Church schools are part of our heritage, it’s our privilege to nurture and support them.
But some organisations, such as the National Secular Society, say faith-based schools significantly limit choice. Pathways asked Robin Sharples, Principal Advisor for the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education to answer some of the most common questions about Church of England schools.
Are church schools intended for Christian children?
Just as the Gospel is for everyone so is the Church school. The foundation of a Church school, its Trust Deed, usually refers to it being for the ‘poor of the parish’ – a gift for those who have no other way of learning. Church schools were the original community schools. From their origins in the industrial revolution they blossomed into a movement which led to free schooling for all.
Why are church schools inspected twice?
Church schools are inspected by Ofsted and also by inspectors trained and appointed by the Church of England Education Office (CEEO). This is not a diocesan inspection; the inspectors follow the Schedule for the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS).
If a church school becomes an academy, does it stop being a church school?
A church school retains its character as a church school when it becomes an academy and is inspected under SIAMS. There are two Diocesan Academy Trusts and Oxford Diocese ensures that there is church representation within any trust which takes in a church school.
Church schools are out of date and irrelevant, aren’t they?
Evidence says otherwise. Many church schools are oversubscribed and are the school of choice for many parents. Their ethos and Christian vision create an environment where the fruit of the Spirit is visible, and which offers pupils both challenge and security.
There are 283 church schools in our diocese and education is a major part of our Common Vision strategy. Church schools enjoy support from the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education and benefit from resources published by the Church of England Education Office.
Why not get involved with your local school? Offering your time to read with the children, considering becoming a governor or getting involved with organisations like Open the Book or Reinspired can make a huge difference!