One casualty of the school closures is School Pastors

School Pastors Group
Front row (left to right), the new Tiverton recruits: Jonathan Schnarr, Liz Grout, Margaret Wallwork, Janice Kitchen. Back row: Helen White, Jenny Tower, Trevor Colby, Gill Sharland, Marjorie May, Sarah Colby (Lewis Clarke/Devon Live)

Pupils struggling with bullying and other emotional issues had been getting help from friendly grown-ups who are not their teachers or parents.

Dedicated School Pastors mingled at breaktimes, ready to listen to children who were lonely, stressed or in need of a chat.

“We have diverted fights”

Jenny Tower, coordinator of School Pastors for Tiverton, Devon, says their team sought to “pour calm” where they might find trouble. “We have diverted fights – boys will be boys, and it’s usually the boys isn’t it? If we can be in the right place at the right time, we can nip that in the bud without being a teacher.”

Badge of office
Badge of office: Duncan Withall from Ascension Trust gives new recruit Jonathan Schnarr his School Pastor cap (Lewis Clark/Devon Live)

Tiverton recently celebrated the arrival of six new School Pastors at Cullompton Community College (CCC) and Tiverton High School. Duncan Withall of Ascension Trust, which runs the nationwide scheme as well as the highly successful street pastors scheme, officiated at the 6 February commissioning ceremony.

Local church members had also set up a rota to pray for the School Pastors.

Young people’s issues include cyber bullying, uninterested parents, peer pressure and exam stress (although that has been temporarily removed by the coronavirus closures). There is also the danger of falling prey to the ‘county lines’ drug dealers.

In March, there had been 400 School Pastors helping at 31 schools across Britain.

School Pastors were willing to share their Christian faith if asked a question, and as trust built, found youngsters would start to share their worries.

Julie Phelan, headteacher at CCC, commented: “I have huge faith in what they’re doing, and I’d like to give them a huge thanks for giving up their time, which they do freely and regularly.”