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Build From The Bottom Up: Good Foundations Or Poor Foundations?

Encourages students to put in place good plans for the coming school year (SEAL theme 3: Motivation).

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage students to put in place good plans for the coming school year (SEAL theme 3: Motivation).

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two readers.


  1. Leader So, here we are at the start of another school year – all those opportunities and challenges stretching out ahead of us. The start doesn’t last very long – it’s almost over already – but it’s a significant part of the school year and it can’t be regained once it’s gone.

  2. Jesus told a story all about getting the start right. It was a bit like Bob the Builder. You see, there were two men who each set out to build a house.

    Reader 1 One man saw a beautiful site to build a house near the river. The soil was very soft, easy to dig. He thought he’d get the job done with the minimum of effort. The foundations were laid in a day, the walls shot up and he was soon relaxing in his house.

    Reader 2 A second man thought more carefully and found a location a little higher up the hillside. It was hard work laying the foundations because the ground was very rocky. Sometimes the man looked over at his friend and envied the speed at which he was building, but, in time, he was settled in, too.

    Leader Then winter arrived.

    Reader 1 The rain poured down on the first new house. The river rose and flooded its banks. The floodwater washed away the soft ground, undermined the foundations of the first house and the walls collapsed. It was a disaster.

    Reader 2 The same rain fell on the second house. The same river flooded, but the water did not reach the house as it was higher up the hill. Even the torrential rain didn’t affect the foundations as they were firmly embedded in the rock.

  3. Leader Through this story, Jesus was saying that the plans we make, the principles that form the foundations of our plans and the actions we take first, before we act, are vitally important. He was talking, too, about living life based on his teaching as being a good foundation to build on. These concepts apply to whatever we might attempt in life. Let’s look at how they might apply to us as we start this new school year.

    Reader 1 This year’s going to be a breeze. I should sail through it without much effort. I’ll take things as they come, do the minimum required to pass and get on with enjoying life. Last-minute revision’s always worked for me in the past. I can count on my friends to help me blag my way through when homework’s due. Why waste effort when there are so many other activities I want to do?

    Reader 2 The pressure always gets greater as I move up the school from year to year. I’ve got to plan carefully so I make the most of my opportunities. There needs to be a balance between work and social activities. It’s important I get plenty of time for sport because that’s enjoyable and keeps me healthy. I’ll also keep a check on what I eat – not go on a diet, but eat plenty of healthy food. I need to make sure I get a good night’s sleep, too, especially from Sunday night to Thursday night. If I plan this right, it could be both an enjoyable and a successful year.

  4. Leader I believe it’s all about foundational attitudes, about taking seriously the plans that you put in place now. If you get those plans right at the start, then, when the pressure’s on because of a deadline or exams, you’ll be well in control. Pressure is always unpleasant, but you’ll be more able to cope with it if you’ve built the foundations well than if you simply take everything as it comes.

Time for reflection

Leader So, this is the time to do some building. It may take a little while to think through and put your plans into action, but you’ll be very grateful you’ve done it when the ‘winter’ arrives.



Dear Lord,
Thank you for new beginnings, new challenges, new opportunities.
May I carefully plan for this next school year so I can cope when the pressure arrives.


Bob the Builder theme tune by Paul Joyce
‘Morning has broken’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 510, 2008 edition)

Publication date: September 2013   (Vol.15 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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