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. Established initially through a pilot scheme in South London in 2007, it was 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, we have now completed two years of School Pastors’ presence on Monday and Friday lunchtimes in Charter Academy, an inner city Secondary School situated in Isambard Brunel Road. With three new School Pastors (including our own Ruth Davis from Christ Church) having recently completed their training, and a new Co-ordinator (Andy Bullock from the Family Church in St Mary’s Road) we are set to extend our operations into Miltoncross Academy in Milton Road early in the Autumn term this year.

The School Pastors normally patrol in teams of three, although we are able to work alone within our current environment if necessary. The area of patrol at Charter covers the quadrangles, the refectory and the library. Indications are that the area of patrol in Miltoncross may be somewhat wider. At Charter, the Pastors have also attended several times on other occasions on request from the Head Teacher. We are keen to extend the initiative into other schools in the Portsmouth area and, consequently, we are actively 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 necessary, they are reported to the appropriate authority by the Co-ordinator.

As one of the eight School Pastors, I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work within schools through the Holy Spirit as part of God’s mission in nurturing some of the more vulnerable children in our society. Credit must go to our own Sandra Morgan for her initiative and enthusiasm in setting up School Pastors in Portsmouth, and I express my sincere thanks to her for that.

Roger Banks

School Pastor and Mission of the month rep’