My eye was taken by some colourful Story Bags. These contain stories and all the gear you need to bring them to life with very young children. There was an interesting display of photos and records from the school, which has a very full set of logbooks, admissions registers and inspection reports. I loved a 1905 exercise book by a girl called Maude, describing the British Empire, the reign of King Josiah, and Queen Alexandra.
Attendance in those days was much worse than today, as children were often required to help their parents at work, specially at harvest. Reading through the records shows how innocent in some ways children were, but also how young they sometimes were when they first encountered death, poverty and disease. The logbooks lovingly record the joys and sorrows of school life, and circumstances of thier lives.
I was thrilled to see how this school and its Church are building links between Seer Green and Kisiizi in Western Uganda. Staff and friends, including a local doctor, have been out to Uganda to help in the hospital and school. The display of children's profiles and materials from Kisiizi was very moving, including some home made footballs and skipping ropes.
In an increasingly globalised world, the Christian Church is the greatest network on earth, and building relationships across it is something Church schools are wonderfully well placed to do. There’s an immediacy and closeness across cultures we feel in belonging together in one world, whether giving or receiving hospitality. It takes a whole world to know Christ. There is no down side, and I hope all our 281 schools will work in increasingly focussed ways to create and sustain these kinds of link, as they are doing at Seer Green.