Let all schools become good — and local

02 December 2009


From the Revd Richard Bentley

Sir, — Rather than commend ourselves in our defence of the “ethos” of church schools (Comment, 20 November) or fret about its “impact” (Letters 27 November), we need to demon­strate leadership in education on behalf of all children so that all schools can become good — and local.

It is not disloyal to the Church of England to challenge the existence of church schools. It is more faithful to our “ethos” to seek a more direct involvement in encouraging all schools, not just those with a church foundation, to become centres of excellence in education.

A direction as fundamental as this requires leadership to engage in the political process in order to bring about change. Of course, we still must care for the present generation of children, and it is important to embrace any opportunity available to us in directing whatever resources are immediately available.

Samworth Enterprise Academy in Leicester is an outstanding example of this approach, created by national and local resources, and, in this case, by clear episcopal leadership.

The new chairman of the Board of Education has affirmed that “Education is at the heart of the Church’s service to the nation.” The National Society (its website says) “was founded in 1811 with a vision to educate the largest possible number of young people from all backgrounds based on the Christian Gospel as understood by the Church of England.”

Is it not time now for the Church of England, in consultation with the Charity Commission, to reappraise the constitution of the Board and of the National Society, in order to find ways in which current and historic resources can be channelled, in partnership with central and local government, into the support and development of good community education for all children in our own time?

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