07 January 2005

Education Sunday to focus on "A More Excellent Way"

Wide range of churches to celebrate schools, colleges, teachers and students on 23 January

Too often the media focuses its stories about education on the high stress levels induced in teachers and pupils alike by their current experiences of the system.

By choosing "A More Excellent Way" as the theme for this year's Education Sunday on 23 January, the churches question some of the underlying assumptions that have led to this situation. Their message points to the way Jesus challenged attitudes to ambition, success and power, which if taken seriously will help lead to rediscovering the joy of both learning and teaching.

Graham Russell, Chair of the ecumenical Education Sunday Steering Group, says "Schools, colleges and universities are under constant pressure to improve their performance and fulfil new requirements. This approach to education can encourage unhealthy competition between institutions and undermines our responsibility to help individuals achieve their full potential. Is it any wonder that the joys of learning and teaching are so often overshadowed by high levels of stress?"

For well over a hundred years there has been an annual recognition in England and Wales of Education Sunday as a 'special' Sunday, a national and ecumenical day of prayer and celebration for everyone in the world of education. An ecumenical group has prepared resources for those planning worship for Education Sunday and copies have been sent to many schools and congregations. They are also available on many church and ecumenical websites.

"The aim of Education Sunday is to encourage congregations to think about schools and colleges, "says Graham Russell. "Many churches have links with local schools, but there are wider issues we also need to consider. And we want to offer our prayers and support for all those in the education sector: students, teachers, chaplains, administrators, policy-makers and many more."

The following websites are carrying free resources for Education Sunday:

The Association of Christian Teachers
94a London Road, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 1NX
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Baptist House, 129 Broadway, Didcot, Oxon OX11 8RT
The Catholic Church Catholic Education Service
39 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1BX www.catholiceducation.org.uk
The Church of England & the National Society
Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3NZ
Student Christian Movement
Unit 308F The Big Peg, 120 Vyse Street, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham B18 6NF
The Salvation Army Schools and Colleges Information Service
UK Territorial HQ of the Salvation Army, Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BN www.salvationarmy.org.uk/schools
The Methodist Church
Education Office, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=pandw.content&cmid=877
The United Reformed Church
86 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RT

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