Lynne Gall answers my call with excitement in her voice. “I’ve just been preparing my Scripture lessons for next week,” she tells me. After 18 years of teaching Scripture at Beverly Hills and Kingsgrove primary schools, taking a term off due to the virus has been disappointing.
“We’ve missed those lessons, but I understand why we are doing it,” says Miss Gall, who co-ordinates several Scripture classes for the two schools. “Of course, we have missed the children. We miss their questions and their interest in the lessons and seeing the development of their understanding of the faith.”
Since schools transitioned to online learning at the end of March, Special Religious Education classes have been put on hold. Youthworks has developed a clear set of guidelines for teachers and helpers to assist in the safe return to SRE lessons, outlining what is required for distancing and hygiene.
In a video on the Youthworks website, the organisation’s primary school SRE advisor, Kate Haggar, says, “When we go back things will look different… We want SRE to return as smoothly and safely for everyone as possible”.
Matt Shannon, the families’ pastor and Scripture co-ordinator for Minchinbury parish, predicts that the disruption to SRE classes may be tough for some students.
“Kids and young people, in my experience, thrive on consistency,” he says. “The fact that we haven’t been able to be there every week means there’s been a lack of consistency. We will be trying to rebuild the relationships with students, and I’m looking forward to that challenge. Pray that the children find their feet quickly and that they feel comfortable to ask questions and discover what’s in the Bible.”
“We want SRE to return as smoothly and safely for everyone as possible.”
Mr Shannon’s team of teachers have also longed to see the students and serve them and their families during the time away. “We want to, when we go back, do our best to care for everyone in the school – the families, the staff and the kids themselves,” he says. “We obviously value spiritual health as SRE teachers, and physical health, so we want to follow the heart of the restrictions and love the people in the school.”
Although Scripture hasn’t been able to run, Miss Gall and her team have been using their time effectively. “My Scripture teachers said, ‘Well, we can meet at this time for prayer using Zoom!’. Every week we have prayed for Scripture at the time of our Scripture class.”
As physical classes return, Miss Gall asks that people would pray for SRE and for the safety of everyone involved. “Pray that the children will be keen to pick up and run with Scripture once again, and that their attitudes will be positive. And pray that the Holy Spirit will work through God’s word as we teach. That’s the most important thing.”