05 January 2011
The one million pupils who attend CofE schools will play
their part in this year's celebrations to mark the founding of the
Church of England's National Society in 1811 offering
education to the poor in every parish - 50 years before the state
More than 15 million people alive today had the benefit of
a church school education in England and Wales, including
celebrities and leading figures in public life.
The work of the National Society received the royal seal
of approval in the Queen's speech to General Synod in November when
Her Majesty spoke of its "impact on the life of the Church and the
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, President of
the National Society, said: "Universal free education
in England began when the Church of England introduced schools in
every parish - more than 50 years before the provision of state
education. Two hundred years later, church schools
continue to serve their communities, providing an inclusive
education with a distinctive Christian ethos. I am immensely
appreciative of the National Society's history and its continuing
role in supporting Church of England schools."
Today, more than 1,000 of the CofE's 4,700 primaries are
small schools providing vital educational provision in isolated
rural areas and working closely with their parish church to serve
the local community.
The CofE, through its dioceses, is also the largest
sponsor or co-sponsor of academies under the first wave - the
majority replacing vulnerable or failing schools and already
showing a marked increase in academic achievement
(latest DofE figures).
At a CofE Academy Family Conference at Lambeth Palace in
November Schools Minister Lord Hill said: "We very much value the
contribution that Church of England schools and academies make to
our education system."
This year's celebrations will be marked by events in
schools and dioceses across the country culminating in a special
service at Westminster Abbey on October 14 (Full details are on the
anniversary website www.natsoc200.org.uk).
Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said:
"Before the state had even considered offering free
schooling, the National Society had the wisdom and the
determination to make education for all a reality in this country.
Building on this heritage we have an opportunity to celebrate all
that is good in our Church Schools today. This year also gives us
the opportunity to dream, to imagine possibilities as to what the
future of our schools might look like. Working together we can make
those dreams a reality as we look forward to the next two hundred
years of enabling our young people to flourish."
The Bishop of Lincoln the Rt Revd John Saxbee, current
Chair of the National Society, added:
"Church of England Schools have a special
character which has matured over 200 years, and which we now
celebrate and seek to consolidate in the years ahead".
The National Society's full title is The
National Society for the Promotion of the Education of the Poor in
the Principles of the Established Church
FAQs on church schools www.churchofengland.org/education/faqs.aspx
National Society anniversary website www.natsoc200.org.uk
Academy Family Day conference with schools minister Lord