At the heart of the community, with community at heart
The Rt Revd Dr Dagmar Winter, Bishop of Huntingdon, was delighted to be invited to visit The Pathfinder Primary School in Northstowe last week during ‘Transition Day’, as the students prepared for the new school year, met their new teachers and moved up into their new classrooms.
The Pathfinder School opened in 2017 in the new town of Northstowe, with just 11 students, some of whom are in the current Year 6 cohort moving up to secondary school. The school is still growing, with over 400 children from pre-school to year 6, and the potential for over 600 students at full capacity. The Pathfinder School has long been a key part of the Northstowe community – providing not just education, but community facilities and helping shape the heart of this growing community.
The Pathfinder Award, voted for by staff and awarded to a Year 6 student each year, encapsulates all the schools’ values, with the recipient being a role model to be remembered in the schools’ history. Alongside this, a Values Champion Award is given to a student for each of the schools’ ten values, which include the values of Respect, Generosity, Trust, Spirituality, Nurture, and Success. Each class has a collective Achieve 100 award, that they choose and work towards as a team. The entire school community is actively supported by a small but powerful ‘Friends of Pathfinder Primary School’ group, who fund the Achieve 100 award, as well as other projects throughout the school.
The Pathfinder Church of England Primary School, a member of the Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust (DEMAT), has a culturally and religiously diverse studentship. A Church school’s Christian distinctiveness is part of the ethos of being a Church school. Even though the communities they serve may not all have a Christian focus, they are here to serve all our children, regardless of understanding and beliefs. The tradition of DEMAT schools retains a belief in Christianity, which is shown in Church schools through, love, care, compassion, trust, and respect. These and other values are fostered in school communities to form the basis for Church schools’ visions.
Their collective worship is truly inclusive to all, carefully worded to consider those of all religious and non-religious beliefs. Led by a group of students known as the ‘Worship Gang’, who work together with Revd Beth and Revd Stephen from the Pathfinder Church, to plan upcoming collective worship, as well as reflecting on the past week, what went well, and what could be improved.
Photo caption: Bishop Dagmar pictured here with Revd Beth Cope, Revd Stephen Dove, Headteacher Claire Eskelson and some members of the Worship Gang.
All the students are encouraged to ‘wonder’ about a big question each week, with an invitation to turn their wondering into prayer. The big question for this week, as the students were thinking about moving up to new classrooms and new schools, was “How do you cope well with change?”. Bishop Dagmar talked about a time in her life when she had a big change – when she became the Bishop of Huntingdon. Her transition to becoming a Bishop echoed with the children’s own experiences, as she explained that she moved house and needed a new uniform too! After the collective worship, Bishop Dagmar spent some time with the Year 6 students, being quizzed on the likes of her favourite bird (a Curlew), the favourite part of her job (meeting people, confirmation, and ordination services) and what her Bishops’ Staff is used for.
Bishop Dagmar said of her visit, “I was impressed by the quality of the welcome, the warm supportive atmosphere, and the confidence that Northstowe’s children displayed.”.
Claire Eskelson, Headteacher, said “It was a pleasure to welcome Bishop Dagmar to The Pathfinder School. The School and Church are such an integral part of the Northstowe community, and it is a privilege to be leading the school on the next part of its journey.”
An example of the inclusive collective worship at The Pathfinder School
(adapted from words published by Church Schools of Cambridge)
As we come together, we light this candle.
If you are Christian, you may think the light is like Jesus, shining out everywhere.
If you believe in God, you may think the light symbolises the presence of God in the world.
If you are not sure about your beliefs, the flickering light may make you wonder about the existence of a God.
If you don’t believe in God, the light may make you consider what meaning there is in the world.
Or the candle may have a particular meaning for you today.
A recent curriculum day combining Art and RE explored the school’s vision statement: "The roots to grow, the path to follow and the wings to fly", producing some thoughtful messages and wonderful artwork from the students, now on display in the school corridors.
Photo Caption: Artwork by students from The Pathfinder School on the theme of “The roots to grow, the path to follow and the wings to fly.”.
The school is also the home of the Pathfinder Church, who are part of the Church of England, living out a commitment to be a visible Christian presence in every community. The Church, like the school, focuses on inclusive ecumenical welcome, working closely with the other Christian traditions involved in the Churches Together in Cambridgeshire, whose commitment to exploring and sharing has found them partnering to help build community amongst those of all religious and non-religious beliefs. Working with groups including Northstowe Arts, Northstowe Running Festival, the Town Council, and Sustainable Northstowe, the Church partners widely for events at Christmas or Remembrance, supports the Friends group at Pathfinder School, as well as running clubs and activities in partnership with both the primary and secondary school.
Rooted in their place at the heart of the Northstowe community, the Pathfinder Churchalso love to partner with those of all religious and non-religious beliefs in joint community projects such as the Food Bank, Litter Picks, and a whole range of Youth activities together with Northstowe Youth Hive.The Pathfinder School is a community hub like no other, with a huge range of far-reaching activities, with opportunities for all members to get involved in something throughout the week.