All Saints School…A church school
Each year, at an open evening for parents considering a church school education for their children, I ask the question. 'What is distinctive about a church school education?' It is a harder question to answer than one might think. Several of the qualities one might attribute to a church school would also be found hopefully in a non church school: ethical guidance, pastoral care, a strong sense of belonging to a community, the belief that every child matters, even collective worship and Bible stories…
But what is distinctive about a church school?
'A framework of Gospel values' is the best phrase I can find. It means that staff, governors parents and pupils are invited consciously to frame our school, the way in which we behave, learn, treat each other within a framework of values that follow the gospel imperatives of Jesus Christ. That is what should makes a church school distinctive.
So what are those gospel imperatives?
Look at the stories that Jesus tells. In them, the poor and marginalised take the places of honour at the banquet of the kingdom of heaven. In them the outsider is the one who can show us how to behave in anticipation of the kingdom. In them, the one who runs away, falls short, is welcomed home with forgiveness. The stories that Jesus tells and the life he lives give us the template for how to run our school. The example of those stories and of that live will have a decisive effect on, for example, our behaviour policy, our inclusion policy, our special needs policy, and on the whole atmosphere of the school. It is expected that all members of staff and governors should at the very least be committed to the way in which gospel values are lived and taught at All Saints School and hopefully also in their own lives.
So what is explicitly Christian about All Saints school?
Each school day contains an act of collective worship which is explicitly Christian in content. Assembly themes follow the teachings of Jesus, the times and seasons of the year, stories about heroes of the faith and major themes of the faith. Each assembly ends with a prayer and the Lord's Prayer is said by the whole school.
In each classroom there is a table for reflection. On it is a symbol of the Christian faith and a candle, presented to each class every year at a special church service to celebrate Candlemass. Every week, each class has 'circle time' a time of reflection when, gathered around the candle, the class reflects together on the week that is past.
At least twice every term, the whole school comes to All Saints church for a school Eucharist to celebrate a major festival of the church: Advent, Christmas, Candlemass, Easter, Pentecost and All Saints. In addition, the leavers service at the end of the Summer term is held in church.
Frequently, one of the clergy will either visit the school to lead a class, or a class will visit church to explore themes, symbols, stories or seasons of the church's year.
The Vicar is ex officio a member of the Governing Body and in that role also supports the head teacher and Chair of Governors in their roles.
So how does the Christian ethos affect admissions to the school?
In the admission criteria for All Saints school, the majority of the criteria are Christian in their requirements. Parents seeking a place for their children have to demonstrate that they are committed, practising members of All Saints Church and St Etheldreda Church For a more detailed understanding of the admissions requirements, please see the Admissions page.
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