Across the country, teaching staff are working hard to create engaging virtual lessons so that their students can keep up with work at this difficult time. Christ the King Sixth Forms are three Catholic sixth forms, located in south-east London and Kent, serving the local community across Lewisham, Bexley and neighbouring boroughs. With many students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, our students are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As a group of Catholic sixth forms, serving a multi-faith community, the chaplaincy at Christ the King Sixth Forms plays a vital role.
I’m proud of my staff, who have risen to the challenge of moving to new ways of working and coming up with innovative ways to communicate with and inspire students. Our chaplaincy team is at the core of our sixth Forms and through this crisis, our community has become stronger. The wellbeing of staff and students is at the heart of everything we do, and we have tried to find innovative ways to ensure staff and students remain connected and supported throughout this crisis.
As a Catholic sixth form, sharing the word of God is a vital way to uphold our Catholic mission and to give comfort to staff and students. Helping ensure there is some routine in our daily life is so important: at 8:30 each day the Christ the King sixth form chaplaincy team, led by Javier Elderfield, send each student a thought for the day, with a spiritual message to uplift and support students.
The daily staff reflection is focused on messages for staff to help them through this time. At 12 noon each day a virtual prayer group takes place, led by the chaplaincy team, using Microsoft Teams. Prayer is an important way for staff and students to find hope and comfort and students and staff come together to pray, reflect and sing at this time, helping to give a sense of routine and normality.
We have looked at other opportunities, such as working with our Choir Director Natalie Christian-John, who has been recording uplifting videos to share with students. These have proved very popular with students and staff who can view the gospel messages and songs online. The sixth forms gospel choirs would normally meet weekly and perform at different events, both internally and externally and this is a way for staff and students to enjoy the uplifting power of song.
The chaplaincy continues to work on innovative ways to engage staff and students remotely, such as asking students to send uplifting video content, like dancing or playing an instrument, these videos are shared with local care homes to lift the spirits of the staff and patients. A Talking Heads initiative has been set up, where interviews with guest speakers take place which are shared with staff. The inaugural Talking Heads guest was David Wells, catechist, teacher and author who regularly speaks at conferences throughout the world.
Working with charities has always been a big part of sixth form life for Christ the King Sixth Form students and supporting charity has never been more vital in these times of crises. When it became apparent there was a shortage of PPE, our schools donated 200 science goggles and 600 pairs of disposable gloves to Lewisham hospital, along with food for the staff. Donations were also made to other local charities including St Vincent de Paul Society, a local charity. We started a Just Giving Link, to raise money for three local charities that were hit hard by the coronavirus. The money raised will be donated to Bexley and Greenwich Hospice, Refuge Charity and Lewisham Foodbank. A target of £1,000 was set and was exceeded in only a week (currently, the figure stands at £1148).
We are so proud of our students who always go above and beyond to support charities and the community. As a community day activity, students wrote heartfelt messages of support for the NHS and submitted them via thanks a million NHS, where the messages are directed to local hospitals. Students were thrilled to get messages of thanks back from Lewisham Hospital. A selection of our students’ messages can be found on our twitter feed. Christ the King scholarship graduate programme students Matthew Miller and Hannah Danso have both signed up as NHS volunteers and will be updating us on their progress in supporting the NHS.
Our St Mary's site is opposite Queen Mary's hospital in Sidcup and we wanted to do something to show the staff we are thinking of them. Our gardeners mowed huge NHS lettering into the grass which can be seen from the outside. We also designed and printed a huge "Thank you NHS" banner, which we placed outside the College, by the bus stop, which is used by many NHS staff going to work and can be seen by anyone driving in. We've already had messages of thanks from staff that have seen it and appreciate the support
This year we developed a Christ the King Sixth Form prayer, which has helped the community to come together and pray at this time.
Christ the King Sixth Forms Prayer
God of Love,
As members of the Christ the King Sixth Form family we ask for your continued blessing upon our work and study. You are the source of all truth and wisdom.
May we experience in full the Life that you offer us each day, to become the best that we can be.
Let no distractions or fears prevent us from trusting in your endless care for us.
Shine your Light into our lives that we may become brighter beacons of faith, hope and love in our community.
We make this prayer through Christ the Lord.