Today’s local paper, the Courier, carries the expected story about the interest some Kent schools have shown in academies. I have already set the record straight as far as this school is concerned in this blog two postings ago (‘changing times’). Talking to the media is always a hazardous business, as I learnt early on in this job – whetever you say will be used to fit the story, and you have no editorial rights over the way the story is put together. To read exactly what this school’s position is, please refer to my blog posting.
The term ‘faith school’ was an invention of the last government. I suppose it came about because it was felt to be a term which could be applied to Anglican, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other schools equally, whereas the term ‘Church school’ was restricted to Christian schools, and the alternative ‘schools of religious character’ was a bit long winded. However, I have always had a problem the the term ‘faith school’ – it seems to imply something dogmatic, closed, and exclusive, founded on a series of abstract premises. ‘Church school’, on the other hand, implies to me that the school is part of the living community which is the Church – it is the Church which is the living embodiment of Christian faith – the Church is where the faith dwells, and the school is part of the Church. ‘Church school’ evokes community and looks beyond itself, whereas ‘faith school’ implies that the schools is where the faith exists, not the wider Church. This is perhaps why those who are (in my view unjustly) critical of us always use the term ‘faith school’. So let’s get back to ‘Church schools’, and avoid the misleading and narrower term ‘faith school’.