Headmaster's Blog - Religion in Schools
Easter is a special time for Christians around the world and as we approach the holy weekend I know many in the Bloxham community will be reflecting upon their faith and considering their place in the world through the prism of their Christian values.
Bloxham is a proudly Christian school, set up over 150 years ago by Rev Philip Egerton, a man heavily influenced by the Oxford movement and inspired by Nathaniel Woodard, whose schools were based on "sound principle and sound knowledge, firmly grounded in the Christian faith.” From the outset, Christian values have been part of the school’s curriculum and development of our students. Yet why is a Christian faith school still relevant in today’s society?
Bloxham is built upon a Christian ethos but those of no faith and of other faiths are welcomed into our community. Our ‘Christian values’ provide one of the five hallmarks underpinning a Bloxham education and they are tightly woven into the fabric of Bloxham life. We do not force doctrines on our students, but we do expose them to an environment in which they are asked to consider their moral and spiritual values, which we believe to be an essential part of their development.
As part of this, we ask them to consider their place in the world, the contribution they make and how they can become a force for good. All students are expected to ‘give back’ through our well-developed Service Programme, which helps them to appreciate their blessings and develop compassion for those with less. They are taught to recognise injustice and encouraged to stand up for equality; now, and in the choices they make later in life. In a world where coming first and pursuit of self are the prevalent goals for so many, we teach our young people that ‘others come first.’ We hope that with these foundations and values they will go on to lead purposeful lives, with careers and pursuits which are worthwhile.
We use Christian values to guide our young in their interactions with others. The value of their developing spiritual intelligence emerges in the positive relationships they form with people of all backgrounds, and their tolerance and acceptance of diversity. They form connections based on respect and honesty, and every day we see the concept of ‘treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself’ lived out in the House dorms and on the sports field.
Through Chapel and our broader spiritual teaching students learn the art of self-reflection. Given the relentless pace and pressures of today’s society, I believe we can bring real value to 21st century lives by helping our students to develop the skills to pause and prioritise; which in turn bring comfort, strength and contentment.
We give our students opportunity to explore matters of faith and whether there is belief, or a rejection of it, the majority will leave with a heightened spiritual framework and strong moral compass to guide their choices and decisions for the rest of their lives. To me, that is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago.
My good wishes for a peaceful Easter.