Our churches have close links with the schools in the parish, the most obvious being with Gorse Ride Schools (www.gorseride-jun.wokingham.sch.uk and http://www.gorseride-inf.wokingham.sch.uk ) as it is in the Junior School that St Mary & St John’s Church holds most of its services, Sunday by Sunday. Leaders from the church and school have regular meetings and church members are on the Governing Body.
St James’ Church has had a longstanding link with Finchampstead Church of England (Aided) Primary School since the PCC first rented and then bought the buildings which John Walter had first set up as a village school. The term ‘aided’ means that the church owns and is responsible for the buildings (in conjunction with the Diocese of Oxford) but the state ‘aids’ by providing funds for the provision of education. Foundation Governors (appointed by the PCC and the Diocese, as well as the Rector who is ex-officio) are in the majority on the school’s governing body and there is a distinctive Christian ethos. The Trust deed setting up the Church School says it is primarily for the children of the village and the Admissions Policy reflects this. Being a Voluntary Aided School, the Governors are responsible for setting the Admissions Policy for the school although applications are dealt with as part of Wokingham Borough Council’s co-ordinated scheme. The school children, staff, parents and governors come to the church for services each half-term.
Members of the clergy as well as lay members of the congregations of St James’ and St Mary & St John’s go into these schools as well as Nine Mile Ride School and Waverley School on a regular basis to lead assemblies taking the good news of Jesus.
In summer 2012 a church team of about 20 people took an Olympic Labyrinth into all four schools for the children to move round a track, hearing about past Olympians and Bible characters who had displayed similar great and noble character traits. The children took part in activities and games at each stopping point, gaining success stickers at each stage and an Olympic ‘medal’ (edible!) as they crossed the finishing line. The following term, assemblies featured stories from an incredible book ‘The Jesse Tree’. Other assembly themes have included Saints of the early church and Bible heroes. If anyone would like to explore joining the ‘assembly taking’ team, please speak to Rev Julie.
Our Associate Priest, Rev Mark-Aaron, is a member of the Governing Body at Nine Mile Ride School.
The parish has a link with Ranelagh School, the Church of England Secondary School in Bracknell, and many children go on to Ranelagh as a result of their parents’ regular attendance at St James’ and St Mary & St John’s churches.