Category Archives: Christian Education

Dear Pupils,

IMG_1877We love it when you succeed. But this isn’t who you are: you are who you were made to be by God who loves you in every twist and turn of your lives. Whether you do well in the eyes of people or whether you really mess up, the Father loves you. Whether your efforts succeed or fail, you are of infinite value in the eyes of the Son.

When you are with us, often you have been hurt and often you struggle. School at its best is like a family. The best we can, we nurture you and help you with the resources we have, with our own failings. But God in his mercy makes this good.

Sometimes as you grow into adulthood you experience deep sadness as the attachments of childhood slip away and you grow up into an increasingly complex world. Your emotions work against you and it hurts. Pain is the way of new life. Through this we work with you as best we can, as near as we can in the transforming power of the Spirit. Sometimes it doesn’t look good and living daily in forgiveness is good news.

As you live your lives now, learn to love who you were and who we were. Build your lives on love not bitterness or regrets. Success isn’t accolades: success is peace and contentment, success is others being blessed by who you have become.

IMG_1875You aren’t the letters after your name. You are the one praying alone, the one visiting the sick, the one caring for the vulnerable. You are the one living victorious in the mess of humanity. You are the light in the darkness. Be who you are.

Philippians 4:8 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The joys of text giving

I’ve always been a cheerful sort of chap.

The Ancient Greeks had a saying that a thought is a thread and that a storyteller spins yarns. These are all pictures from weaving. Yarns are threads and they are formed by spinning. A textus is a piece of weaving and so a piece of writing came to be known as a textus from which we get the English word text. The metaphor has moved into common speech as we spin yarns and follow the thread in a story.

It is funny to think that this ancient term that referred to the craft of writing and depth of thought is now used to refer to what we do on our mobile phones and following a thread is an online activity.

But we can redeem the humble text!

Every month my pay as you go account offers me 100s of free texts and free access to the internet for £10. My credit just builds up and I religiously top up not wanting to waste my money on sending a text, when they are ‘free’. I hardly ever use my phone to talk, except in emergencies; old school.

So what to do with my bulging pay as you go account? Give it away!

70007 text ‘Barnabas’ and Barnabas aid gets £3.

70070 text ‘CHUN09’ & £amount to donate to the Leprosy mission

And just to see how generous you lot are I have set up a page and if you text

70070 with MEMH48  £amount  and you will have donated to Shelter.

Just a thought… do your children top up £10, use their free stuff, then run down their credit. You could encourage them to give by creating a page as I have done. The pay back could be that you give them £10 a month to top up, if they give away more than £1 a month in text giving. They could set up their own page to track their giving and encourage their friends to join them as a fund raising team.

Have we redeemed text? I hope so because giving is a habit our children need to learn. Now how are we doing…

A vision for teacher apprentices

Our school, along with others in the Christian school’s movement, has moved from a position of being family lead to a position of being a ministry to families in the widest sense. Families are sacrificing in order to send their children to Christian schools in the belief that they are the right place for their children to be. This might be a choice before God or a choice made because of the circumstances of a child’s needs. Parents and carers may be believers or unbelievers but all want the best education for the children entrusted to them. To be high quality schools we need to have high quality teachers committed to our ideals.


I believe families are less able than they were when these schools were established to be part of the daily running of Christian schools. Fewer families are able to offer their time for free and so the burden of running the schools has moved to a waged workforce. Our workforce needs paying fairly in order to preserve workers’ households. This makes the schools relatively expensive to run because of current economies of scale. The schools are too small to be sustainable without sacrificial wages or a volunteer workforce.


Christian schools need to build capacity and make strategic plans to do so if they are to be sustainable. Part of this I believe includes the pooling of people resources. Our foundational resource is the people who began the Christian schools movement and have the subject expertise to bring on the next generation of teachers. They are the DNA of the movement.


Given that we believe that this Christian schools movement is part of God’s economy for the local church, where are we being lead? We cannot change our vision because on our circumstances, but we can look at our circumstances and see what they are teaching us about our core task.


I would like to focus on our use of technology and how this empowers us to bring forward a new generation of teachers for our Christian schools. We need people who are Jesus centred, strong in the church and have a heart for the poor. We need people who are committed learners, willing to reflect on their teaching practice. We need the next generation of Christian schools’ leaders trained as teaching practitioners in a technology rich culture.


I believe the context I am describing means we have to move away from a staff who are completely subject focused and specialists, to a staff more learning focused with developing specialisms. I propose an apprenticeship programme for Christian teachers.


We value the gifts of subject leaders but, in a Christian School, it is wisdom we value principally and so we are looking for character leaders who can be supportive in the education of the children. We want learning mentors who are settled in the peace of Christ, love his church and strong in its mission. It is this way of life we want to model to our students, setting them in the path they should follow; to live in the way, truth and life that is Jesus.


The use of technology will enable us to gather our dispersed expertise to a virtual centre. From this virtual centre we can deliver high quality, distinctively Christian curricula, emulating face-to-face tuition, distributed online. Students can then be encouraged in their learning by mentors who are teacher apprentices within the Christian schools, who, as they become more proficient and expert, take a greater role in designing face-to-face personal learning programmes.


Teacher apprentices would need to be comfortably numerate and literate and open to further study. They would need to be part of a discipleship programme or outreach activity within their own churches. The school would be a centre of learning for all its staff with supported professional development. Teaching apprentices should be financed in open studies at a graduate level, preferably in the subjects they are teaching or in Education.


Teaching apprentices who are already graduates should be sponsored in post graduate studies at Masters level.


Teaching apprentices, themselves being learners, will be well placed to help in the personalisation of materials and the design of learning experiences, with the direction of local teaching leaders and the online course directors.  When they have completed their studies they are then able to pursue professional studies or remain in teaching, themselves becoming leaders in the programme.


The vision is, Teaching Apprentices will have good GCSE results in Maths and English and A levels or equivalent in their area of study. Some may already be graduates. They will be embedded in local churches, work part time in our schools and be sponsored in part time or distance delivered studies, either in their subject areas, or in Education. They will be taught to design learning experiences for their students based on a central pool of learning designs overseen by subject specialists. These apprentices will achieve certification of tertiary education or gain a post graduate qualification with vocational experience.


The Open University offers open graduate programmes nationally ( as do local institutions. There are also part time study options. These often take up to 6 years to complete.


The vision needs praying about and discussing.


I would like to explore its feasibility and trial it as a case study in our humanities department (History, Geography and Religious Studies).


I would like someone to explore available graduate programmes and to look at the possibility of developing a government accredited advanced apprenticeship programme ( ).


If there is anyone who would like to explore this with me I would be glad to discuss it. Initially we will need to make online courses and resources available, based on course already being used or provided by examination boards. We will then need to decide how apprentices can be supported locally and online. This will mean finding online subject directors from across the Christian Schools Trust or elsewhere who are enthusiastic about collaborating online.


The Main Thing! Christian Schools.

On returning from the Christian Schools’ Trust conference at Swanwick, Derbyshire, I found my self reflecting on the head-teachers I had met and what was the main thing each of their schools reflected. Most of the schools had been set up 20 or so years ago and many are facing a transition as the founding individuals retire, or pass away. Central to each is a Christ Centred vision

Knowing the main thing, or purpose is important if the vision of each school is to persevere and the school thrive. Vision isn’t static, I believe, but organic; looking to the past but also to the future (a fact highlighted by Mike Simmonds, the main speaker at the conference). There are founding principals that set the agenda for any change in vision that may be necessary. Looking at our school, I would say our main thing is community. For others it appears to be family and for some the Bible (i.e. building Biblical character). I would say our school is also nurturing whereas others are distinctly evangelistic. The community we inhabit and are is not the same community we were and is not the community we want to be. Our current context and and our vision of the future give life to the values that ensure our school will continue to be community focused. 

We all have a measure of each of the above main things in our DNA but knowing what is distinctive helps define the way we are to go. So we are firstly Christ centred, then community focused and nurturing. We are also to some extent family supporting, Biblically founded and evangelistic but this is not our main thing.

So what does being Christ Centred or a Christian School mean. Underpinning each main thing is the conviction that God is the centre, the source of all wisdom and understanding and that we are to love our neighbours. A school that does not serve its local community, stands aloof of the local church and does not reach out in service to others here and abroad  is not a Christian School.