Apologetic for Christian education


We recently visited a distinctively Christian school with the vision: ‘Young people loving God and equipped for life.’  Whilst they achieve good GCSE results and have received an excellent Ofsted report, they prioritise relationship with God over academic achievement and so deliver God-centred education, not just in lessons, but in every area of school life.

No government funding

The price for being free to teach with a thoroughly biblical world view is that they receive no government funding, so the school is a faith venture.  They have to charge fees, but are not elitist in any way.  They believe children should be valued for who they are, not for what they can achieve - they are not just statistics on a league table or a contribution (or hindrance) to good SATS results.  Therefore, unlike many other private and independent schools, they offer places to families and work with siblings of varying ability.

Encourage gifts and calling

They encourage the children to discover their gifts and calling as much as academic achievement.  Pupils generally achieve the best they’re capable of and many do better than expected.  More importantly, they help the pupils to see themselves as God sees them, as unique individuals, each with a God-ordained destiny.  They believe in discipling young people and encouraging them in a vibrant, passionate faith in Jesus Christ.  They're not providing ‘religious’ education, or Sunday School; their pupils are learning to involve God in all they do – work, rest and play!

Good relationships

The pupils are taught to live in good relationship with one another and how to restore relationships by repentance and forgiveness.  They also learn to care for one another across age groups.  The school deal with attitudes as well as behaviour. 

Closet children?

In answer to the criticism that they closet children while they're growing up, when as Christians we’re called to be salt and light in the world, they would say this:

i    Many young plants start life in a greenhouse, and no successful army trains its troops on the front line.  How much better to nurture, train and disciple the next generation, so they are ready to take their place confidently in the world.  Indeed, many of their former pupils are living radically for the Lord, influencing in the market place of ideas, whether they be lawyers, state teachers, doctors, business people, parents, etc.  Six of their former pupils are currently working in the school in some capacity.

ii   When the media is swamping the market with books, films, TV programmes and computer games with occult, supernatural or violent themes, inappropriate content and bad language, how much better to place young people in an environment where they are encouraged to be discerning!  Their staff read all the teaching material before any of it is taught, whether it be the reading scheme in the early years or GCSE text books.  Inappropriate content is ousted, and older pupils are shown how to approach controversial material sensitively with a Christian world view.

iii  When RE is excluded from the English Baccalaureate, and when religious studies and assemblies in state schools may include any religion or none, and no weight is given to the Christian faith, how much better to place young people in an environment where God-centred, worshipful assemblies are highlights of the week!  Some of the older pupils have voluntarily set up a lunchtime prayer room for intercession, worship and healing.  Even their youngest pupils are learning to open up their hearts in worship and praise and to pray in faith for healing.  Staff and pupils pray together and for one another.  Praying for one another when they’re hurt, ill or upset is usual.  Pupils learn to love the Bible and some enjoy memorising verses.  In the daily course of school life, pupils learn as much about the Creator as his creation.

iv  When parents are told that their children belong to the State, and the government is increasingly dictating what children should be taught and at what age, especially in the realm of sexual ethics, how much better to place children in a training ground where the school, parents and church are in partnership and giving a consistent message, in line with their Christian values and beliefs.

v   When we are encouraged to believe that education is neutral, yet the National Curriculum has a secular humanistic element to it, and now a strong new-pagan element is infiltrating every strata of our society, including education, how much better to rest assured that our young people are being grounded in a thoroughly biblical world view and a living faith which will shape their lives long after they move on from school.

vi  When many of the loudest voices and prominent media personalities are antagonistic or agnostic with regard to Jesus Christ, it’s a privilege to be free of National Curriculum regulations and able to outwork practical Christian life in the school context.  All their staff are committed to the vision and see their work as a calling and vocation.  They work sacrificially in terms of financial reward, but consider it a sacrifice well worth making.

vii When children spend up to 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 40 weeks of the year, for 14 years of their lives in full time education, how much better to nurture them in a Christian environment.

For those interested in Christian education, we could recommend a good school to visit . . .

When our children spend up to 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 40 weeks of the year, for 14 years of their lives in full time education, how much better to nurture them in a Christian environment . . .

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