Sunday, February 07, 2010

Where my mouth is...

At Saturday's diocesan synod, we were updated about the sad situation that is assailing one of the two C of E secondary schools in the diocese...a school that has struggled in the past as it serves a disadvantaged area, in a city where there are grammar schools to cream off the able offspring of pushy middle class parents...
We heard about the positive impact of a changed ethos, since it became a C of E school 3 years ago, about the wonderful work of the chaplain, and the warm responses this has drawn from parents and students of many faiths and none.
That's all the background you need in order to hear the challenge issued by one of my favourite people on the planet, a senior priest whose wisdom I value hugely...
Her contention is that, if we believe that we're called to serve and support  those on the margins, this should properly include putting our children into the sort of schools that nobody chooses...and that the presence of a group of parents whose agenda was the flourishing of all the children in the school would make a huge difference.
And I know she's right.
But I also know that I was so so glad, as I sat there, that even my youngest child is in his final year of school, that I'd never have to make that decision - because I can't be sure that the choice I would make would be the ethical one.

9 comments:

Graham said...

And it is an issue we face- good area, good school- 6 &8 year old and we probably should think about moving as they hit secondary school....

...but where and how....

gloriousthings said...

So glad ours go to a comprehensive school where there is no choice. Just one school. There is a true mix of backgrounds and abilities. I honestly don't know what I would do if faced with an ethical dilemma.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to use a school - home education is another option!

Jan said...

You're so right, and my last teaching job was in one of those schools. But I didn't want my children to go to that school either. Truth hurts.

maggi said...

did your priestly friend send her own children to a low-performing school?

Kathryn said...

Maggi - her daughter is older than L & she wasn't living where there were grammars or more popular comprehensives to cloud the issue. Has always had ministry in tough UPA areas. Really DOES put her money where her mouth is, in all things...

Song in my Heart said...

Which is part of why I am getting stuck in at Nearest Church despite a number of other London churches where I could do good musical work with better resources and less resistance... there must be places like Leafy Suburb Church that aren't as far away...

...and it's part of why you stay where you are despite the difficulties, too.

It's part of why people get vaccines for their children. It's part of why it's important for us to share our resources with anyone who has less than they need.

Everything is interconnected; we all suffer if one suffers and we all benefit if one benefits. Getting the balance right is hard -- should I take medication that is expensive for the NHS to give to me? How can I, someone who has had so many advantages, justify the educational grants I got while at uni? Making these decisions on behalf of children is never easy but I'm sure if you had to decide you would make a faithful decision.

maggi said...

what about your calling to your kids? also important. ANd what about their own calling? If you deliberately limit their education you are deciding something about their entire life - so maybe they won't get to go to a good university, will almost certainly not have science or maths options ahead of them. It's not a simple matter of principle. And that's before you even touch special needs...

Kathryn said...

Maggi - I think ther thought was that schools like the one under discussion just needed a few committed parents to work WITH staff, diocese etc to change the climate - amazing things happening already in terms of ethos but with majority of children from deprived homes few parents able to do all the m/c parental input things that make a difference.
But I agree wholeheartedly that it's not straightforward...even without the special needs element to consider...which is why I am so profoundly thankful that it's not a decision I'm faced with here.