The Vision for Education within a Church of England Academy
At St Edward’s we believe with conviction that Christian education is education about something and which emerges from something. It is not a general principle or a method. At the heart of Christian education is content. Fundamental to the Church’s teaching on education, and therefore upon the role of the school must be the theology of revelation.
On the Day of Ascension, the disciples are commanded to teach all that Jesus taught. In this commission the Church is given both the matter to teach and the command to teach it. The content of the revelation is a person, Christ himself. This is God’s self-revelation – a free gift. The presentation of the Christian faith ‘must always be in the nature of a gift: however warmly and insistently offered, it cannot be imposed.’ The transmission of Divine Revelation provides the model for the Church’s understanding of Education and provides the inspiration for St Edward’s practical application of such a model. Education like Revelation is personal encounter. It relies upon human work, but ultimately upon God’s grace. It is the transmission of information, but much more it is the sharing in the mystery of the Divine Life. More than anything, it is Christ.
The “deeply Christian” foundation of the Church’s vision for education and St Edward’s practical application of it can be witnessed in teaching and learning both in RE and across the curriculum, in authentically Christian worship, the school’s RESPECT agenda and in the relationships it seeks to form and fashion. Within John 10:10 (“Life in all its fullness”) we find a gateway to human flourishing which provides a basis for all within our community to grow and learn in a happy, healthy a holy environment. The gospel provides the basis of our school’s participation in the wider educational vison of the Church celebrated in the recent Church document.
- Vision for Education – Deeply Christian, Serving the Common Good
The Church’s educational vision seeks to embrace the “spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, moral and social development” of children and young people. The four basic elements of the Church’s vision for education (wisdom, hope, community and dignity) we believe are evidenced in the witness, welfare and welcome experienced by all within the Academy of St Edward’s. These elements are celebrated in our Academy and are expounded for the common good of the whole human community and its environment.
The fuller educational vision relates and aligns to the Anglican Communion’s “5 marks of mission” which are:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
These present all within our school community with the realisation of the truth that God is concerned with everything he has made, and particularly to the wisdom, truth and knowledge which should mark the raising of the young and which shape their futures and their families and communities. As a result, every person in our community is somehow related to Jesus Christ, and his word therefore can be applied to all. This includes education, one of society’s greatest contributions to the common good.
This context helps us distinguish clearly an aspect of the Christian School in the contemporary cultural context. Education is encounter – education is life. The truth of faith does not remain some kind of arid theory: it must be lived. The most recent Church documents emphasise the importance in Christian education of achieving a synthesis of faith and culture. This recognises that members of the Church often no longer live in a culture that is Christian, but predominantly secular: faith and life, faith and culture are not the concentric circles which they once were.
Christian education is concerned with the formation of the whole person. Thus Education ultimately leads to heaven. A school is not a simply utilitarian agency, providing students who are appropriately educated for the job market. ‘Education is not given for the purpose of gaining power’ and knowledge ‘is not to be considered as a means of material prosperity and success’. ‘Immediate efficiency’ is not to be a measure of the success of the Christian school, because it is helping build ‘a new world – one which is freed from a hedonistic mentality and from the efficiency syndrome of the modern consumer society.’ This is the classical understanding of education. What is distinctive about the Church’s teaching is that this is now applied not to education for an elite, but to education for all.
We are confident that our vision of education for ‘fullness of life’ is one that fully deserves its place in twenty-first century Britain. It is a special strength that it achieves educational excellence in a broad framework within which pupils and teachers can pursue the big questions of meaning such as ‘Who am I?’, ‘Why am I here?’, ‘What do I desire?’ and ‘How then shall I live?’ (p.5). This approach is timely, given both the educational changes and diversity of our country at the moment. “We see the present time as a time of opportunity that is unlikely to recur in our lifetimes. There are unprecedented opportunities to renew, improve and interrelate existing schools and to found new ones” (p.6).
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16