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School chaplains

July 2014

School chaplains are no longer getting adequate support from their local church, putting greater pressure on school resources, a report has found.

In a 32-page report, called The public face of God: chaplaincy in Anglican secondary schools and academies in England and Wales, the Church of England (CofE) found that churches are no longer abiding by their former agreement to contribute to school costs. The majority of schools surveyed had a designated chaplain, a majority of whom were ordained.

Although chaplains fulfil many roles, including providing pastoral care, leading collective worship and ‘commending the faith’ to others, almost all are directly funded from the school’s own budget.

Nationally, chaplains did not feel that the church is sufficiently clear about or affirming of the place of school chaplaincy within its ministry. The report also called on the CofE to create a national policy for chaplaincy in schools.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, chairman of liberal think-tank the Accord Coalition, which has campaigned against faith schools being given certain exemptions, such as the ability to hire only Christian staff, said the report reiterated problems raised by Accord about the cost of CofE schools.

He said, ‘Chaplains can make a multifaceted contribution to school life, including counselling and mentoring for staff and pupils. Their potential for a positive religious role is not in doubt.

‘However, it will come as a surprise to many that the cost of chaplains, many of whom evangelise, is not met by faith groups themselves, but invariably from public funds. This is doubly problematic: the purpose of schools is to educate not evangelise, while attempts to indoctrinate should certainly not be funded by the state’.