From the Revd Dr John Caperon
Sir, - Your leader comment "Under a new head" (
10 May) rightly draws attention to the increasingly tenuous
nature of the old "dual system of county and voluntary schools".
What we are moving into, in effect, is a marketised pattern of
education, in which numerous providers of differentiated education
services compete for market share.
The Church of England as a national institution appears no
longer a major influence: the old world of the 1944 settlement is
past, and the downgrading of RE - despite the urgent and obvious
public need for improved religious literacy - is symptomatic.
In this context, there is an urgent need for the Church to
reassert its historic mission to provide through all its schools a
distinctive and coherent Christian education, rooted in a clear
spiritual vision, and dedicated to the holistic flourishing of each
person in community.
My recent research into chaplaincy in church schools indicates
that the ministry of chaplains is a key element in the provision of
such an education: chaplains are seen by pupils as generous
providers of pastoral care, authentic practitioners of Christian
faith, and spiritual leaders able to offer support and guidance to
those both within and beyond the communities of faith.
In the church school, chaplains are able to build the spiritual
capital of those in their care, offering resources for spiritual
living. They are key agents of the religious socialisation of the
young, inviting engagement with the content and practices of faith.
As liturgical leaders, they enable a new generation to link with
"the chain of memory" which is the ongoing Christian tradition.
There is no ministry of the Church to the young which is more
significant than theirs. The current educational situation makes
the development and support of chaplaincy in our church schools an
even more vital priority.
Former Director of the Bloxham Project
East Sussex TN6 1YE