Being a Church of England Federation
“Learning as we grow. Growing as we learn. Rooted in Jesus.”
‘I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Those who remain in me,
and I in them,
will produce much fruit.
For apart from me you can do nothing.’
We are proud to be federated Church of England academies at the heart of the community of Whitchurch.
The Federation has a very strong inclusive ethos of care and respect developed around an explicit commitment to Christian values. We recognise that, although our Federation has a Christian foundation, some of our children come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including children from other faith communities. It is the Federation’s aim to provide for children an atmosphere, practice and education in which their spiritual life and experience will develop.
As Church of England academies, we hold Christian beliefs and values at our heart. We believe it is important to develop Christian values by which to live well together and which help to develop a moral and spiritual awareness.
Our core Christian value is Love. Across our Federation everyone is encouraged to love and respect themselves, others, God and his world. The Bible tells us that,
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16).
The value of ‘Love’ underpins everything we do in our Federation. We believe that through a focus on Love, by working together as part of a strong and supportive family, we can all achieve more.
“Love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:38
Each academy has identified several other Christian values to explore in more detail, through daily acts of worship and our curriculum.
The gifts of ‘Respect, Kindness, Honesty, Trust and Peace’ are the values we hope and aspire that our children will foster during their time at our infant academy.
As our children continue their learning journey through our junior academy, we focus on the additional values of ‘Courage, Responsibility, Creativity, Perseverance and Compassion’.
Whilst these gifts are inclusive of human values, we try to anchor them into the Christian faith by relating them to the Bible through stories and readings.
We are part of the Church of England and we include the church, and people who work with the church, in our Federation family. We visit the church regularly and involve people who work with the church in our worship.
What is a Church of England Academy?
Long before the government became involved in providing education for everyone in our country, the Church of England had a vision that it wanted every parish to have a school for the education of poor children. By 1900, there were 5,700 state-funded schools and 14,000 schools funded by the Church of England. Today, approximately a quarter of all primary schools have a Church of England foundation, through which they strive to provide the highest standard of education possible, in partnership with the state.
From the earliest days, the purpose of Church schools was to enable children to flourish by providing a basic education and by developing their moral character. It was always intended that Church schools should be open to all of the children of the parish. The schools are not ‘faith schools’ in the sense of presuming that children are practising Christians or attempting to make converts of them. However, the ethos of the schools is based on distinctively Christian values and they will offer children an experience of faith through collective worship and links with the parish church. Religious Education in Church schools will always include teaching about other faiths and they will usually follow the same syllabus for RE as non- Church schools. Since 2010, some Church schools have been converted into academies. This process entails a new way of managing the school apart from the Local Authority and makes no difference to the way in which the foundation ethos of the school is lived out on a day-to-day basis.
What is added by being Church of England academies?
Church schools and academies have Christian beliefs and values at their heart. This means that every child and adult associated with the academy is not just important because they are members of the academy but also because they are seen as unique individuals within God’s creation.
A Church school or academy might have a motto. Our motto, “Learning as we grow. Growing as we learn. Rooted in Jesus.” was created as a result of collaboration with all stakeholders. This statement is based on John 15:5;
'I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.'
Church schools and academies recognise that as well as academic and emotional intelligence human beings also have spiritual intelligence. The spiritual aspects of life will be recognised, and nurtured alongside the academic and emotional needs of all. Church of England schools and academies are places where questioning of belief and non-belief is encouraged as we all try to make sense of the world, the gift of life and the purpose of our own personal lives. Although we live in an increasingly secular society, the values of our country have their roots in the Christian faith. Church schools and academies continue to celebrate this as an aspect of the heritage which enables them to be successful places of learning for children of all faiths and none.
What differences should you notice?
As a pupil, parent, visitor or member of staff you should find your Church school or academy is as good as any other good school or academy but you should feel that the way in which the academy works is different and distinctive. That distinctive difference will be rooted in Christian values that affect the way everyone behaves and in the way everyone is respected. Around the academy, there will be signs and symbols which reflect the Christian heritage on which the academy is built. There may also be areas for reflection which contain academy prayers and prayers that the children have created themselves. Additionally, there will be a much greater emphasis on links with the local parish Church than would usually be the case in a non - Church school. However, none of the above should be taken as indicators that Christian beliefs are being enforced. They are ways in which Church academies encourage an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith and promote Christian values through the experience that they offer all pupils.
Church schools and academies are encouraged to:
· ensure that the school or academy is led by a Head or Principal who is committed, with the help of staff, to establish and maintain the Christian character of the school / academy in its day to day activities and in the curriculum
· engage meaningfully in a real act of Christian worship every day
· offer a school / academy life that incorporates the values of the Christian faith
· ensure that religious education is given at least 5% of teaching time and that the character and quality of religious education are a particular concern of the Head / Principal and the governing body
· observe the major Christian festivals and ensure that those of other faiths are able and encouraged to mark their major festivals with integrity
· maintain and develop an active and affirming relationship with a parish church
· proclaim that it is a Church of England school or academy on its external signboard and on its stationery and make appropriate use of Christian symbols inside and outside the school / academy.
This information is adapted from a leaflet available from Portsmouth and Winchester Diocesan Board of Education
It is a statutory requirement for all church schools and academies to hold a daily act of Collective Worship. This is a good opportunity for us to meet as a whole family and take time to think and reflect. Our Collective Worship may take a range of forms such as celebrating success, welcoming members of the clergy or sharing work with others. We focus on a different Christian Value each half term.