John Fryer began working as Primary Concern in 1994, going to primary schools to do exciting and fun filled assemblies using puppets and telling Bible stories.
In 2001 The Church of the Martyrs brought the work under the church’s ‘wing’ and John now visits over 25 primary schools across the city and county.
Mr Scrappy (John’s main puppet friend) and his puppet pals have become part of the lives of thousands of children over the years and have brought Christian assemblies to where they ought to be – an exciting and ‘want to be there’ event in the school day.
But, also, from the schools' point of view they are always helping to reinforce teaching points (so Ofsted are usually impressed!).
We also host visits to The Martyrs church building for several school groups each year.
But does it work? Here’s what one head teacher wrote:
“It’s Monday morning and into assembly arrives John and suitcase. After thunderous applause, a sea of faces comes to light, noise of eager anticipation is heard with teachers shuffling. We allow it, because we know that Mr Scrappy and John have a message from God - one which we all like to hear and learn. The interaction is superb, the message clear and understood. The children enjoy it, even some staff! I wish I could do that with 400 children and I’m the Head!”
With the current legislation still requiring schools to provide a daily act of worship which is 'broadly Christian in nature’, opportunities for John to work in schools in this way are increasing, particularly as he makes sure that his assemblies fit in, where possible, with any theme the school are working to.
John recognises that he is there at the invitation of the school and that working in an educational environment means there are limits to what he can do. John’s assemblies always bring a teaching point and make sure that children recognise the spiritual dimension to life.
John always looks to visit on a regular basis so that he can develop relationships with staff and children - no hit and run visits! John regularly receives requests to visit schools where he hasn’t been before.
He is happy to do assemblies with all primary children from foundation to year 6.
'Primary schools are full of children who need to see and hear that God loves them and is relevant to their lives. It is never too early to tell them about Jesus and His love for them. Primary Concern is a resource which can, and does, make a difference'.