Interview with Wayne Dixon

Posted on January 14, 2009 by Amy Tolmie

Wayne Dixon is what you would call a veteran schools worker and all round great guy. Back in October last year I asked Wayne a few questions about how he got into doing work in schools and what's most important to him. Here's what he had to say...

1. What was your route into Schoolswork?

You start schools work from the day you become a Christian and are in school and this applies across the board – in the home, office, college, factory, leisure and social activity. If you are a christian you are a Christian worker in those areas. My first step on my schools journey was when I did an assembly whilst I was in the 6th form to fellow 6th formers which helped start our Christian group at Tom Hood School in Leytonstone East London. Then in 1986 a lass at Church, Heather, asked me to do an assembly in her school, Slough Grammar, to help start a Christian group. It must have gone ok as I was invited back and two other schools got in touch (Windsor Girls' & Langley Grammar). I was running out of holiday!!. But my boss allowed me to do assembly and start work at 10.00am so not to lose all my holiday for a 10 minute assembly. Then I talked with my minister, Keith, met with church leadership, prayed and it developed from there. I was a volunteer on a Scripture Union holiday so wrote to them – they called me for interview in May 1988 and I started September 1988 for Scripture Union in Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead, and I'm still here! So, an interesting journey for me and not one I thought I was expecting to be on, which is great!

2. Who have been your role models?

For me the real role models and the heroes as far as schools workers are concerned are those who are there everyday – they are the pupils, teachers and other christian staff so for me it's people like Anita, Rachel, a lad I met yesterday at Cox Green school and many others who encourage, inspire and move me. My role – indeed our role is to encourage and support these guys. This has been one of the main lessons I have learned in my 20 years with Scripture Union. Some other lessons: schools work is about relationships – flexibility and some more. The most SIGNIFICANT contribution we can make to our schools is to PRAY for them. I'm finding what I call 'delayed reaction' from schools work years ago, where I find myself bumping into previous pupils who share something of the impact my input had on them.

3. Tell us something about the work you do in schools.

My work in schools combines what I call 'Hanging Around Ministry' which has evolved and happened by accident. It's now just a key and essential part of schools work in getting to know a little of where young people are at and listening to them on their turf and chatting about things they want to talk to about. For example in school recently I did 2 assemblies in 2 different schools for many students – but the most significant thing that happened that day was the informal chat I had with Julia (Christian lass who has just left Slough Grammar) after the second assembly who had popped back and we bumped into each other in reception. Then the other part of my role is taking assemblies, RE & PSHE sessions, 'Examattack' for year 11 students (see for more on this). 'HAM' develops into things like Speech Days – Sports Days – School Productions and Leavers Proms. The most SIGNIFICANT conversations I have had in school about God have been via 'HAM' and with both pupils and increasingly staff and have happened at these occasions - including a recent year 13 leavers prom!

4. What do you see are the biggest pressures young people face in school today?

Biggest pressures I see are twofold: Exam pressures – that's where 'Examattack' came from and that was back in 1991 and family pressures / breakdown and the like. Then other key ones like relationships – peer pressure – self image and the like. The biggest hurdle I think is apathy or what I call 'I'm alright – who needs Jesus?'

5. Why is it important for Christians to be in schools?

Because that's where non Christians are. They are not (generally) in our churches. 100 years ago or so 56% of children / young people were in our churches. Today it's 4%. We must not neglect the 4% as mentioned above - they are KEY players and we need to / want to support such folk in whatever way we can, for example with Christian Groups – see for this and things like Schools Pray Day and Education Sunday.

However, generally speaking our children / young people aren't coming to our churches but 99% of them are in school. We do well to be there and to encourage others to be there serving in a variety of ways. My hope – prayer – role is that by being in school and being myself I can share something of Jesus that will connect with some of this 96% and my feedback – gut reaction is that this is welcomed. I'm just an ordinary guy who is a Christian and I want to dispel some of the misconceptions young people have about Jesus and Christianity so at least they will give Jesus a thought. I thank God that schools have been welcoming and allowed me and others in to do just this.

The most SIGNIFICANT thing I've been involved with has been the Christmas & Easter story not just because of what has happened in one local church but because of what has started and is continuing in numerous other areas. It has not only given thousands the opportunity to visit a church – possibly for the very first time, but also to have a positive experience / impression of a church and learn something of what I call the most celebrated event in history (Christmas) and the most significant event in history (Easter). See here for more. I'll leave you with a few things that have come out of this event over the years [Christmas update]: in just the last month there were events held in 25 areas, (Glasgow to Gravesend - Altricham to Woodley), with over 200 presentations to over 11,000 pupils - that I'm aware of and it continues to develop in other areas. Here's part of a conversation I had with one lad who had been along to the events we had done years ago: "I remember a lot of the things you mentioned. The mince pie making I remember was quite fun although I was too afraid to eat them, as I didn't think I would like them. I also remember there was a quiz or some sort of finding the clues trail around the church, which led to a word at the end. I think that was Easter. Oddly, the things I remember most though were the passages from the bible and you telling us the stories from them. I'm not sure why but I remember them quite clearly, you told the story of Jesus birth ...and although everyone knows the story, it was told in another way. At Easter as well, I remember you telling us the story of his resurrection. It's weird why I remember those bits though and not the activities as much. Oh well"

Wayne Dixon
October 2008