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Thursday, April 25, 2024
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The C of E’s schools shindig – travellers, gypsies but precious little Jesus

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WHEN Christianity and wokery attempt to join together, it would seem to be Christianity that comes off worse, if the Church of England’s National Education conference on Friday is a reliable witness.

The headline speakers at the ‘Flourishing Together’ event in the Union Chapel in Islington were the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan; Children’s Commissioner for England, Rachel de Souza; Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, and Lord (Paul) Boateng, chairman of the C of E’s racial justice commission.

There are 4,632 C of E schools, attended by around one million pupils, the press information pack proclaimed. A quarter of all primary schools are C of E.

Jesus got a mention in one of the pop songs performed on the stage by children. But there was precious little information about what children in C of E schools are learning about the historical Jesus, what he taught and what he did. A group of schoolgirls performed a ballet whilst various quotations from Martin Luther King were projected on to a screen and a Fatboy Slim-style audio of his ‘I have a dream’ speech boomed out. But there were no readings from the New Testament Gospels or renderings of any traditional hymns by a children’s choir that might have supplied more concrete information about the historical Jesus and the eternal salvation from sin and death, which orthodox Christians down the centuries have believed he achieved for all humanity.

Lord Boateng’s speech got most of the media attention via a PA news agency report. The former The Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Tony Blair’s second Labour administration claimed the C of E was ‘part of the problem’ in the educational difficulties experienced by members of the ‘Gypsy, Traveller, Roma community’.

He said: ‘They are the least likely to enter higher education. They are the most under-achieved of all groups of children within school, at every age within the school. They have some of the lowest rates of attendance and the highest rates of permanent exclusion. You are even more likely to be excluded as a member of the Gypsy, Traveller, Roma community in school than if you are black.’

Grovelling after this, a C of E spokesperson omitted to mention that laying the blame for pupil exclusions entirely on schools might be a little simplistic: ‘The Church of England acknowledges that it has in the past failed to be responsive to the needs of different UK minorities, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, and at the heart of today’s Education Conference was the launch of a new programme, Leaders Like us, which seeks to double the number of UK minority ethnic leaders in all schools across England, one example of positive action being taken.’

Gillian Keegan told the audience of ‘900 Education Leaders and Young People’ (according to the press pack): ‘You are transforming lives and you should be really proud of the work you do. And on behalf of the children you teach, I am eternally grateful. Put simply, without the Church of England, pupils across the country will be learning less and doing worse.’ 

There was no opportunity for press questions, so TCW’s stringer was unable to ask the Archbishop of York what steps the C of E is taking to safeguard children from proselytisation by transgender activists in its schools.

Nor was there was an opportunity to ask any of the speakers their reaction to Jeremy Clarkson’s lament in the Sunday Times last week about the woke left takeover of Britain’s schools: ‘Having taken control of the television stations, without a shot being fired, they turned their attention, like any conquering army, to the schools. Here they went fully Pol Pot, doing a comprehensive year-zero job on the curriculum so that kids would know their parents were all racists. Apart from those with “unconscious bias”. Who were racists as well.

‘You probably think, because you don’t know this war is going on, that when you drop little Johnny off at the school gates he’s going to learn the nine times table that day. No, he isn’t. He’s learning that he might actually be a girl, which is why there are probably tampon dispensers in the boys’ lavatories.’

Clarkson neglected to mention that essential to the fightback against destructive wokery in schools is the restoration of Christian education, of which C of E schools should be in the vanguard. No child should leave a C of E primary school without being able to recite the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Children of ten or 11 in their last year at primary school are perfectly capable of learning these treasures by heart.

But how many children in C of E schools know of the existence of the Ten Commandments and the central truths of Christianity summarised in the Apostles’ Creed, let alone can recite them?

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Julian Mann
Julian Mann
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Heysham, Lancashire.

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