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A core strand of the Minster Community formation process is to foster closer relationships between our church communities and our Church of England schools. Nationally, this is called ‘Growing Faith’ – a structure for linking church, school, and home.

Howard – a member of our congregation, choir, and chair of governors at Loughborough CofE primary school reflected on this strand of Minster Communities and a wider focus on education.

The Minster Communities initiative invites us to consider our links with education, at all levels within and beyond the parish. It is felt that the education sector as a whole provides multiple opportunities for missional activity.

Links currently enjoyed by All Saints with Holy Trinity (ASwHT) can be identified in three ways. First, there is a special constitutional relationship with Loughborough Church of England Primary School. Secondly, the roles of the Revd Angela Tarry, Anglican Chaplain at Loughborough University and the Revd Elizabeth York, Senior Chaplain designate at the University, offer a reference point for the work of Christian witness in a multi-faith setting. Thirdly, many members of our church are education practitioners (e.g. teachers/lecturers) and/or parents with school age children or sons and/or daughters in higher or further education. This is a link which can be overlooked but which is crucial in making available a range of practical experiences and views relating to the profile (or is it marginalisation?) of Christian witness across all stages of education.

Here at ASwHT we would like to encourage everyone connected to education, in whatever way, to join in the conversation led by James Badger as we shape our response to the Diocese.

I have a professional background in Higher Education, but I would like to focus on the Primary stage as a result of my work with Gwyn Bates and Jo Wilkinson as Foundation Governors at Loughborough Church of England Primary School. We are your representatives, appointed by the Diocese on the recommendation of the PCC, and we work hard to ensure that our special relationship with the school flourishes. Emmanuel Church has an identical link, and both Rectors are ex-officio Governors. It is a historical accident that has led to the school being located outside our parish. Opened in 1989 it replaced two previous church schools, one of which Warner was situated in Pinfold Gate, very close to ASwHT. There is the link if you need one!

There are of course other schools in the parish, both primary and secondary, and these must feature on our radar. It is with Loughborough CE Primary School, however, that we already have a privileged entry point. The school is emphatically not a faith one. It admits pupils with many different faiths and none. The diversity is impressive. The Christian ethos is fundamental to the school’s vision, however, and was commented on favourably by OFSTED earlier this year. How can we nurture our special relationship? The church hosts school events, clergy take assemblies and the Foundation Governors seek out opportunities to monitor that Christian ethos and vision. We can do more, by for example supporting the families within our congregation whose children attend the school and asking how it works for them.

We are being encouraged too, to learn from the relationships between school and churches in other parishes. This can be a strength in village communities where, quite often, church and school are situated close together.

Inclusivity is a top priority in education; it is for us as well. That’s a pretty good starting point!

Howard Jones