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School chaplains in the state system

15 September 2010


From the Revd John Caperon

Sir, — In his review of Malcolm Torry’s Bridgebuilders: Workplace chaplaincy (a history) (Books, 10 September), Canon Paul Avis sug­gests that various kinds of chap­laincy — in hospitals, prisons, the armed services, schools, colleges, and universities — are at “the cut­ting edge of the Church’s mission”. Indeed they are, and it would be good if the whole Church took this on board.

What is surprising, though, is that Canon Avis highlights particu­larly “schools in the independent sector”. It might once have been true that school chaplaincy was large­ly confined to independent schools, but that is no longer true.

Chap­laincy is now becoming a central feature of both Church of England secondary schools and of the many academies sponsored by dioceses or by Church-related trusts.

School chaplaincy is increasingly recognised as central to the develop­ment of school ethos, is a required subject for report in SIAS inspec­tions, and represents for secondary-school pupils their most likely point of contact with the licensed minis­try of the Church. As one school chaplain recently remarked in an interview for the current Bloxham Project research study, in her home parish about a couple of dozen young people were in touch with the parish’s youth ministry, whereas each day she went to work among 1400.

This is without even considering various kinds of informal ministry exercised in their local schools — especially in the primary phase — by parish priests, NSMs, and others. School chaplaincy, both formal and informal, is a key ministry across the board in schools of all kinds.

The Bloxham Project
Ripon College
Oxford OX44 9EX

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