Methodists and education
Conference receives the Education Commission's Report
The Methodist Conference agreed to reinvigorate the Church's engagement with education and has asked Methodist Districts across Great Britain to identify local communities that need new schools, especially in areas of socio-economic deprivation.
Currently, almost 23,000 children attend the 65 state-funded and 14 independent Methodist schools in England and Wales. All the schools have a Christian foundation, serve their local community and are fully inclusive, welcoming pupils of all faiths and none.
"Everyone matters to God and no one should be deprived of the opportunity to develop to their full potential," said Dr John Barrett, Chair of the Education Commission, as he addressed the members of Conference. "The Methodist approach to education has always been about the development of the whole person - not just reading, writing and arithmetic. We believe that all human beings are made in the image of God and our schools have a strong commitment to creating an ethos in which every person is valued. They seek to fully address children's spiritual, moral, social and cultural needs."
The Education Commission was initiated as a result of the recommendations which were defined within the Team Focus Project 10 conclusions (reported to the Methodist Council in January 2007). Specifically, Project 10 recommended that an independent "Commission" on formal education should be set up in order to:
- recommend, after a radical review of the status quo, why and how the Methodist Church should be engaged in all aspects of the education and training services in Britain
- consider how Methodist people involved at all levels in the education and training services can be supported in their work and mission
Summary of the report and its recommendations
- The Commission believes that contributing to the provision of education is a major and proper part of Christian mission, but believes that, despite the Methodist Churches tradition in this regard, it is not, at present, taking this seriously enough. In particular, the Commission believes that the Methodist Church is at a critical moment, in which it could not only lose a significant opportunity to extend its mission through setting up new schools, but also risks losing control of the schools it has.
- The Commission urges the Church to recognise and support the contribution made by individual Methodists, in an employed or voluntary capacity, to their local schools and colleges and in the education sector generally, and urges the Church at Connexional, District and Circuit level to provide more fully for the pastoral needs of children, students and staff in schools, colleges and universities.
- The Commission believes that Methodism has a distinctive approach to education, and has identified 10 principles that underlie this approach.
- The Commission recognises the enormous opportunity the Church has to influence for good the lives of the 22,000 children currently in Methodist Schools. The Commission believes the Church should celebrate this opportunity and seek appropriate ways of extending this influence through the opportunities currently available.