Nearly three thousand students from schools throughout the Diocese of Durham have this week been attending school leavers services at Durham Cathedral ahead of making the move from primary to secondary school.
Children attended six services throughout the week and, in a change for this year, took part in a series of activities, including writing down some of their thoughts; making pipe-cleaner models of the people most important to them as a way of offering thanks; placing stones at the base of cross to say sorry for something and ask Godâ€™s forgiveness; creating pieces for a giant jigsaw with their name on and asking for a prayer to be said as they move to their new school.
The theme across all of the prayer station workshops and the services was â€˜as you journey through life and particularly as you move to your new school – God is always with youâ€™.
Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Revd Mark Bryant, said: â€œLeavers services are important partly because some of the children will not have been in the Cathedral before and this is our way of welcoming them.
â€œThe activities are a big difference this year and are a way of encouraging the children to be in touch with the things that really matter to them. It is very exciting.
â€œEveryday, across the Diocese we educate more than 14,000 children, recognising how important the end of primary school and the move to secondary school is a big thing in childrenâ€™s lives – but they are not alone – God is always present.â€
One school attending the service on Wednesday 15th June was Northern Saints CE Primary School from Sunderland who recently won a national award for demonstrating innovation at Key Stage 2 through the formation of local partnerships in the Pupil Premium Awards 2016.
The pupil premium – worth Â£2.5 billion this year (Nationally) – has enabled schools to support some of the most vulnerable children in their care.
Head Teacher Steve Williamson said: â€œThis leavers service is a great recognition of the work of children at the end of their primary careers and a celebration of all the things to come. I am sure some of the work we have been doing that lead to our recent award is in its own way celebrated in this service also.â€