Pupils from twelve local Church of England schools packed into Bradford Cathedral over two busy sessions to mark the end of their primary education, celebrating their successes and enjoying a mixture of music, presentations and the chance to reflect on the theme of ‘Looking Forward?’ during which Canon Mandy encouraged the children to share their hopes about the start of their secondary education and what they would like to achieve when they’re older.
Leavers’ services take place across the ‘Diocese of Leeds’ with similar services held this year at Ripon and Wakefield Cathedrals, and Leeds and Dewsbury Minsters.
The services were led by the Revd. Canon Mandy Coutts, who talked on the theme of ‘Looking Forward?’, and how it was both a time of happiness but also anticipation for the future, and how the children could take what they’ve learnt to be inspired to go on to do extraordinary things. The service also included hymns and music, which the schools had prepared for, including learning some of the actions that were demonstrated by the Zephaniah Trust. Several of the schools also contributed to the service by writing some of the prayers and performing a dramatic reading of a Bible passage up on the stage, complete with props.
Each school also brought forward an offering, which this year was a Rainbow of Promises, based on the pupils’ thinking about how they can make a difference in the world by being who they are and what they would like to be remembered for. Director of Education and Visitors, Maggie Myers, said of this:
“Our twelve schools produced really different interpretations of this idea. For example, one did a banner and some offered transparent baubles with their promises written inside. One made a pyramid out of which unfolded photos of the children. Others did handprints in a rainbow of colours. The one thing they all had in common was how they showcased the creativity of the children and their optimism for the future. There was a lot of emphasis on helping the world, and working towards a better future and society.”
During the services the adults blew bubbles, which moved upwards and outwards into the body of the Cathedral. This was to symbolise the children’s transition into the next stage of their education whilst, like bubbles, being unique and extraordinary, travelling in different directions and possessing an individual beauty, capturing the light in their own way.
The service concluded with a hymn on the organ led by Bradford Cathedral Director of Music, Alex Berry, before each child was given a keyring by the Diocesan Education team as a memento of the day.
“The service is an important part of the leaving process for the children in our Church of England schools. It was a really joyful day, and we love having young people in the Cathedral, particularly as many may not go into a church very often. The idea of them being here and taking part in worship, both traditional and non-traditional, showed them how important they are in the life of the Church. This a key service in Bradford Cathedral’s calendar and we’re already planning and looking forward to the next one, to show the young people how valued they are by the Church.”
Diane Norton, Schools Adviser for Religious Education at the Diocese of Leeds, said:
“These services are clearly valued by schools and venues alike and I am sure form part of a memorable last few weeks of primary school for the children. A fitting way to mark the move to secondary school from a church school.”