Appendix B to consultant's report on Church Schools Company college proposed for Lambeth, London
Statement by Church Schools Company about what is meant by Christian ethos
1. The Christian faith acknowledges the value and uniqueness of every human being regardless of gender, age, ethnic origin, creed or sexual orientation. It teaches the importance of love, respect, forgiveness and the need to work for peace and justice. We believe that true education must encourage the mental, physical and spiritual development of each pupil. Whilst the Christian faith is the majority faith with historical roots in Britain, we also acknowledge that we are a multi-faith society and honour those of others faith traditions and welcome the contribution that they bring to our schools.
2. The Christian ethos of all our schools is a core principle underpinning and permeating all that each school seeks to undertake and achieve. The objects of the Charitable Trust call for a liberal practical and general education and set out clearly the place given to the teachings of Christianity principally as are found in the Church of England but sensitive also to the teachings, attitudes and practices of other Christian denominations. This has been interpreted over a long period as being of a mainstream nature and tolerant. It does not embrace extreme views and does not set out to evangelise: it is much more an expression of service to the local community.
3. The interpretation of this underpinning principle within an Academy and its community requires sensitivity, respect and tolerance, all of which are important Christian characteristics upheld by the Trust. The aim for the Academy is that it will be a place of learning with a clear spiritual and moral dimension. Whilst the Christian faith will be the starting point and the central focus for the ethos of the Trust and the Academy, the beliefs and practices of other faiths will be valued and respected. It is hoped that parents and pupils of all faiths and none will find the Academy a welcoming community in which the importance of faith itself is emphasised.
4. The leadership of the Christian ethos of the Academy will require that the Head, key members of the teaching staff and local governors are able openly to support the Christian ethos of the Academy. Of importance also will be the requirement that governors and key leaders within the school subscribe to the importance of faith itself and recognise and value the contribution that all religions can make to the development of young people's spiritual and moral education.
5. With respect to the employment of the Head, it is expected that the successful candidate for Headship, in order to lead an Academy with a clear Christian ethos, will be able to demonstrate their ability to do so and their sympathy with it. There will need to be a genuine desire to do so in a way which is thoughtful, creative and sensitive. While the Head is likely to be inspired by a personal Christian faith and is equally likely to be a communicating member of the CofE or another mainstream branch of the Christian church, this will not be mandatory.
The expression of the Christian ethos within the school must be both explicit and implicit. The Head of the Academy will, for example, ensure that
a. All pupils (subject to the right of parents to withdraw their child) will participate in a daily act of collective worship wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. The teachings of the Bible and other Christian texts including hymns and prayers will be central to the acts of collective worship.
b. The Head, other members of the leadership team and the Head of RE take a direct role in the positive promotion, design and delivery of acts of collective worship.
c. RE is taught throughout the Academy to all pupils (subject to the right of parents to withdraw their child). The curriculum model followed by the Academy will give priority to the teachings of Christianity but will, as well as teaching the facts about the other principal world religions, treat other faiths with respect. It is likely that other faith leaders will be invited to participate in assemblies, especially on days when they celebrate their own important festivals.
d. The Academy participates actively in the work of the SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education) in the authority. Whilst the Academy may decide to adopt a different syllabus from that set down as the Agreed Syllabus for the authority, it is expected that there would be substantial areas in common between the two.
e. The principal festivals of the Christian year (e.g. Christmas, Easter) and other major events in the school year (e.g. the start of the school year, the opening of a major new building) are marked by an appropriate act of collective worship.
f. Pupils, staff and parents have appropriate voluntary access to a Christian priest or minister if and when that is required. This provision may mean that the school employs a chaplain; on the other hand, it may mean that the school develops links with a neighbouring church or churches, or just has contact with an ordained person. The need for such access may be particularly important at times of personal, community or national celebration or crisis.
g. We will endeavour to provide appropriate spiritual care to those of other faith traditions and to provide separate worship facilities if required.
h. There is space in the Academy set aside for spiritual reflection and quiet contemplation. It may be that this space is designed as a multi-faith area; on the other hand it may be appropriate to have more than one facility for example, a Chapel and a prayer/quiet room.
i. Pupils are encouraged to support local charities and community projects with their time, talent and contributions.
j. Where pupils and parents desire, support may be given to the activity of such organisations as a Christian Union or similar, providing they do not upset the tolerant balance of the ethos of the Academy.
6. The implicit expression of an underpinning Christian ethos requires the commitment of all members of the Academy's community and particularly of those, namely teachers, whose position is such that they have influence over the development of beliefs, values, a moral code and conduct of pupils. The characteristics of the Christian ethos, values such as truthfulness, honesty, generosity, selflessness, loyalty, etc., will find expression in the life of the school. In particular, it is expected that such values will underpin the aims, objectives, shared values, policies, rules, codes of conduct, rewards and sanctions of the Academy.
7. It is recognised, understood and welcomed that teachers will come to the Academy with a variety of faiths, beliefs and backgrounds. Against this background, however, teachers will be required to agree, as part of their contract, to uphold and promote the Christian ethos of the school.