A chaplaincy program is an optional service introduced into Highfields State School to provide students, staff and parents with support which may have a religious and/or spiritual component.
Chaplaincy services provide an additional adult role model in schools. Whilst personally modelling and owning their own faith positions or belief, chaplains avoid any implications that any one religion, denomination or other set of beliefs is advantageous or superior to any other denomination, religion or belief.
Our chaplaincy program is compatible with policies and practices that apply to delivery of any service in a multi-faith and multicultural state school community. A chaplaincy program is inclusive of and shows respect for all religious and non-religious beliefs and other stances represented in the school community. All activities and events provided within a chaplaincy program are non-discriminatory and equitably available to students of all beliefs who choose to participate. Religious instruction is not part of a school's chaplaincy program and occurs only in accordance with legislation and departmental policy.
Local chaplaincy committee
Highfields State School chaplaincy runs under the guidance of the local chaplaincy committee (lcc), with representatives from parents and staff, local churches, and scripture union (the major employing authority for school chaplains in Queensland.) The local chaplaincy committee is charged with representing the diversity of religious, faith and non-religious beliefs in the school community. Members of the lcc understand the cultural and religious customs and needs of individuals and groups within the school and range of services and support currently available and/or required.
Chaplaincy at Highfields State School is funded through a combination of a federal government grant and through donation; from local churches, community organisations and individuals. School funds provided by the Queensland government for educational purposes are not used to support chaplaincy services.
Relationship of chaplaincy with other services and activities at Highfields
The chaplaincy service is one of a number of support services available to students and their families here at Highfields. Our chaplaincy program complements other services in the school such as those offered by the guidance officer and outside agencies. The chaplain is also available to address community organisations and local churches on the work of chaplaincy at Highfields State School.
Consent for chaplaincy services
Student participation in activities within the chaplaincy service is voluntary.
All parents or guardians at enrolment, and on request, are able to access a consent form for voluntary student participation in program of chaplaincy services which outlines:
The range of activities specifically with religious, spiritual and/or ethical content within the program of chaplaincy services provided at school
Allows parents to make an informed decision regarding their child's participation in the program of chaplaincy services
Enables parents to withdraw their agreement to, or consent, for their child's participation in chaplaincy services
In addition there is a form for ongoing parental/guardian consent for one on one meetings with the school chaplain at Highfields State School. This form needs to be completed by parents when ongoing regular support of an individual student is to occur. The chaplain may sometimes attend school camps and excursions as an adult supervisor and this is advertised to parents before camps/excursions begin.
Parents or carers are informed by letter, newsletter and website when new chaplaincy activities are introduced into the school.
Accessing chaplaincy services
Students are able to approach the chaplain directly to discuss any matters or issues which are occurring. In the case where ongoing support of a student appears likely, contact with parents will be made seeking permission for this to occur.
Teachers, amongst their conversations with students and/or their parents, are often made aware of situations or difficulties that the child and/or their family are experiencing. The teacher may refer the situation to the chaplain for consideration of the best range of measures to support the student/family involved. Often, it will simply be a single conversation with the student. But, there are times when ongoing regular support would be appropriate. At such times, the teacher will be provided with a 1 on 1 chaplaincy permission form for parents to sign, to initiate and establish this support.
Parents/guardians are welcome to request a meeting with the chaplain to discuss concerns related to their child or family. Stemming out of this conversation, one action may be to initiate ongoing 1 on 1 chaplaincy support for their child.
Special needs referral committee initiated
Amongst the suite of options available to the special needs referral committee in terms of supporting students within the school is chaplaincy support. When cases are discussed, chaplaincy support may be deemed an option in the case of particular students. In such cases, that option will then be discussed with the parents and a permission form sent home for them to sign.
Grievances about the operation of the chaplaincy services and/or chaplain are to be directed to the principal.
Chaplain Andrew Bell is available Monday, Thursday, Friday or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.