Schools and Parishes in Partnership

Schools and churches can support each other in a variety of ways. The synergy between the two can lead to creative partnerships that enhance the learning for children.

Some schools and churches, despite their close proximity and shared ethos, do not have established links. If you’re a church or a school not yet linked to one another, let us put you in touch with your local minister or headteacher.

Contact Ali Driver for more information, she'd be delighted to hear from you and introduce you to your local church or school.

One of the main ways churches and schools work together is through achieving the Church and School Partnership Award.

The Church and School Partnership Award celebrates the positive partnership between a school and parish that leads to flourishing relationships and involvement between pupils, parents, school staff and church community. The Award provides an opportunity for members of both communities to review their partnership and identify ways to deepen this, with the support of the Diocesan Education team. Every CE school in the Diocese of Bristol, with their parish church, can apply for the award.

What is the purpose of the Partnership Award?

This Award celebrates positive and mutually beneficial partnership between a school and parish. It provides an opportunity for discussion and support between key members of both communities: a ‘stock take’ of current practice and ideas to inspire and deepen this partnership further. The Award can be achieved at Bronze, Silver or Gold which reflects the extent to which the partnership is flourishing, valued and growing.

What is the Award for?

The Award is for all schools. It is for all churches who recognize the value of work with under 18s as part of God’s design for human flourishing. Each stage of the Award describes the current degree of partnership working between the church and the school.

Some will be at the Bronze stage, where partnerships are new and emerging but there is a sense of energy in looking to develop more meaningful interactions in the future. Some will be further on in their partnership, with some established activities and mutually supportive interactions. The Gold Award is for schools and parishes with deep and well-developed, impactful commitments to one another and their communities, with plans for further deepening in the future.

Some schools and churches will consider reaccreditation as some time has passed since the last Award was achieved and new and different partnerships have been established.

Where a parish serves more than one school, each school needs to make a separate submission to celebrate their unique relationship to the church and the activities that work for their particular context. Churches with no school in their parish are strongly encouraged to work with a local school, CE or otherwise, to explore how this Award may be appropriate for their context. Partnerships will look different in each context, including where churches partner with schools without religious designation.

How is the Award achieved?

The Partnership Award does not look at the quality of teaching or leadership. Rather, it concentrates on encouraging the work of the church community in providing opportunities to build deep relationships and demonstrate Christian love and care to those working and learning in the school. In supporting the pupils and staff to flourish day by day, it’s a ‘living out’ of the message of Jesus who came that everyone is able to experience ‘life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10).

The Award is structured around four strands: Enhancing Prayer and Worship; Deepening Relationships; Serving the Community and Sharing our Resources. The self-evaluation is sent to both the incumbent or vicar of the parish and the Headteacher of the school to think together with their teams about how to achieve the Award and the stage that best describes the current partnership.

Does the Award replace the SIAMS inspection?

No. SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools) happens every five years. It focuses on the effect the Christian ethos of the church school has on the children and young people who attend it. SIAMS looks at standards of learning and progress, statutory compliance with, for example, foundational documents; the quality of the teaching in RE and how well distinctive Christian character impacts upon the whole curriculum. The Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) celebrates schools that do well in SIAMS as it is an important indicator of the ‘health’ of a church school. SIAMS cannot however, ‘make’ a church invest time and energy in its local CE school.

Church-School Partnership application form

2023 Church-School Partnership Guidance

Church-School Partnership Appendices Ideas and Exemplars

Church-School link case studies

The stories collected and shared below, inspire us all to look at ways to serve children, parents and staff, and make our faith known.

Examples like this can form part of an application towards the Church-School Partnership award. Click the links below to read and be inspired by each case study.

Other ways for parishes to connect with their communities is through the Growing Faith Chaplaincy strategy.

The Transforming Church. Together vision of ‘humanity reconciled, and creation restored’ is focused through multiple workstreams, including plans to reach young people within the diocese. Through this, we've allocated specific funding for a pilot scheme of Growing Faith Chaplaincy within the Diocese. Click here for more details.

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