St John’s Church has been very much part of the community in Great Clacton for a very long time – it has been there for nearly 900 years. (These days St Mark’s Church on Lymington Avenue is also part of the parish.) Great Clacton Juniors has had a special link with St John’s and St Mark’s for more than 10 years, since it became a church school – and this link continues to develop and grow.
A number of people from the church are regular visitors to school:
- Revd Mark Mulryne (Minister and Chair of Governors at the school)
- Miss Hannah Ward (the church’s Schools and Families Worker)
Many more people from the church come to help with other activities and at special events.
Miss Ward spends each Wednesday in school supporting RE teaching in different year groups, running a lunchtime prayer activity club and leading a class worship (often with Revd Mulryne). One of the team from St John’s also leads the whole-school worship a couple of times every half term.
As well as these regular activities, during the year Miss Ward and Revd Mulryne visit each year group for a St John’s project:
Year 3 – “Posada”, which re-tells the Christmas story, during the season of Advent;
Year 4 – the Shoebox Scheme in the autumn (jointly with the ‘Together’ group from St John’s) to provide Christmas presents for children from other countries who wouldn’t otherwise get one;
Year 5 – the Lent Project, in the run-up to Easter, as a way to focus on doing what’s most important in life;
Year 6 – the Leaver’s Project, near the end of the school year, in order to look back at their time at Great Clacton, and to think about their move to a new school.
These projects involve work in school and a celebration service in church to which parents are always invited.
Alongside this, the children attend a number of other school services that are held at special times throughout the year – Harvest, Christmas, Easter, and a final end-of-year one in July.
The church is also working towards building up a range of visits to St John’s for each year group that support the RE curriculum – including exploring the church building, looking at Christian symbols and thinking about the service of Holy Communion, and also Easter Outside, which is an interactive walk through the Easter story set in the churchyard.
As well as all that’s organised for the pupils, the school week begins with a short prayer meeting every Monday morning, led by Revd Mulryne, and open to all members of staff, to pray for the week ahead.
The wider church family at St John’s and St Mark’s also supports the school in a number of other ways. Here are a few examples –
- the church provides a Bible for each Year 3 child as they join to keep and use in school and to take home when they leave Year 6;
- church family members often help with special school events such as fireworks night and the summer fete;
- important events at school are often included in the church prayer diary so the church family are aware of them and pray for them;
- the church Banner Group have recently made and presented a cloth to cover the Worship Table in the school hall, using designs created by the children, to reflect the relationship between Great Clacton and St John’s.;
- the ‘Together’ group work with the Year 4 children on the Shoebox project, providing the wrapped shoeboxes and coming into school to help the children pack up the boxes.
In return the school often supports what’s happening at St John’s and St Mark’s. For example the school choir sings at one of the Christmas services, and at things like the Together group’s “Holiday at Home” in the summer. Also, sometimes a group of pupils will prepare something for one of the church’s special services, for example, on Remembrance Sunday.
The church also runs a number of activities throughout the year, which children from Great Clacton Juniors and their families often come to:
- the summer Holiday Club (and a Half Term Holiday Club) at St John’s;
- Friday Y’s (the weekly club for years 3-6) at St Mark’s;
- Sunday Funtime (a “Sunday school” during the morning service) at St Mark’s;
- Tea Time Church (once a month on Sunday afternoon) at St John’s.