What is a Church of England School?
The first large scale involvement of the Church of England in the education of children in the Christian faith came through the Sunday School Movement of the late 18th Century. Sunday schools had existed before, but the beginning of the movement is credited to Robert Raikes, a publisher and Anglican layman, who in the 1780s promoted the idea of providing education to working children. With children working in factories six days a week, the best available time was on Sundays, and within decades attending Sunday school had become a common aspect of childhood.
The Church of England became involved in weekday schooling with the building of 'National Schools' that educated children during the week as well as on Sundays. With no state system of education yet in place, it was in 1811 that “The National Society for Promoting Religious Education” was established under the leadership of Joshua Watson. The Society's vision was to open a church school in every parish. Schools were to offer education based on the teachings of the Church of England, with the belief that moral and spiritual education was as important to children as learning skills or a trade.
The Elementary Education Act of 1870 was the first of a number of acts of parliament passed between 1870 and 1893 to create compulsory education in England and Wales for children aged between five and 13. Around that time church schools became integrated into the education provided by the state and became known as maintained schools - they are funded by the state. All maintained schools including Church schools have to teach Religious Education and hold a daily act of worship.
In England today, 4,600 schools have a church foundation which represents 25% of all primary schools.
We, in Burton Leonard Primary School are part of the Ripon Episcopal area and Diocese of Leeds.
What is being added by being a Church of England school?
Church school have Christian beliefs and values at their heart. This means that every child and adult associated with the school is not just important because they are members of the school but because they are seen as unique individuals within God's creation.
Church schools recognise that as well as academic and emotional intelligence human beings also have spiritual intelligence. The spiritual aspects of life will be recognised, and nurtured alongside the academic and emotional needs of all.
Church schools are places where challenge through questioning is encouraged as through this we can make sense of the world, the gift of life and the purpose of our own personal lives.
The purpose of a Church of England school is to offer a spiritual dimension to the lives of young people, within the traditions of the Church of England, in an increasingly secular world.
What differences should you notice ?
As a pupil, parent, visitor or member of staff you should find that your church school is as good as any other good school but you should feel that the way the school works is different and distinctive. That distinctive difference will be rooted in Christian values that affect the way everyone is respected.
The Church for England’s vision for education is for the common good of the whole community:
“Educating for wisdom, knowledge and skills: enabling discipline, confidence and delight in seeking wisdom and knowledge, and developing talents in all areas of life.
Educating for hope and aspiration: enabling healing, repair and renewal, coping wisely when things go wrong, opening horizons and guiding people into ways of fulfilling them.
Educating for community and living well together: a core focus on relationships, participation in communities and the qualities of character that enable people to flourish together.
Educating for dignity and respect: the basic principle of respect for the value and preciousness of each person, treating each person as a unique individual of inherent worth.”
With this as a vision, Church schools are encouraged to:
- ensure that the school is led by a headteacher who is committed, with the help of staff, to establish and maintain the Christian character of the school in its day-to-day activities and in the curriculum
- engage meaningfully in a real act of Christian worship every day
- offer a school life that incorporates the values of the Christian faith
- ensure that religious education is given at least 5% of school time and that the character and quality of religious education are a particular concern of the headteacher and the governing body
- observe the major Christian festivals and in schools which other faiths are present ensure that those faiths are able and encouraged to mark their major festivals with integrity
- maintain and develop an active and affirming relationship with a parish church
“A Christian school is one in which the entire atmosphere is pervaded by the conviction that there is something mysterious, and potentially wonderful, in everybody”. Dr Rowan Williams Here at Burton Leonard, our school community is underpinned by our core Christian values: Love, Trust, Responsibility, Thankfulness, Friendship and Peace. These values run through our daily school life like the words run through a stick of seaside rock. Our values tell everybody what we consider important and what we stand for; they are values based on the Christian teaching in the Bible. Our values help us all - pupils and staff - steer our way through our daily challenges, make choices and decisions, and maintain good relationships in our school community. Our values are explored at school through collective worship, RE lessons, and in our everyday lives. The values steer us towards a strong moral code and compliment and reinforce our British Values. Our core Christian values support us in our goal to provide a setting where each child has the fullest opportunity to be the very best that they can be. Lesley Slater and Zita Branton Foundation Governors.
Quotes from the children
‘Faith is all about hope, believing that something good is going to happen, believing in God.’ ‘Faith is what you believe in, being committed.’ ‘Christians live anywhere and everywhere, they might wear different clothes and eat different things but they all believe in God and live their lives according to the Bible.’
Every day we have Collective Worship. This is an opportunity for us to worship together and to promote the Christian ethos and values of the school. We enjoy many visitors coming to lead Collective Worship too. Parents have the right to exclude their children from Religious Education and/or assemblies.