Church schools should teach children to look beyond possessions and appearance, says bishop

02 February 2018


The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, with young leaders at West Heslerton CE primary school, in June

The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, with young leaders at West Heslerton CE primary school, in June

CHILDREN should be taught in school to look beyond a culture of cosmetic surgery and designer labels, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, has urged.

Speaking on Thursday, Bishop Cottrell said that school leaders should help children to learn about the “fullness of life” rather than the “illusion” that happiness could be found in owning possessions, or in appearances.

He was speaking at a conference organised by the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership, which helps to develop head teachers and familiarises them in the C of E’s official vision for education.

In his keynote address, Bishop Cottrell said that a “church school will always be a place where knowledge of what it is to be human will be shaped by the conviction that we human beings are made in the image of God, and made for community with God”.

Church schools should also be places where it is known that “our hearts will always be restless until they find their rest in God, and that a Christian education is a whole lot more than learning a lot of stuff about God.”

A Christian education, the Bishop said, was the “absolute conviction and recognition that fullness of life requires us to nurture the spiritual — which is the beating heart of the living God in us; and it is the interplay of mind, body, and spirit that make for a complete education, and that to neglect the spiritual is to impoverish our humanity”.

The conference, which was addressed by the Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, was attended by more than 400 delegates, and was supported by the Allchurches Trust.

Bishop Cottrell said that “we dare to believe that God holds in his heart an image of what every human being is capable of becoming. An,d in opposition to the false gods of a world which persists in telling us that a certain designer-label pair of jeans, an expensive perfume, a fast car, or the latest cosmetic surgery can bring us happiness, asserts that God does want to change us, but not into someone else. That is the illusion the world peddles.”

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