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Reporting from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire

‘Jesus-inspired’ vision for church schools

A tribal visit

By Jo Duckles

Pic: KT Bruce

THESE four Maasai warriors captivated children with their story telling during visits to church schools this summer. They also sang and preached in churches during their month-long visit to the Diocese of Oxford. Chief, Peter, came to the Diocese with pastor John and Sabina and Dan to raise awareness of the challenges climate change is posing to their nomadic way of life. Some Maasai people are opting to stay put, so that their children can go to school and so that they can find enough water to feed their cattle. Traditionally Maasai have been nomadic, living in Kenya and northern Tanzania for 500 years. The visit was organised by the African Children’s Fund. For more information see

JESUS’S attitude to children should be at the centre of the vision and values of Church of England Schools. That was the message from the Rt Revd Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, as he took over as chairman of the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education. He was speaking this month as teachers were preparing lessons and parents ironing uniforms ready for the return to school after the summer holiday. Bishop Alan said: “There is a lot of talk in the education world about vision and values. I have met people who are waiting for the Government to decide what it wants to do. As Christians I don’t think we should look to the Government for our vision and values. We have a perfectly clear vision of the importance of the child in the Bible. Jesus changed the way society thought of children, putting them first. We should do that too.” Bishop Alan has taken over at a time when nationally, the Coalition Government is making major changes to the education system. The Academies Act, introduced earlier this year, means any school can apply to become an academy, with those classified by Ofsted as outstanding being pre-approved.

Meanwhile, many school buildings programmes, planned under the Labour Government, have been axed, and others are under review, as part of a cost cutting scheme. Bishop Alan said: “I think there is a bundle of logistical and technical questions about the detail of the academies process and no one knows yet how it will work out. We have experience of setting up academies and have learnt an enormous amount about the opportunities they can offer, as well as some of the snags.” Over the last two years the diocese has been involved in the creation of the Oxford Academy, on the site of the former Peers School and the Aylesbury Vale Academy, which has replaced the Quarrendon School. A third diocesan sponsored academy in Buckinghamshire has been proposed. “Academy status won’t suit every school and we are concerned to provide a high standard of education in all of our schools. “Church of England Schools were by and large founded for the education of the poor. We want to stand by our commitment to run schools for everyone, especially the poor and disadvantaged in our society.”

September 20010 No. 216

Inside: News What’s your promise? Do your bit to end poverty PAGE 3

News Bishop Colin runs the Great South Run for Cecily’s Fund PAGE 5


First tastes of New Wine PAGE 7 Meet our 44 new curates PAGES 10 and 11

Letters & Comment Church supports Amnesty PAGE 19

God in the Life of

Tony Baldry, MP PAGE 20

#216 : September 2010