What does it mean to be a 'Church of England school'?
A Church of England school is, like community schools, funded through the Local Authority, but the buildings are owned by the Diocese. A majority of the governing body posts are 'Foundation' governors, with a specific role to support the Christian foundation and ethos of the school. Church schools undergo SIAMS (Church-run) inspections as well as government OFSTED inspections. Church schools may set their own admission criteria - St. Paul's CofE VC Junior School admission policy is to welcome all pupils regardless of religious belief.
In the everyday running of the school, there is little difference between a Church school and a community school. However the ethos of a school can be strongly influenced by its Christian foundation. While recognising that the pupils and staff are of all faiths and none, the school as a whole holds an act of 'collective' worship every day. The love and care for each other which is at the heart of the Christian faith is exemplified in the attitudes and relationships found and encouraged at St Paul's CofE VC Junior School.
The Archbishop of Canterbury explains:
“A Christian school is one in which the atmosphere has that kind of openness about it, that sense that people are worth spending time with, that people need time to grow, need loving attention. The Christian Gospel says that every person has a unique task to do, with God, and for God, whether they know it or not. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone involved has to share the same theology or philosophy. It doesn’t mean that everyone knows that they have this relationship with God, and is consciously working at it. But a Christian school is one in which the entire atmosphere is pervaded by a conviction that there is something mysterious, and potentially wonderful, in everybody.”
The ethos of the school is summed up in our Mission Statement:
~St Paul’s aims to serve its community by providing an education of the highest quality within the context of the Christian belief and practice. It encourages an understanding of the meaning of faith, and promotes Christian values through the experience it offers pupils.
~Our aim is to create a happy, stimulating learning environment, where each individual is encouraged to achieve the highest standards.
~We aim to achieve good attitudes to learning, family, friends and the community, and to develop respect, with the confidence to be successful in the modern world
St. Paul’s is a Church of England Voluntary Controlled Junior School in the Diocese of Bath and Wells.
The daily Act of Collective Worship is an important part of school life. It provides an opportunity for the whole school to meet together. While the Anglican Christian ethos of the School will be reflected in the daily Act of Collective Worship, the faith stance of the School members who are of other traditions, faith or of none, is respected.
The school closely follows the Somerset Agreed Syllabus Awareness, Mystery and Value.
To raise pupils awareness of themselves, of others and the world in which they live. This will include the idea that there may be something more to life and related to the sense of awe, wonder and mystery of us being made in God’s image.
To help pupils understand practices associated with worship, prayer, celebration and pilgrimage.
Pupils should develop a knowledge and understanding of different religious beliefs and commitments, the ways in which these are related to sacred writings and the teachings of key religious figures and how they apply to every day life.
We hope that all parents will want their children to participate in Collective Worship and Religious Education. However, parents have the right to withdraw their children from such activities, if they so wish.
Being a Church of England Voluntary Controlled School means of the sixteen School Governors, four are known as Foundation Governors. Foundation Governors represent the local churches and the Diocese.
The Rector is a regular visitor to the school and leads Collective Worship once a week. Other members of the local church help with the lunch time Christian club known as Voyagers. Special school services are held in the parish church to celebrate the main Christian festivals.
The school has close links with the Diocese of Bath and Wells. Advisers from the Diocesan Board of Education visit and keep abreast of the life of the school.