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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Groups currently active in schools

What follows is a by no means exhaustive list of evangelical groups currently active in schools in England and Wales. In addition to the groups identified below, many schools often have 'relationships' with local churches and individuals who visit schools to participate in school worship and assist with RE provision.

If you think any of this information needs updating, or would like to report a group, please use the forms below.

Youth for Christ

YFC was founded by the American evangelist Billy Graham during a visit to Britain in 1946. Today, the organisation employs over 400 full-time staff and countless local volunteers specialised in working with unchurched youth. YFC have 70 centres across England, Scotland and Wales, with outreach projects taking the 'good news' to young people.

Part of YFC's mission is to "raise up lifelong followers of Jesus". The group currently claims to be in touch with over 250,000 young people every month but says its vision is to reach a million young people a month.

Local centres work closely with schools delivering RE lessons, lunch clubs, and assemblies.

In association with Alpha International, YFC supplies RE resources to schools including 'ready-to-go' RE lesson plans, short films and even a residential experience.

It supplies schools with exploRE – a 12-week programme of study for use with students aged 11 to 14 in RE lessons, and it describes its RE:quest initiative as one of the largest online resources for teaching about Christianity for UK Schools.

It also provides materials "with clear biblical wisdom at its core, gently introducing young people to Christian ethics" through sport, IT, citizenship, PSHE and creative arts.

According to its website:

"Taking the Gospel relevantly is what we do. That has always been our vision, and it always will be…..until every young person in Britain has heard and responded to the good news of Jesus Christ."


OAC Ministries

OAC evangelists claim to have one of the most extensive schools' ministries in the United Kingdom. According to their website: "Biblical truth is communicated in relevant ways according to age by such means as sketch board, object lessons and puppet shows." They claim thousands of school children are spoken to each week during term time.

Their website states: "In an age when less people in this country are engaging with the Christian Church and its message than ever before OAC is committed to taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to unchurched people, wherever they are, through open air evangelism, schools work, and other outreaches".


Youth Apha

In addition to supplying 'educational resources' in conjunction with Youth for Christ, Alpha International also runs a Youth Alpha course in a number of state schools.

Based on the controversial adult Alpha courses, run in churches, universities and prisons, the course "gives 11–18 year olds the opportunity to explore how everyday life can be interwoven with the Christian faith". The course has been criticised for its narrow version of Christianity and its manipulative psychological techniques.


Counties / GSUS Live

Counties is a UK-based evangelical Christian charity that wants to see individuals experience "life in all its fullness through an encounter with the living Jesus Christ." The group is part of the Evangelical Alliance.

According to its website:

"Counties began in 1899 when some saw the desperate need for the counties of Britain to hear the good news of Jesus Christ... As society changed, so did methods. But the core task of communicating the Christian faith remains at the heart of all that Counties does."

The charity provides state secondary schools with GSUS Live — a resource designed to show the relevance of Jesus.

GSUS Live is provided to schools free of charge and is funded by individuals, churches and Christian trusts. Since it was launched in September 2000, more than 365,000 school children have visited the unit.

GSUS Live includes two mobile classrooms with a fully functioning multimedia computer suite designed to take classes of up to 32 Key Stage 3 pupils for a 45 to 60 minute lesson to "investigate Jesus' teachings on forgiveness, fear, and rejection."

The GSUS Live website includes endorsements from numerous schools and RE teachers.

The charity also runs LIFE, a multi-media mobile exhibition which focuses on the life of Jesus, primarily aimed atKey Stage 2 schoolchildren.


Prayer Spaces in Schools / 24/7 Prayer International

Prayer Spaces in Schools is an initiative of 24/7 Prayer, an organisation that exists "to reconcile the world to God in Jesus Christ."

Almost 600 prayer spaces have been set up in primary and secondary schools in the UK and the group provides a range of resources, including complete RE lesson plans. Its website includes enthusiastic endorsements from head teachers, RE teachers, school governors and pupils.

According to Prayer Spaces in Schools, its work helps to enable young people to meet many of the requirements for religious education in primary schools. 24/7's vision for the UK is to "establish a national project working with teachers to serve the national curriculum so that hundreds of thousands of students can swap talking about God in religious studies classes to talking to Him".

According to its website, the initiative has reached more than 100,000 children and young people, many of whom "have prayed personal prayers for the first time in their lives."

A video on the 24/7 Prayer International website proclaims that healings have taken place in prayer spaces – which can be anything from dedicated classrooms or areas of classrooms, to areas in school recreation and communal spaces such as cafeterias. An extract from the transcript of the video shows the presenter stating:

"We have seen organic healings take place in prayer spaces. We have seen an 8-year old girl healed of eczema, we've seen a guy get healed of a stomach condition, we've seen someone else get healed of Crohn's disease."

According to their 2020 Vision report, the global priority for 24/7 Prayer is Europe, which they consider to be "the darkest and most urgent mission field of our time."


Scripture Union

Scripture Union is an international mission movement that seeks to make "God's good news known to children". It describes its mission as "to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ among children".

The group's goal is to ensure "that all may come to a personal faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, grow in Christian maturity and become both committed church members". With the aim of "reaching the unreached with the gospel", Scripture Union says working in schools is one of its main priorities.

Scripture union provides an RE teaching resource called Into the Bible for Key Stage 2 and provides teachers with lesson plans, activity sheets, artwork and extension suggestions. The group also runs an RE day trip called Lifepath, which it describes as "educationally valid" and appropriate for pupils of all faiths or none. The promotional video exposes the initiative for the blatant proselytization that it is.

The group also plays an active role in setting up and running Christian groups in schools and provides schools with a number of resources for bible-based assemblies including a DVD resource presenting the gospel message in a sporting context.

Scripture Union run an Associate Scheme as a means of "multiplying their ministry". The scheme provides support for local churches and other Christian groups seeking to reach children and young people in schools.


Barnabas in Schools

Barnabas in Schools is an initiative of the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) – a group that describes its mission as to "enable people of all ages explore the Christian faith and to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ".

It provides a number of classroom and assembly resources for RE teachers including 'Barnabas RE days' – a full day's programme of exploring Christianity through storytelling and drama.

One of the 'RE Days' aimed at Key Stage 1 pupils includes a study of the Christian story of creation in Genesis with a focus on God as Father and Creator. Others explore "caring for others" and "compassion" as uniquely Christian concepts. Its website includes endorsements from a number of schools, including community schools as well as faith schools.


Christians in Schools Trust (CiST)

CiST is a Christian organisation established in 1996 to support primary schools in the Stockport area in the delivery of 'professional religious education'. The group describes its aims as seeking to promote excellence in RE and to "share the relevance of Jesus with young people".

The group visits schools to take "Christian assemblies" and provides resources for RE teachers nationwide. CiST advocates "teaching RE from a Christian perspective".

The group says it has:

"been in schools; running clubs, teaching RE from a Christian perspective and taking Christian assemblies, building relationships with staff and students.

"This model of schools work means that the worker remains a visitor, coming in from outside to influence the school for the Lord."

The group has identified school chaplaincy as a vital part of its plans to fulfil its aims in the future.


PSALMS

PSALMS is an associate of Scripture Union and has close links with Christians in Sport.

With an emphasis on sports ministry, the group reaches hundreds of children and young people in Gloucestershire by working with many of the local schools. Its activities in schools include mentoring, sports coaching, lunchtime/after-school sports clubs, drama, singing & performing arts clubs and workshops, 'Mission weeks', RE and PE Lessons and assemblies.

It also works to engage both churched and non-churched young people through a network of youth clubs which take place in schools and colleges.

The insidious nature of its approach, typical of the child evangelisation movement generally, is revealed in its most recent annual report, which stated:

"Work in local schools has continued. Mentoring at Maidenhill High School [non-religiously designated] involves five trained mentors delivering this resource and support to the school. This school is due to have a new Head of Religious Studies, who is a local Christian, and so PSALMS is looking forward to finding ways to build upon this."


Assembly Angels

Assembly Angels is a Christian organisation that offers primary school assemblies with "teachings grounded in biblical principles and advice". Its promotional video reveals the proselytizing nature of these assemblies.

The group also offers a "Moving On" workshop to "help children think through their move up to secondary school". Each child attending the workshop receives a copy of the book It's Your Move published by Scripture Union. The noble sounding intention behind this venture is undermined by a promotional video that reveals the book to be little more than a "gospel opportunity". As Tim Hastie-Smith, the National Director of Scripture Union explains:

"In my corner of rural Gloucestershire all the children in the 9 primary schools have received copies of It's You're Move. There's virtually no kids in church but every single child has received a copy of it from a Christian in their local [school]. Bridges are built, opportunities are created for sharing the love of God. And that's what 'It's Your Move' is. It's a bridge. It's a doorway. It's an opening. It's an opportunity."


Open the Book

Open the Book is a national organisation that sends teams of Christians from local churches into schools to perform dramatised Bible stories. According to the group, their 'storytellers' use drama, mime, props, costumes - deliberately involving the children and staff themselves - to present the interactive stories.

Their evangelical objectives are made clear on their website which quotes Psalm 78:4,6: "We will tell the next generation...and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God... "

Open the Book estimates that 254,500 primary children are regularly being visited by the group, primarily through school assemblies. According to its website, 8,429 volunteers are going into 1,473 schools.

A recent newsletter states: "more and more people are grasping the simplicity with which churches can extend and enjoy their ministry to every child in their locality – especially to the 'unchurched' and their families."

One of their trustees is the vice chairman of Scripture Union and a member of the General Synod's Board of Education.


Gideons International

Gideons International is an evangelical Christian organisation famous for leaving Bibles in hotel rooms. With the aim of encouraging children to "discover God in a personal way", the Gideons use school assemblies to present personal copies of the New Testament and Psalms to children in thousands of British schools every year. One parent contacting the NSS said her nine-year old son had been given a Gideon Bible at school and told it was the "most important book you will ever read – far more important that any science book".

One parent, complaining about the Gideons' visits to her son's school, and requesting a non religious speaker be invited to offer an alternative viewpoint was told this this would be "opening the floodgates".


Christians in Sport

Christians in Sport exists to "reach the world of sport for Christ". Its vision is to see a Christian in every one of the 150,000 clubs and teams in the UK. However, it also operates in schools. It offers a range of activities intended to "raise awareness of the value of sport but also of the values of the Christian faith."

The activities it offers, which include RE lessons, assemblies and sports workshops can be delivered in a one off visit, a one-day 'reflection day', or spread across the course of a 'mission week' within the school.


Christian Council For Schools In Wales (CCSW)

CCSW's vision is "To give every pupil in Wales an opportunity to explore the Christian Faith personally". According to its site: "each year, many thousands of young people and children across the nation have the opportunity to learn about and respond to the Christian Faith in their places of education."

CCSW makes hundreds of visits to schools – leading assemblies, taking lessons, running Sixth Form RE Conferences, and generally "building relationships". The organisation also supports and establishes Christian 'lunchtime' and 'after-school' groups in primaries and secondary schools.


York Schools & Youth Trust – Yoyo

The York Schools and Youth Trust seeks to communicate the Christian faith to the children and young people of York, particularly through work in schools. The group promotes the Christian faith through collective worship and RE and PSHE lessons. Their assemblies are basically religious services including Bible stories and Christian song. Stories are told using drama, puppets, poetry and music.

According to one parent contacting the NSS:

"Our daughter is only age 4, yet is fully converted into believing that the Christian god is the one true god, comes home singing songs about Jesus, and is uninterested in learning about other belief systems because of what she has been told by this group."


Luton Churches Education Trust (LCET)

LCET is an organisation established by Luton churches "to see Christ's message of hope and justice expressed to and among young people." The group delivers assemblies and RE lessons and provides schools with a range of material for the curriculum "to help foster spiritual development". The organisation also offers RE theme days for all year groups, from Year 7 to sixth form.

According to its website:

"We are interested in getting students engaged with the big questions of life, critically examining their own and others beliefs, and finding ways to express themselves spiritually."

In 2007, LCET launched schoolswork.co.uk, a project to support Christian work in schools across the UK. The project is also a member of Youthwork, a wider collaboration of Christian youth organisations in the UK.


Bury Christian Youth (BCY)

BCY is an organisation that upholds the Old and New Testament Scriptures as the "inspired, infallible, truthful Word of God".

BCY has inveigled itself into West Suffolk schools where the group regularly visits, taking Christian assemblies, PSHE and RE lessons, and running lunchtime clubs. The group aims to provide a "clear Christian input into RE and other areas of the school curriculum." The group runs a sex and relationships education workshop in schools which it uses to promote abstinence.


Christians and Sheffield Schools (CaSS)

CaSS exists to develop and maintain links between schools and churches and Christian organisations. The group employs a 'schools links adviser' (who also teaches RE to 4–11 year olds) to coordinate volunteer members drawn from several churches around Sheffield. It also provides support and assistance to volunteers carrying out activities in schools.


Christian Initiative in Calderdale Schools (CICS)

CICS is a fundamentalist Christian organisation based in Calderdale, West Yorkshire. It describes its objective as "the advancement of the Christian religion...amongst young people in Schools and Colleges in Calderdale".

It is welcomed in 10 local Secondary schools (including non-religious community schools) where it delivers assemblies and gives RE lessons on topics such as poverty and abortion. It is also involved in 'Faith Days' with Key Stages 4/5 and it supports lunchtime activities in eight secondary schools.

The group is supported (including financially) by over 50 local churches and has recently expanded taking on new staff and office space. According to its site:

"We know it will cost more in effort, time and finance, but we believe that we must help our 'young citizens' grow to maturity in Calderdale, knowing about God and knowing God."

The Family Trust - Kingsquads

The Family Trust (in primary schools in Maidstone, Medway and Swale) and it's offshoot Churches and Schools Together (in secondary schools in Maidstone) claim to deliver a new assembly to 170 schools every six weeks, as well as lunchtime and after-school clubs called Kingsquads.

From an article on the Evangelical Alliance website:

Around 800 children attend these every week in 40 different schools. Through the provision of prayer spaces, play, religious education lessons, Christian festivals and residential holidays, the FT sees around 34,000 children and many hundreds of school staff every six weeks during term time.

"Our approach is to facilitate faith development of children throughout their childhood into teenage years and beyond," says Tony Hillier, one of the original trustees. "Through initial contact with Family Trust assemblies that awaken their spiritual eyes we encourage them to attend Kingsquad at their school where they can explore the Christian faith. Our residential camps give great opportunities for children to become real disciples and start or develop their early walk of faith. Over the years, a great number have returned to camps in their mid-teens as leaders to encourage their younger peers to follow in their footsteps. As they serve we see their Christian faith being solidly rooted in their lives.

www.familytrust.org.uk/kingsquads


Who’s in your school?

Our research into the activities of evangelical groups in schools in ongoing. If you have information or concerns about external visitors in a particular school, we'd like to hear from you. Please use the form below to provide us with details.

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