BACK TO SCHOOL: St Barnabas Primary School receives Bishop of Birmingham Award

Words by Ed King / Pics by Ed King and St Barnabas Primary School

Erdington’s St Barnabas Church of England Primary recently received a Bishop of Birmingham Award, one of only three schools across the diocese to achieve the accolade.

Bishop David Urquhart, the longest serving bishop in the Church of England, presented the award during a special visit to the Spring Lane school last month.

Having been notified about winning the award in March 2022, the school staff and children had waited months to welcome the bishop – who brought a special trophy to recognise the school’s commitment to Christian values.

In an official citation sent to St Barnabas, Bishop Urquhart commended how Christian ‘values are illustrated and lived out by all in the school’ and how the children there can ‘use them to reflect upon their lives.’

Arriving in time for morning assembly, the bishop was met by St Barnabas’s Values and Ethos Committee, made up of children from across the school year groups.

Visibly excited and curious to meet the bishop, the children engaged with the senior clergyman and talked about the school theme of the week, ‘honesty’ – and how Fridays were ‘peace and quiet’ days at St Barnabas.

Bishop Urquart was patient and unpatronising with all the children, looking through the book pf reflections and talking to them about their individual beliefs, faiths, and the school’s core principles and values, before heading into the main school hall for a special assembly.

Hosted by Reverend Emma Sykes from St Barnabas Church, the assembly began with singing ‘Oh Happy Day’ before members of the Values and Ethos Committee told Bishop Urquhart the lessons they learned from the Christian parable of the Good Samaritan.

Harvey, Year 5, explained: “Out of all our key Bible stories which help us understand our footprint values, our favourite is the Good Samaritan. I think it teaches a lot about helping people and that everyone can make a difference through their actions.”

Safiyah, Year 3, added: “I think the Good Smartian teaches us to be respectful of others no matter your colour or religion.”

Leo, Year 4, said: “I think the Good Smartian is a good story because it helps people to help other people no matter who they are they don’t have to be our friend.”

Umaiza, Year 6, told Bishop David: “It helps us to understand that no matter who you are you can help people and other people can help you.”

Jeevan, Year 4, believed the parable “is important because it teaches us kindness and all faiths can be united and work together.”

Whilst Molly, Year 4, agreed “because of this story, we include everyone no matter who they are because we want to be like the good Smartian

Bishop Urquhart then told how the Good Samaritan was one of his first and favourite Christian stories, but how similar lessons of bravery and fortitude could be found from in David and Goliath.

The assembly then concluded by singing ‘Lord I Lift You Name On High’, and series Christian, Sikh, and Muslim prayers, alongside a special private prayer delivered by Bishop Urquhart.

After saying goodbye to the school and posing for a group photo with children and staff, Bishop Urquhart was keen to praise the good work and commitment to Christian values from everyone at St Barnabas.

He told Erdington Local: “The Bishop of Birmingham Award is for particular focus on Christian values and ethos in a school, and St Barnabas has integrated their values into the ordinary life of the school.

“They’re not just a ‘tick box’ – they’re really being lived and discussed and practiced by the children and staff, both at school and at home.

“And the welcome I’ve had this morning from the Values and Ethos Committee, which is made up of the children, has been really remarkable. They’re able to talk about the difficulties and realities of being honest as one of the important bits of our relationship together.

“Faith is caught rather than taught, and children have a rather wonderful way of inquiring into the really big questions: why are we here, who is God, how do we pray, does it matter…? They also look at adults to see if the things that adults say are being put into practice, so in that sense they bring an openness and honesty.

“And the idea that faith is just an idea is not good enough, it’s actually lived and so that’s what’s happening here – they are practicing, living, and building trust in God and each other and trying to live in a complicated and uncertain world.”

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