Church of England Schools: Into the Third Century
The year 2011 saw the Bicentenary of the founding of the National Society (Church of England) for Religious Education. Through the Society the Church of England committed itself to the vision of a church school in every parish. This happened 60 years before any state provision of education. Over the succeeding 200 years the Church of England (C of E) has remained a major provider of education within the publicaly funded education system, with the relationship secured in legislation, especially through the 1944 Education Act. There are currently nearly 5,000 C of E schools serving nearly one million children. This chapter looks at the historic and contemporary presence of the C of E in state funded schools and academies in England. The nature and ethos of C of E schools is explored through the lens of the self-understanding of the National Society and the C of E. The dual commitment to serving the C of E and serving the whole community are seen as shaping the schools now, as in the previous 200 years, in a specific and unique approach to the contribution of faith based schools to the education of the nation.