The mental health of our kids and school.

The BBC has reported a significant rise in mental health issues for Britain’s school children. The problem has reached such endemic proportions that heads of schools are urging the government to improve CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and the response from government has been to increase funding by £1.4 billion.  This is a ludicrous and short sighted response.

It is obvious that the education system, with it’s systemic focus on improving academic results, is causing stress, anxiety, self harm and depression in our children. From government, through Ofsted, we are subjecting our children to a system in which they have no freedom find their own levels or manage their own stress.  They cannot choose to pass or to fail exams.  Failure has become such an anathema to the Ofsted regime that our children are now effectively forced to do well and this causes mental exhaustion and issues of self-loathing and low self-worth.  This lack of power and freedom is a modern form of slavery.  Everyone involved in education knows this pressure to perform well and it is mostly our children who are being sacrificed on the altar of academic success.

There needs to be a change in the philosophy of education.  Children need to be seen as uniquely gifted.  They are not all equally talented and so can’t expect to get the same results.  Education should be seen as the means by which our children develop and discern their gifts.  GCSEs should be understood as a broad spectrum education, which gives each child a chance to try everything.  This wide range of subjects allows them to discover what they are good at and what they enjoy.  A clutch of exam results from A to D at GCSE is necessary to give each child an indication of where they should specialise at A level.  Insisting that every child has the potential to get a string of As and A* is what does the mental and emotional damage.

Education should also focus on character, resilience and the moral framework.  Our children cannot grow up and take responsibility for themselves if they are forced to get grades in subjects for which they have no real desire to do well, because they have less talent for or interest in that academic area than others.

We must give our children space to choose.  They must be allowed to pass or fail.  They must not be told that failure is bad.  Failure is the way we learn to avoid it in the future. Self-worth and life beyond school does not depend on how well a child does at her German GCSE.

We must let our kids find their talents and use them for the good of others, perhaps even for the glory of the God who made them, with their unique set of gifts and abilities.  Then we won’t need to spend a fortune we don’t have fixing mental health problems which should not exist in the first place.

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Rend Collective – Lighthouse

I am most probably a bit behind the curve, but I have just discovered the Rend Collective, and I particularly enjoy this visually stunning rendition of “My Lighthouse.”

There’s a great testimony, about identity, rugby and how injury led, I guess eventually, to the the formation of Rend Collective, by lead singer, Chris Llewellyn, on Billy Graham’s “Second Chance” short film.

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The differences between legalism, antinomianism, neonomianism and the true gospel in four lines.

There are four ways which people confuse the law of God (nomos) and the gospel of God’s grace in Christ.  Here’s a way I find helpful of knowing the truth, which sets us free.

Legalism – the separation of the law of God from the character of God and the cross of Christ.
“I am saved by being good.  I know what being good is because the law of God tells me what is good.  Therefore, I focus on good works and ignore Christ.”

Antinomianism – the separation of the law of God from the character of God and the cross of Christ.
“I am saved by God through Jesus’ death on the cross and I don’t need to keep the law.  Therefore, I focus on worshipping Christ but don’t do good works.”

Neonomianism – the combination of the law of God with the character of God and the cross of Christ.
“I have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ AND I must do good works to show that my faith is alive.  Therefore, I think less about Christ than about my own good works and am not sure if I have ever done enough good works to show that I have saving faith.”

The true gospel – the combination and separation of the law of God with the character of God and the cross of Christ.
“I have been saved from the penalty of the law by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ FOR good works.  I cannot add anything to what Christ has done for me on the cross, therefore, I do not need to do good works to be saved.  However, I know that good works flow from my knowledge of Christ.  So I aim to think only about what Christ has done to save me, knowing that good works will flow from my relationship with him.”

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He who is mighty

This is a beautiful new song which cuts straight to the heart, of Christmas.

 

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O come, o come Emmanuel.

We used this Youtube version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel at our school end of term service to capture the lament of the people of Israel before the birth of Christ.  Beautiful.  Thank you AGC Church.

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Broken (an advent lament)

Our A&E groans like a gangrenous laugh,
satisfaction now far from both patients and staff.

An NHS ward makes up the next bed,
as suffering souls become targets instead.

Consultants are drawn by satisfaction and pay,
and the mind stretching challenge of curing Miss Hay.

Our nurses demob and chase agency stash,
a fraction of trouble for double the cash.

The budget expands with no where to turn,
As government cuts continue to burn.

The system is broken, the money is tight,
people are stressed, just turn off the light.

 

Our schools are no better, it has to be said,
results are what count if you want to stay Head.

The government calls for results to improve,
our children need grades if the country’s to move.

So Ofsted investigates every small crack,
and anyone lagging will soon face the sack.

The teachers are stressed and seek to implore,
our children to progress, just a few stages more.

Our children are pawns in political chess,
their results are required to keep voters impressed.

But the voters have children who need to see CAMHS,
They are under the pressure of endless exams.

So which will break first? The schools or the kids?
Something must change as our lives hit the skids.

 

Our debt grows each day by millions of pounds,
It’s 1.5 trillion and we’re still losing ground.

Our economy falters and refuses to grow,
we’re told to work harder with nothing to show.

The deficit shrinks, but not by enough,
and one more recession will finish it off.

The state will default or something much worse,
the banks will foreclose on our poor public purse.

Then what shall we do, with no money to pay,
for our schools and our hospitals on that very dark day?

 

Our law makers tinker with national policy,
unfettered by norms not matching their honesty.

The economy’s god, and has to be served,
adopt monetary law or face hardship deserved.

Competition is fierce and all must comply,
from banker to bin man to sly private eye.

And cameras stare into all open space,
There’s nowhere to hide from their all seeing gaze.

The state becomes nanny, policeman and judge,
with laws to control all those who won’t budge.

Dare anyone protest about all of this pain?
Any who differ face Twitter campaigns.

It’s an animal farm behind this ol’ barn door,
how did we drift into G. Orwells’ ’84?

 

Our housing costs spiral up out of control,
As landlords benefit from those on the dole.

The rich quickly swoon at the value of property,
as the gap in our wealth lands millions in poverty.

It’s location, location, location, they say,
undesirable places soon urban decay.

The rich separate and the poor must then cluster,
As the sad urban landscape loses its lustre.

The people who gather in middle class cliques,
have no real idea about life on our streets.

Grandparents swim in the wealth they have gained,
Whilst grandchildren muse about their future sustained.

 

The cool Western nations suppose order’s a given,
human nature, they say, is the root of true livin’.

We pity poor countries where corruption is rife,
we can’t fathom out their bent way of life.

“British values” are best and they need to be taught,
or the nations which move here will bring us to naught.

Society believes that we Brits know what’s best,
Rule of law and good justice will make you all blessed.

But to live by which laws? And who did create,
the sad way of life which now we all hate?

These laws did not grow, as if from the soil,
But we must live in Great Britain, in a way not to spoil.

 

The threat from abroad is now threat from within,
an evil idea gains a following thin.

But then in our streets, and across many lands,
this trickle of followers slowly expands.

Their message is clear, their methods intense,
submit to our way or lose your defence.

We rely on our spies and then on the Met,
as GCHQ trawls the vast internet.

But these systems are creaking, there’s barely a plan,
our intelligence systems are dependent on man.

Our confidence wanes as we wake from the dream,
this world is in melt down, or so it would seem.

 

The system is broken, and so then are we,
we collectively groan whilst longing to flee.

But to what shall we run and to where shall we go?
We can’t close Great Britain and move the whole show.

There’s one thing to alter, our god we must change.
Out with the targets and cold stock exchange.

We must usher in God, three persons in one,
Eternally loving, the bright morning Sun.

Creation gives value and true dignity,
To each human being, made by bless’d Trinity.

Our fall is complete, as we each went astray,
vast temples of Mammon trade on our Lord’s day.

What we desp’ratly need is a dose of real grace,
our sins washed away as to God we must face.

His laws they do bless and by wisdom he guides,
our burdens he carries, he heals our divides.

 

God refused to stay distant but came down instead,
to be born with his creatures in a poor cattle shed.

His words bring us life and his light he does shine,
in pits of our darkness, he says “you are mine.”

From the pain of the cross he calls “it is done!”
As God our great Father gave us his Son.

Christ’s life and his death were true sacrifice,
and he turns on it’s head, our fools’ paradise.

As our life finds meaning in the love of the Lord,
our reason for living now strikes a new chord.

God’s kingdom of love is a kingdom of peace,
our rest is then found and our battles will cease.

 

And so goals need to change from the bank to the Lord,
our desire is to please him, no longer to hoard.

The Lord is not stupid, he’s no crazy fool,
he let’s us chase others, till we go through his school.

His lessons are hard, his love can be tough,
we go our own way till we cry “that’s enough!”

“Have mercy on us, please turn the way back,
we were fools to chase targets, as one thing we lack.”

“We lack a real sense of what life is for,
the stress and the chaos shout, there has to be more!”

So when we will turn from the cruel god “economy”,
who drives us like slaves through lies of autonomy?

Let’s abandon this god, and his ways which bring strife,
and collectively turn to the God who brings life.

To lose our life now, in the King’s saving grace,
is to find our real self in the Lord’s resting place.

 

by Neil Robbie

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“A Crisis of Christianity?” That Express and Star article in full.

Yesterday I reported that I had spoken to a journalist about the Woolf Institute’s report on the death of Christian Britain.  Here’s a picture of the article, which you can read online a the Express and Star, “So are we facing a crisis of Christianity?”  It’s interesting to see the way some of what I said was re-worded and what was left out.  I didn’t quite say that “We don’t want to give credit to the people who have shaped our nation.” but I can see how “we are historically myopic and biased” was simplified.

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