Christian Distinctiveness

Church schools in numbers

There are 4,632 Church of England schools and 200 church schools in Wales. Church schools are supported by their local Diocesan Board of Education.

  • Approximately 1 million children attend Church of England schools.
  • About 15 million people alive today went to a Church of England school.
  • quarter of all primary schools and 228 secondary schools are Church of England.
  • There are 1,535 Church of England academies with 254 Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) holding Church of England Articles. This makes the Church of England the biggest provider of academies in England.
  • Over 500 independent schools declare themselves to be Church of England in ethos.
  • Across the country, Church of England clergy dedicate a million hours every year to working with children and young people in schools, often providing holiday and after-school activities.
  • There are 22,500 Foundation Governors in Church schools recruited, trained and supported by dioceses.
  • Each diocese runs a Diocesan Board of Education supporting Church schools, which represents an annual investment of over £15 million.

What is a Church of England School?

Before the government became involved with providing education for everyone in England- there were church schools and other charitable schools. The majority of church schools were built in the 1800’s.

There were two requirements, the first to teach Christianity through “Religious Instruction” and the second to hold a regular act of worship.When the state became involved with providing mass education, church schools became integrated into the education provided by the state. All these schools are known as maintained schools – they are funded by the state. All maintained schools including the Church schools, have to teach Religious Education and hold a daily act of worship. So church schools work on the same basis as community schools.The purpose of a Church of England school is to offer a spiritual dimension to the lives of young people, within the traditions of the Church of England, in an increasingly secular world.25% of primary schools in England have a Church foundation.

What does being a Church School mean?

There are three distinct kinds of Church of England school: Evenwood is a voluntary controlled school (There are 1625 VC schools), which means that although the Church appoints its own governors, responsibility for the employment of staff as well as funding and repair of the building remains with the Academy. Religious Education follows an agreed syllabus and the worship of the school retains an Anglican ethos. There is also close links between Church and school; the vicar is a regular visitor at the school and takes regular worships and the school regularly uses the Church.

Church school have Christian beliefs and values at their heart. This means that every child and adult associated with the school is not just important because they are members of the school but because they are seen as unique individuals within God’s creation.Church schools 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 schools are places where challenge through questioning is encouraged as through this we can make sense of the world, the gift of life and the purpose of our own personal lives.The purpose of a Church of England school is to offer a spiritual dimension to the lives of young people, within the traditions of the Church of England, in an increasingly secular world.

What differences should you notice ?

As a pupil, parent, visitor or member of staff you should find that your church school is as good as any other good school but you should feel that the way the school works is different and distinctive. That distinctive difference will be rooted in Christian values that affect the way everyone is respected.An Opinion Research Survey in 2008 showed:-

  • 79% agree that church school help young people develop a sense of right and wrong
  • 75% think that church schools help young people grow into responsible members of society
  • 78% agree that church schools promote good behaviour and positive attitudes
  • 85% agree that church schools have a caring approach to students.

What else?Church schools are encouraged to:

  • ensure that the school is led by a headteacher who is committed, with the help of staff, to establish and maintain the Christian character of the school in its day to day activities and in the curriculum
  • engage meaningfully in a real act of Christian worship every day
  • offer a school life that incorporates the values of the Christian faith
  • ensure that religious education is given at least 5% of school time and that the character and quality of religious education are a particular concern of the headteacher and the governing body
  • observe the major Christian festivals and in schools which other faiths are present ensure that those faiths are able and encouraged to mark their major festivals with integrity
  • maintain and develop an active and affirming relationship with a parish church

This information is adapted from a leaflet available from Portsmouth and Winchester Diocesan Board of Education.