What sorts of things do young people at the local comprehensive school want the communities around to say to them? I’ve sat down the pupils on the School Council at its last two meetings to ask this.
The Government design for each Inspiring Communities programme is that it should include a ‘Community Pledge’ and it seemed important to involve the pupils in developing this.
The School Council (whose members are drawn from each Tutor Group) has had the first ideas. They are going to be shared in the school through the Tutor Groups and with those on the neighbouring estates through a community magazine which is distributed across the area. There is a link between the two because one Inspiring Communities project has been to involve some of the pupils in the Community Press Office which produces the magazine.
There is nothing earth shattering about the first very provisional draft which groups what they have been saying under four headings:
Support the good. We want to support and encourage those people who try their best in the school and community.
Tackle the bad. We want to stop of few people making it difficult for others to live and learn well in the school and community.
Inspire individuals. We want lots of individual people to find how much more they can achieve for themselves.
Celebrate communities. We want people to know much more about the good things going on in the school and on the estates.
One of many dangers, of course, is that this is a series of abstract pious generalisations. The present idea, therefore, is that community groups will eventually be asked not only to adopt the Pledge but also to think about specific ways in which it they might deliver on it. The number of action points which result will be much more significant than how clever, glossy or well publicised the Pledge itself turns out to be.
Switching hats from being the Community Champion for the programme to being a local parish priest, I’m also now beginning to say to our churches that it would be good if the we were not only part of this but also including the themes in our prayers.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been going round taking some new photographs to match some old ones which it is planned to display at a Festival in St Nicolas’ soon. My unexpected abiding sense is how much more wooded our urban area is than it was a hundred years ago; in an old picture from this spot the whole church and the house to its west are clearly visible, and something similar is true in a number of other places (including the photographs of the view from the Chapman memorial at St Michael's posted here earlier this year).