I saw a school not just IN a community, but a school LEADING a community. This community has its share of problems. At Alsop I saw only solutions.
Alastair Machray –Editor – Liverpool Echo
Occasionally Together for the Common Good partners on community projects to bring alive the principle of the common good in local contexts.
One of the most successful has been a partnership with schools in Liverpool, who are taking forward Common Good Thinking into their classrooms and school culture.
Led by Peter Bull, head of RE at Alsop High School, Walton, the key initiatives have been ‘HOPE 2016: working together for the Common Good’, a month-long programme in January 2016, followed by ‘FAITH 2017: working together for the Common Good’, a six month programme in 2017. Both aimed to encourage young people to take responsibility, build local pride and to promote the Common Good - fostering collaboration between local schools, community organisations, churches and faith groups. Both won awards.
We wanted to contribute to young people’s character formation, to engage them as they prepare for adult life and to encourage them to work together for the Common Good.
HOPE 2016 consisted of a strategic series of events, workshops, and local speakers, with hundreds of children and local people taking part. The impact on the local neighbourhood was evident, with local people commenting that it had a ‘positive ripple effect upon both the schools involved and the wider community.’ As a result, Alsop High School won the WOW Educate Award in the North West, “for their outstanding work to foster community cohesion and develop pride in the wider community of North Liverpool.” The initiative was also shortlisted for a TES Schools Community Impact Award.
Jenny Sinclair, Director of Together for the Common Good, who partnered with HOPE 2016 and FAITH 2017, said:
“We believe that a school rooted in its community can be a force for the common good: Alsop High have shown how this can work. In Hope 2016, we wanted to see schools, community and faith groups working together, focusing on ‘hope’ and generating a sense of local pride. It was moving to see the young people grow in confidence and talk about compassion in the classroom, and impressive to see them taking responsibility in their community.”
Building on the success of HOPE 2016, T4CG then developed a Common Good Schools toolkit which was used by local partners planning FAITH 2017. This larger scale initiative, which ran for six months, involved more schools - secondary and primary, as well as more community bodies, including Liverpool SACRE, the Archbishop of York Youth Trust, Liverpool Diocese, churches of different traditions, fellow faith communities and community groups.
The toolkit, indeed the whole approach, features the principles of Common Good Thinking, a set of values underpinning the whole initiative, which helps the school to understand its role as an ‘intermediate institution’, linking with other institutions in civil society - each having a vocational responsibility.
FAITH 2017 coordinated a range of community groups and brought young people into encounters, discussions, visits, events and activities held in local churches, other places of worship and community premises as well as schools. Young people’s leadership was fostered as they collaborated and worked together in social action projects and workshops, encouraged to be compassionate and responsible citizens.