We believe the children are our future, and that future looks bright if the children of South Kilworth Church of England Primary are anything to go by...
With a Christian vision of ‘grounded, growing and grateful’, it’s a joy to see children as young as seven leading Collective Worship on any given school day in South Kilworth. It may be a small village primary, but the level of enthusiasm for spiritual growth and loving service is as great as the oak tree on the assembly hall wall.
South Kilworth has its own Pupil Worship Team, currently made up of eight children from years three through to six. They ‘set up’ the prayer table and Collective Worship every day, write prayers and lead their fellow pupils in praise, they take part in acting out Bible stories and meet regularly, living out the school’s vision and values through their care for each other and the world around them.
Kerry Willars, Head of School, is incredibly proud of her pupils. She says: “The children model our values daily, spotting issues in the community and through their curriculum work, and plan how to make a difference.”
Last year, the Sapling Class (years two, three and four) found out about water supply problems through their geography work and decided they could help. They planned a sponsored mud run, sold pictures, and held a cake sale, raising more than £300 for Water Aid.
Most recently at Harvest, alongside their service in St Nicholas Church, the Pupil Worship Team decided to collect warm clothes to help those who might be cold this winter, as well as produce for Lutterworth Foodbank.
Kerry believes the children are keen to apply for a leadership position because they know it’s a privilege to be able to encourage others in prayer and to support their school. When asked why they want to take on this role, the children’s replies are truly inspiring and thought-provoking:
“Having children as worship leaders shows children that God is standing with children and he is always with us throughout the day - you can do the day because he is standing next to you!”
“Being a worship leader helps to make the school a happy place…”
“If children do this role instead of grown-ups, they have practice in case they want to get a job in a church when they are an adult.”
“It is another way to represent our school and an important tradition.”
“Children can show they care for our Lord as much as grown-ups do.”
“Younger children in the school can look up to the older children and if they have a question about God they can ask us.”
Kerry continues: “As Head of School, I have no better words! The children understand completely why this role is such an important responsibility in our school and we are extremely proud of the way in which they share our vision and values in school and with the wider community. It is a privilege to work with them.”
It’s clear these children are growing steadily in God’s love, and it’s that gentle guidance from the school and church that is teaching them independence and allowing them to lead the way.
Sharon March, Associate Minister in the Avon Swift Benefice, enjoys a close relationship with South Kilworth, supporting the children to lead worship themselves, while nurturing them in their discipleship. She has regularly ‘helped-out’ at South Kilworth since 2018, leading services in St Nicholas Church, school Collective Worship, and walking alongside staff, pupils, and parents on their faith journeys.
Last year, Sharon was accepted onto the pilot cohort of the Church of England’s ‘Growing Faith’ Strategic Leadership Programme. She says: “I think it has helped me focus my activity in Avon Swift more on enabling children and young people to be heard, valued and appreciated for who they are now, not for who they will become as they get ‘older’ or ‘more adult’ or when they ‘grow up’ – or only when they join existing congregations.
“The children I work with share deep spiritual insights that are often rooted in their day-to-day lives.”
A good example of this was the South Kilworth Harvest service in church. “It’s really quick - and often easier - to decide and then ask the children to participate,” she explains. “For example, go down the route of ‘food donations please’. But that’s not how this works! I asked the worship team for ideas, and after some reflection they decided they wanted to ask for donations of winter clothes, which was amazing.”
Sharon is helping the school community express their spirituality in different ways. She works with the RE lead planning Collective Worship, enrichment days, and turns up when there are other social events at school. “They have a small prayer space in the hall, they have the words of the Lord’s Prayer on the wall in there too, and the staff are great at encouraging engagement with prayer spaces in each classroom.”
Working with schools is central to Sharon’s ministry and it’s working wonders in South Kilworth. She adds: “What I am seeing is welcome, acceptance, gratitude, discipleship, and community… for me, that’s church.”