School Pastors is an initiative from the Ascension Trust, which is a Christian-based Charitable Trust, operating a successful national initiative known as Street Pastors since 2003. School Pastors was set up with the desire to assist schools with pupils who were experiencing difficulties with their school life. It was established initially through a pilot scheme in Lewisham, South London in 2007, and launched nationally in 2010.
The School Pastors initiative, like every other initiative of the Ascension Trust, is God-inspired and focused. The principles that underpin the work of the School Pastors are thoroughly Biblical, with the purpose of embracing an opportunity to express a very practical demonstration of Christian values and beliefs, in the pursuit of God’s mission to care for our world and all those within it. Birthed in prayer, it is one of the ways the church is being sent out by God’s Spirit to be both a sign and an agent of the coming Kingdom of God.
Here in Portsmouth, Sandra Morgan, supported by a small group of like-minded Christians, has worked tirelessly over the last year or so, in conjunction with the Ascension Trust, to introduce School Pastors into Portsmouth. School Pastors now have a presence in Charter Academy (formerly St. Luke’s Church of England School), an inner city Secondary School situated in Isambard Brunel Road. They have just completed their first year of operation, following a period of training.
There are six School Pastors on patrol during the lunchtime period, three operating on Mondays and three on Fridays.
The area of patrol encompasses the main quadrangle, a smaller grassed area which is restricted to the year 7s (first years at the school), the refectory and the library. The Pastors have also attended several times on other occasions on request from the Head Teacher. Sandra is keen to extend the initiative into other schools in the Portsmouth area and, consequently, she is looking to recruit additional School Pastors.
The School Pastors are from various churches around the Portsmouth area, and some are also Street Pastors. They are supported by a number of Prayer Pastors, who provide their invaluable support with prayer during the lunchtime days of duty. It is comforting for the School Pastors to know that prayers are being said for all the vulnerable children at the school.
Whilst most of the conversations between the School Pastors and the children remain confidential, it is very important for the Pastors to be aware of any potential abuse or bullying, or occasions when safeguarding could be an issue. Such instances are shared by the School Pastors and, if relevant, they are reported to the appropriate authority by the Lead Pastor.
As one of the six School Pastors, I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work within Charter Academy through the Holy Spirit as part of God’s mission in nurturing some of the more vulnerable children in our society.