Message from Bishop Robert, 9 April 2024

Published: Tuesday April 9, 2024

Bishop RobertIt was over two decades ago that Lord Deering described our church schools as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Church of England. It is a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree and of which I am reminded at every opportunity I get to spend time in one of our 116 church schools in this diocese.

Our church schools are first of all church schools not, to be clear, faith schools. Our church schools, firmly rooted in Christian values, are places open to all. They serve children and families of many different backgrounds, from all faith traditions, as well as those who do not adhere to a faith tradition. They are open to all precisely because of our understanding as disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to know and share fullness of life. That they are open to all is part of what makes them ‘deeply Christian’ as places where all can be nurtured and the big questions of life, its purpose and our part within it can be asked. Without being places of proselytisation, they are places of invitation to explore and to take a wider, transcendent view of life.

At the heart of what makes a good church school will be a partnership lived out between the school and the local parish community in which it sits. Some of this will be structural, with members of the local church appointed as foundation governors with oversight, not of the day-to-day running of the school, which sits firmly with the head teacher and staff, but its strategic priorities and Christian ethos. Beyond this, there are so many other ways the partnerships will be lived out. Most visibly, clergy and lay leaders are often engaged in the offering of collective worship including of course the wonderful Open the Book. Less visibly but just as importantly local parishioners offer encouragement and support, for example hearing children read or helping with the care of a spiritual garden as well as supporting other school events. All this often comes together at special services for Education Sunday* at which the partnership of church and school is celebrated. It also really good practice if the local PCC has a standing item in its agenda for a report on its church school so it can be updated on what’s happening and know how it can best support.

For our parishes this is a big commitment but what a gift. The gift of connecting with our children and young people and their households. The gift of being offered an insight into the challenges they face and the joys of their lives, the gift indeed of service and nurture. A great gift and one not to be taken for granted. A gift supported and encouraged by the work of our Diocesan Education Team led by our new Diocesan Director of Education Jane Borgeaud.

My hope and prayer at the beginning of this new term might be that in each of our communities we might ask ourselves afresh how we might be a blessing to our schools, our Church and indeed our community schools, for in blessing them I know we will find ourselves blessed, as together we discover more of the life in its fullness Jesus Christ offers, the one in whose name we serve.





*Education Sunday is usually the second Sunday of September, but can (and often is) be moved to another more convenient date later in the school year.

One thought on “Message from Bishop Robert, 9 April 2024

  1. I really enjoyed your message Bishop Robert and totally agree with all you said. Thank you. I have been a foundation governor for 6 years. I feel very privilege and blessed working with my school. It is wonderful to see the children and staff flourish by following their Christian ethos. I pray that more Christians would explore whether being a governor, in a school, is their calling. Blessings.

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