Chaplaincy provision is coordinated by the Lay Chaplain, Richard Nihill, who is a full-time member of staff, with significant contributions from other local Church of England clergy. They are in school every week; on days when they are leading collective worship and at other times. The York Schools Youth Trust (YoYo) also contribute to the work of Chaplaincy; helping with lunchtime clubs, taking collective worship and assisting at special services. Several other staff are committed to the success of the team. Other clergy, a variety of Christian denominations and lay people make individual contributions to the team.
Chaplaincy is part of the pastoral care of staff and students. The Lay Chaplain is also a member of the schools Senior Leadership Team. The school has its own Chapel and a Spiritual Garden. Students and staff are welcome to join in the services held during term time, or simply to withdraw to these spaces for a few minutes stillness and peace in the middle of a busy school day.
The work of the Chaplaincy team includes:
- Collective worship – particularly Chapel collective worship, to which the Chaplaincy team contribute significantly.
- Counselling and guidance – particularly through the regular lunchtime drop-in sessions in the Chapel. For students and staff, including those of all faiths and of none. Support may include bereavement counselling.
- Services – voluntary services in the school Chapel run monthly. These regularly include Holy Communion and sometimes non-Eucharistic services. As well as the Carol Service in York Minster, there are also Christmas and Easter services in school for all students. A voluntary staff communion service starts each term to which everyone is very welcome.
- Prayer – a staff prayer group meets weekly to pray for staff, students, the life of the school and the wider world.
- Confirmation classes – run as required for groups of students leading to confirmation at Heslington or the student’s “home” church.
- Charity work – including Harvest and other charity fundraising and support.
- RE support – including question and answer, visits to Heslington Church, and “taught” services in the Chapel as part of Religious Education lessons.
- Staff support – as required or requested.
- Wider links with Christian communities and organisations – locally, across the deanery and diocese, as well as with York Minster and nationally. Participating in the annual pilgrimage of the Archbishop of York to the Taize community in France.
- International links – encouraging and developing links with the Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa, with which York Diocese is twinned.
- Key Church School Values – following extensive consultation work the school has identified four key Christian values which we will seek to model, develop and encourage the whole school community to live out. These are: Forgiveness, Justice, Trust and Compassion.
Chaplaincy work is supported by Foundation Governors’ funding. An important part of the work of the team is to know and support those of all denominations and faiths in their commitment. The intention is for the team to be broad-based, ecumenical and non-proselytising, and to complement the work of the pastoral team by bringing an additional and distinctive dimension to the care and support of members of the school community.