Diocesan Board of Education Reformed

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Later this year Jeff Turnbull, the Director of Education retires in April after 25 years of faithful service. So what does it all mean for Church schools in this diocese?

Bishop Libby Lane said; “As chair of the newly formed DBE, I am excited to work with those appointed to build on the department’s excellence, and ensure that the management and support provided for schools in the coming years remains fit for purpose. We will continue to shape vision, ethos, and strategic direction, providing scrutiny of financial resources and delivery of work. We remain committed to supporting the distinctive Christian foundation of our Church Schools. Jeff has exercised a remarkable ministry in his post as Director of Education for 25 years and we are deeply grateful. He will be difficult to replace, but we are reviewing the Board and the post so we can recruit the best person to carry forward the next stage of this vital work.”

Church of England schools exist to serve their local community. They are inclusive and serve equally those who are of the Christian faith, those of other faiths and those with no faith. In this way they are not ‘faith schools’ but ‘Church Schools’ reflecting the service to the nation which the Church of England offers to all its parishioners. They provide a secure Christian education for children throughout the country.

Reflecting on his 25 years as Director of Education Jeff Turnbull said; “Over the past 25 years, there have been many changes impacting on the work of our schools, but what has not changed is our commitment to serve young people and their communities in the name of our Lord. Through the hard work and dedication of teachers, support staff and governors we can be proud of the achievements of our schools. In the Diocese, 87% of our schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted and over 98% are rated good or outstanding in their denominational inspection. With the greater move to academy status and the reduction in support local authorities are able to provide, we have had to develop new support structures. The Chester Diocesan Academies Trust is an exciting initiative and is available for any of our schools that would like to become an academy as part of a multi-academy trust.”

Historic mission to education
The Church of England has been involved in education for many centuries. Some Church schools in this Diocese are older than the Diocese itself.

However, most Church schools came about through the drive to provide Christian education for the masses of the poor in the early and middle years of the 19th century. By 1851 the Church had established 17,000 schools. State provision for public education came with the 1870 Education Act by supplementing the churches’ provision. This Act demonstrated the partnership between the state and the churches in education, which has continued to the present day.

In 1939, there were 218 Church of England Schools in the Diocese of Chester. This number reduced but in recent years has grown to 116. In this Diocese 47 schools are Voluntary Controlled, 59 are Voluntary Aided (three of which are joint Catholic/C of E schools), 9 are Academies and there is one Free School.

The national picture

• 1 million children attend CofE schools every day, 15 million people alive today went to one.
• There are 4,500 CofE Primary schools and over 200 CofE Secondary schools.
• The Church is the biggest sponsor of academies in England.
• Over  500 independent schools declare themselves to be CofE.
• A quarter of all primary schools are Church of England schools.
• CofE clergy dedicate a million hours every year to working with children and young people.
• There are 22,500 Foundation Governors in Church schools supported by dioceses.
• Each diocese runs a Board of Education supporting Church schools, representing an annual investment of over £15 million.

Types of church school
The types of church school within the state education sector are voluntary controlled, voluntary aided, foundation schools (all maintained by the Local Authority) and academies.
In a controlled school, the Local Authority employs the staff and controls admissions. In an aided school, the Governing Body employ the staff and are responsible for setting the admissions criteria.
With the greater move to academy status, the Chester Diocesan Academies Trust is available for any of our schools that would like to become an academy as part of a multi-academy trust.