Church schools are different not because they are exclusive but because they are distinctive. But just what constitutes this distinctiveness? It is more than a matter of ‘caring and sharing’.
This timely book seeks to help all concerned with education in church schools to explore this question. John Cox, a recently retired Diocesan Director of Education, suggests that even Christian values are not enough – it is the beliefs that underpin these values that makes the real difference: belief about God, about what it is to be human, about the Church and about the world. This is worked out in terms of the Kingdom values such as justice, forgiveness, gratitude, generosity, truth and love.
With chapters that also include a critique of the Every Child Matters agenda, and RE and Collective Worship, this is an invaluable book for head teachers, governors and parish clergy.
Quotes on this title
‘Education is always at the centre of society’s attention, and the place of the Church in education has never been under so much scrutiny. Meanwhile the Church of England is saying that church schools are at the centre of its mission. John Cox’s level-headed and informative book is therefore very timely and deserves to be widely used as a background to all that’s emerging in contemporary debate. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest – then take courage and get involved.’
The Right Reverend John Pritchard
Bishop of Oxford and Chairman of the Church of England Board of Education and National Society
‘John Cox has written a book that will be of immense value to Governing Bodies, Boards of Education and Headteachers especially of church schools. Three things mark this book out as a unique and timely contribution to the Christian education of children. First, it is grounded in clear, orthodox and practical theology. It explains why communicating the depths of the Christian tradition is so enriching for children.
Secondly, it is full of wise, practical advice and suggestions which are accessible and useful.
Thirdly it reflects the pastoral sensitivity and accumulated experience of its author acquired over many years as a Parish Priest, Cathedral Canon and Archdeacon.
This is a gem of a book, the best of Anglicanism and something for all the church schools in my own Diocese.’
The Right Reverend Tim Stevens
Bishop of Leicester
‘A Secretary of State for Education once observed that in general, church schools shared a plus factor, if he knew what it was he would “bottle it”. John Cox who was a highly respected and popular Diocesan Director of Education delves down into what should be really distinctive about the ethos of a church school, and of Church of England schools in particular. This is a timely and helpful book which will benefit all involved with church schools, but which also makes a fine contribution in support of what is offered in such schools.’
The Right Reverend Nigel Stock
Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
A joy to now have a readable book for all governors, heads and teachers Review by By DBE Chairman The Revd. Canon Peter Hartley (Newsletter Norwich Diocese 2012)
Often when interviewing candidates for Headship in a Church School in the last 30 years I would ask the candidate what were some of the features of a church school. The reply was regularly that the church school was a place of sharing and caring. I listened but thought this was a feature of all schools, church and community alike. It is therefore a joy to now have a readable book for all governors, heads and teachers and others who aspire to know about church schools.
John Cox sets out as the subtitle suggests: what are the distinctive characteristics of a church school. His starting point is the Christian faith and he shows what impact this could have on the way a church school is organised and functions.
It is a practical book. He has many suggestions, but there are boxes in the text to encourage governors and leaders of these church schools to explore what they might do about these issues in their context and particular school. So I encourage all governors, school leaders and clergy involved in church schools to read this book and explore the implications for the church school with which they are involved. (Posted on 09/01/2013)
For a head, teacher, governor or parish priest new to a church school the very least that they should do is to flick through this book Review by Lesley Rainsford (Diocese of Bath- RE Subject leaders Newsletter Sept 2011)
John Cox has been a parish priest, an Archdeacon and a Diocesan Director of Education. He is now a chair of governors in a church school. It is this breadth of experience that complements the role of teaching practitioner – and stimulates thinking. It took thirty years of teaching before I taught in a Church School. That was in a deprived urban environment. Croscombe Church of England Primary School (V.A.), where I now have responsibility for RE, is somewhat different being small and rural. However, this book is relevant to both environments – and I suggest all in between.
Firstly, and most importantly for busy people, it is easy to read. Chapters are clearly defined and have subsections. The book can be read from cover to cover or referenced by subject matter.
Within each chapter and section are what the author considers key questions and qualities. Even if some of these are seemingly obvious they prompt thinking and reflection. For a head, teacher, governor or parish priest new to a church school the very least that they should do is to flick through this book and ponder the highlighted statements. For what we do and say has to be within the context of an overtly Christian ethos and thus distinctively Christian.
The book provides practical resources for linking between church and school; school and community, particularly relevant to governors and those in senior leadership positions. It deals specifically with issues involving non-believers and those of other faiths. This latter aspect is of key concern in some inner-urban areas.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay to this book is that I borrowed it from the Diocesan Resource Centre and now see it as an integral part of our school resources. It is now being purchased and I do not envisage that it will sit on the shelf for long! (Posted on 09/01/2013)
Recommended Review by Portsmouth Diocesan Board of Education (Governors Notes of Guidance 2011)
We have been presenting a copy of this book to all our church schools to mark the 200th Anniversry of the National Society in 2011.
We recommend this book to all involved with the leadership of church schools in our dioceses. (Posted on 09/01/2013)
He reminds us that distinctiveness does not happen without deep thought, imagination and discipline Review by Mary Myatt (AREIAC Newsletter Spring 2012)
While this book has been written for church schools with the intention of helping them define more clearly the distinctive ethos of Church of England Schools,
it has important messages for all schools.
John Cox encourages schools to think more deeply about their values and the underpinning rationale for ‘why things are done here the way they are'. When the values of a school are properly articulated they are evident in the processes, the relationships and the very business of a school. Careful consideration of why we do the things we do in the way we do is particularly timely in light of the renewed emphasis on spiritual, moral, social and cultural emphasis in Ofsted inspections.
John Cox provides a very helpful summary of the history of church schools and their relationship with state schools. Without the concerted efforts of the various elements within the Christian tradition it is likely the commitment to universal entitlement to education would have taken much longer.
Whether one comes from a faith background or none it is probable that respect for all is articulated somewhere within most schools’ values and mission statements. The difference in church schools is that this is underpinned by the Christian understanding that God is everywhere, expressed in Psalm 39 as reverence for the whole of God’s creation.
In the best schools, whether church or not, service to others is the highest expression of love. This can be seen in the quality of relationships, the purposefulness of all in collaborating for excellence and in the transforming possibilities of reconciliation.
There is no sense of a cosy, easy, self sufficient attitude in John’s book. He tackles the difficult issues, for instance of God as a loving father, when not all have experienced the love of a good father. He also considers the obligation of church schools in including those with the most challenging behaviours and the consequences for excluding pupils. In one example he considers how, for instance, a head teacher balances the school’s commitments to inclusion and the extent to which this might affect the learning of the mainstream. But his message is one of high expectation in the worth of every individual.
He explores how kingdom values such as love, justice, forgiveness, gratitude and generosity can be expressed in a school’s daily life. We don’t need to be working in a church school to pay attention to such important principles.
Finally, he reminds us that distinctiveness does not happen without deep thought, imagination and discipline. A great reminder for us all.
(Posted on 09/01/2013)
I think this would be an excellent book for every school and parish to have Review by Michael Mill, Carlisle Diocese (Schools' Newsletter Autumn Term 2012)
John Cox is a retired Archdeacon and Diocesan Director. He has produced a readable and detailed book which explores what it means for a church school to be distinctive - which isn’t just ‘caring and sharing’. He aims to promote discussion among teacher, governors, clergy and church people.
Having proposed that there is no such thing as a belief-neutral education, the book explores what it means for a church school's foundation beliefs to be those of the Christian church. The book explores how these beliefs and kingdom values impact on all aspects of the school and, although a little repetitive in looking at beliefs and values, there are some good thought-provoking questions and challenges interspersed within the text.
The section on an assessment of the impact of Every Child Matters is now less relevant and might better have focussed on Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural outcomes. The book also gives an excellent summary of the history of church schools, the role of RE and collective worship and relationships between church and school, particularly for the un-initiated.
I think this would be an excellent book for every school and parish to have and particularly for those staff new to church schools or for those having contact with a church school to dip into. (Posted on 09/01/2013)