Presbyterian Herald May 2022

Sarah Harding

25.4.2022 | Presbyterian Herald

The May 2022 edition of the Presbyterian Herald is now available. Editor, Sarah Harding, introduces this month's edition.

Education needs our support

Back in the Herald in 1980 (featured in ‘In this month’) Rev Tom Reid wrote, “Spending on education is the nation’s investment for the future.” PCI has long recognised that investing in education, in a holistic way, is hugely important. This month we dedicate much of this edition to the theme of education – including articles that reflect a variety of voices on the current challenges, concerns and opportunities within the sector.

Ahead of the Independent Review of Education in Northern Ireland, PCI recently held a conference to gauge thoughts and opinions from many Presbyterians who are key stakeholders in the sector. Dr Andy Brown outlines the main findings, including a recognition that the current model in NI is “an under-funded, under-resourced, results-driven system beset by duplication and competition.” There is also a challenge to our whole denomination that “what schools need is tangible and unconditional support from churches.”
One church that is already modelling this is Ballykeel Presbyterian. The church is a stone’s throw from Ballykeel Primary and minister Dr Martin McNeely serves on the board of governors and has a good working relationship with the principal. Martin highlights that the successful partnership has come through “long-term commitment”.

Also on the topic of education, we feature an ‘As I see it’ from Graham Hawthorne on special schools; a ‘Life lessons’ from Ruth Dalzell on the work of Scripture Union; a report from Peter Hamill about a workshop on educational underachievement in the Controlled sector; and a piece from William Hayes on education issues in the South.

One article that particularly struck a chord with me is Suzanne Harrison’s ‘My story’. For those who feel invested in education, whether through their own work, or that of a loved one, or whether through having their children or grandchildren in the system; Suzanne articulates well the emotional pressure that many are feeling.

She describes how school staff were already feeling over-stretched and overwhelmed before the pandemic and in current times they are “running on less than reserves”. Yet, despite this, she expresses a greater perspective and offers a challenge that applies to all of us: “The staff in education right now are hanging in there and doing their very best; many…are Christ’s hands and feet for many families and children. What better example of the gospel and what an opportunity for us as churches to link in with schools to provide some extra support in meeting basic needs.”

As Andy Brown echoes: “…there are huge practical needs in schools which can only be dealt with by rolling up our sleeves.”

The Presbyterian Herald is the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It provides a forum for debate and discussion on a wide range of topics and aims to challenge and encourage Presbyterians, as well as inform them about what the wider Church is involved in. It has a readership in excess of 25,000 and is distributed throughout Ireland.

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