Church of England launches website to help nurture good schools

The Church of England has launched a new web resource identifying the values it believes make faith schools a success.

The website identifies 15 core values for schools, including trust, forgiveness, service and “koinonia” - the Ancient Greek word for “fellowship”.

The project has been commissioned by the Church of England’s National Society to enable the Church's 5,000 as well as schools without formal church links to explore these themes with a view to making a school distinctively Christian, while remaining inclusive.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, speaks of what makes faith schools distinctive in an introductory video on the website.

“A Christian school is one in which the atmosphere has that kind of openness about it, that sense that people are worth spending time with, that people need time to grow, need loving attention. The Christian Gospel says that every person has a unique task to do, with God, and for God, whether they know it or not," he says.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean than everyone involved has to share the same theology or philosophy. It doesn’t mean that everyone knows that they have this relationship with God, and is consciously working at it. But 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.”

National Society Chair, Bishop John Saxbee, said the new website would help win over the hearts and minds of people sceptical about faith schools.

He was quoted by The Times as saying, “There’s a long term programme to develop our role in education. The website is a resource to help our ability to expand church schools more effectively.”

The Church of England currently runs 4,657 schools, but of these only 220 are secondary schools. The Government’s academies programme has helped increase this number by 100 in the last eight years but the Church is still hoping to set up more secondary schools.

The church paved the way to universal education by being the first to provide free education to the poor in the 19th century. Today there are around 6,900 faith schools, accounting for one third of state schools.

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