Church schools provide “biggest possible picture” for good citizenship
Westminster Abbey service to celebrate 200 years of church schools
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams today spoke of the importance of church schools in providing an environment for children to become good citizens.
Preaching to a packed Westminster Abbey congregation of school children, teachers and church and education leaders Dr Williams said that whether pupils were of the Christian faith or not church schools provided a vision for them "to see the biggest possible picture of humanity and the world they live in."
Church school children from across England and Wales* carried specially made banners to celebrate 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 joined in.
The Archbishop praised the founders of the National Society who believed it was "inhuman and unjust" to send children up chimneys and down mines and offered them an opportunity of education.
In a Church of England podcast published today the Revd Jan Ainsworth the CofE's Chief Education officer said it was important to celebrate the past while looking to opportunities in the future. "Our task is to make sure our Church schools find a place within the new system and to bring other schools into relationship with us."
The Choir of St Aidan's School, Harrogate, dancers from Parish Church CE Junior School, Croydon and performers from Manor CE School, York, all took a lead part in the service, conducted by the Dean of Westminster the Very Revd John Hall.
Listen to the Archbishop's sermon
*42 Church of England dioceses and six Church in Wales dioceses
More information on celebrations across the country www.natsoc200.org.uk