One million pupils are freely educated in a Church of England school every day.
The Church of England’s purpose in its schools is providing a distinctive and effective education that reflects God’s love for humanity.
The Church of England is the largest provider of schools in England. There are over 4,600 Church of England primary schools and academies and more than 220 secondary schools and academies. Nearly one in five primary school children are educated in Church of England primary schools.
In Gloucester Diocese there are 117 Church of England Schools and academies, including one secondary co-sponsored Anglican/Roman Catholic Academy. As well as aided, controlled and foundation schools there are also affiliated community primary and secondary schools and a growing network of chaplaincies in higher and further education institutions. This represents over 30,000 children, young people and the adults who care for them, who come into weekly contact with the Department and the Diocese.
New Church of England Vision for Education
The Church of England’s bold and ambitious Vision for Education was published by The Church of England Education Office in July 2016 and is endorsed by members of the House of Bishops. This initial document focuses on schools – other work will follow relating more specifically to colleges and universities. The Church of England is the largest single provider of schools and academies in England and educates 1 million pupils in 4700 schools and there are plans to open another 125 schools in the next five years. This, more than ever, is an exciting time for education in the Church of England as it leads the way on new ways of working to serve a diverse society. This vision confirms the importance of the spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, moral and social development of children and the principles set out in this document will be at the heart of our work with schools and we are excited about the opportunities that it brings.
In the video below, Helen Matter, Schools adviser in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, introduces her method for communicating the Church of England’s Vision for Education.
Making a difference to all children
Who we are together: church schools at the heart of the Church’s mission to the nation
In an event hosted by Bishop Rachel, head teachers of church schools and parish clergy came together to explore ways in which church schools can take their place at the heart of mission in their parishes. This video, entitled Who we are together, was filmed by students and a teacher from All Saints Academy, Cheltenham. It shows how three primary schools and parish churches in vastly contrasting settings live out their vision to worship, serve and celebrate together.
The distinctive nature of Church of England schools in the Diocese of Gloucester
At the start of the nineteenth century in Britain, it was almost exclusively children from privileged and wealthy families who enjoyed the opportunity of a good education. In the belief that all children deserved the right to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills, the Church of England began to establish schools in as many of its parishes as possible. Today, some 200 years later, church schools are still providing education that is inclusive and open to all. Within the Diocese of Gloucester, we are proud of our 116 Church of England schools, many of which express the distinctive nature of the education that they provide in the following ethos statement:
“This church school aims to serve its community by providing education of the highest quality within the context of a Christian belief and practice. We encourage an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith and promote Christian values through the experience we offer all our pupils.”
The way ahead for Church of England schools
The Church of England sees its church schools “as being at the centre of its mission to the nation”. Every church school, therefore, will have the support of the clergy and foundation governors in their local parish who will work in partnership with the Headteacher and staff to develop and promote the school’s Christian foundation.
Without seeking to proselytize, Church of England schools will make no apology for offering a spiritual and moral basis for the education they provide and each school will have a distinctively Christian vision and a set of Christian values which inform and shape the curriculum, all school policy and practice, as well as the work of the leadership team.
In Church of England VC schools within this Diocese, the Local Agreed Syllabus for RE will be followed, supported by the Understanding Christianity resource. For VA schools, governors will decide the syllabus for RE. It is recommended that all schools adopt the locally agreed syllabus for RE.
Worship in a Church of England school follows the pattern of the Anglican church year. A variety of resources are available to support this and we hope that schools and parishes will work together to provide Collective Worship that is invitational, inspirational and inclusive.
Church of England schools will be subject to an inspection under Section 48 of the Education Act 2005. This process is known as SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools) and will judge the school’s effectiveness as a distinctively Anglican church school. SIAMS now takes place independently of the inspection carried out by Ofsted under Section 5/8 of the Education Act 2005 and is designed to support staff and governors in identifying areas for development, as well as to celebrate all that the school is seeking to offer its children in the context of a community underpinned by Christian values.