The Presence of God in Ashington School

We recently interviewed Ashington School’s Headteacher, Pip Fairweather along with Headboy, Hayden and Headgirl, Evie.

What is the best thing about Ashington School?

Hayden: “I think it’s all the lovely teachers, and how you get to interact with each other, they are so nice, and are really helpful. Everyone is local as well, which means you can see them around the village! And the fact that we are pretty much one big family!

Evie: “I think the best thing about Ashington School is that everyone is loved by one another, everyone is kind and shares, but also they forgive if anyone is hurt. Also, the teachers always ask how you are to make sure that you feel safe and loved in your environment”.

What have you learnt about God in your school?

Hayden: “The fact that He is really forgiving, he will forgive you no matter what you have done, He loves everyone, He is very kind, and He treats everyone equally.”

Evie: “We have learnt about how He cares for us, no matter what we have done!”

Pip, as Head Teacher of Ashington School, what is special to you about this place?

“Lots of things! When I first walked into the building three years ago, even before I crossed the threshold, I could feel that there was something different about the school. There is a real sense of calm and peace, even when you walk through the corridors, you can feel it.

When I started, it actually worried me that my influence would take that away, whatever this feeling was that you couldn’t describe. But, as time went on, I had more and more people come into the building –  parents, staff, visitors –  that were all saying the exact same thing! It seems that God’s presence is in the fabric of the building. It’s there! You can feel it in the people, the relationships and atmosphere”.

How has God’s presence changed things within the school?

“There has been more than one occasion in which I have had to put my faith in God that something will resolve itself. When huge challenges come along, I can put my faith in Him that I don’t actually have to solve by myself… and it always resolves! Those who work in the school, people with faith and without, all say the same thing: there has been these moments of miracles, where you can’t say how anything else could have happened! It’s really difficult to quantify!

I had never worked in a church school before and the difference is huge in terms of people’s attitudes and the children’s attitudes.  The love and respect is incredibly special and rare. Even though we are a ‘church school’, it doesn’t just say C of E on the sign – it is real, it is part of the school.

Recently we held worship out in the woodlands, which is something I would have never imagined, even three years ago. When I joined the school, I wasn’t a Christian, I even asked the previous Head if it was even worth me applying for the role, as I didn’t have a faith.

However, it is something I got when I came here, so my entire faith journey happened in this place! Being welcomed into the Church community was such a huge thing for me, followed then by joining an Alpha course.  It has enabled me to lead the school in the way it should be! I don’t think I could do it without having a faith, it wouldn’t be real or authentic”.

As Headteacher, what makes you aware of the presence of God in school?

“I think the way the children are with each other. The way they speak about each other and the school, you can tell that God’s presence is here as children feel it, and the adults feel it. We are working together with him.

When we sat together to decide what was the most important aspect in the way we treated our children, what we wanted our relationship with the children to look like, it was then easy to say, ‘We want everyone to feel loved’! For example, if a child did something wrong, we want to treat them with unquestioning forgiveness, because of an unconditional love, in hope, faith and trust, that they would make the right choices afterwards.

There is a Bible verse at the centre of our Christian vision, telling us that love never fails. Even though we try to model this as adults, you see it in the children, the children understand it! They embody that understanding of love and forgiveness, and that’s really where God’s presence is”.