Church School Ethos

A Practical Handbook for developing a Distinctive Church School Ethos collected by Ian McDougall and edited by Sue Noakes is available here.

All maintained church schools have in their Instrument of Government an ethos statement. In Chester Diocese all schools have adopted the following statement, or one very similar:

Recognising its historic foundation, the school will preserve and develop its religious character in accordance with the principles of the Church of England and in partnership with the churches at parish and diocesan level.

The school aims to serve its community by providing an education of the highest quality within the context of Christian belief and practice. It encourages an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith and promotes Christian values through the experience it offers to all its pupils.

However, the school ethos is not something written on a piece of paper. It embodies the values advocated by the school's communities and provides the atmosphere for life in and beyond the school itself. The ethos statement acts as a focus for the unity of values and purpose among the diversity of the members of the school communities. The Christian ethos of a Church school should infuse the whole of the school curriculum and school life.

The following are some of the aspects of school life which will contribute to the ethos of a Church school:

  • the manner in which the school's mission statement and/or policies draw attention to the Christian foundation of the school and are conveyed to parents;
  • the relationships with the local church;
  • the relationships between staff, between pupils and between staff and pupils;
  • the standards of behaviour, the policies on discipline and the values inherent in classroom organization and relationships and how these are met within the framework of Christian values;
  • the links the school has with the local community, particularly the religious communities near to the school and from which pupils may come;
  • how effective the pastoral system is and whether it is effective from the pupils' point of view;
  • whether the building is well cared for, is tidy and clean and whether the standard of display is adequate;
  • the provision made for pupils with special educational needs and abilities;
  • whether it is clear from the ambience of the school that it is a Church school; whether there are Christian symbols in evidence, whether the school notice board and headed paper indicate the Christian foundation of the school;
  • whether the school resource areas are equipped to support a Church school education;
  • whether the personal, health and sex education programmes are set in the context of Christian values;
  • whether there are staff prayers and Eucharists, prayers at staff and governors' meetings;
  • whether there is a well-structured and managed policy for Social Moral Cultural and Spiritual education;
  • a deliberate attempt to link the gospel of Christ with the daily life of the school;
  • an atmosphere of encouragement, acceptance and respect;
  • a sensitivity to individual needs where children's self-esteem and confidence grow and where they feel able to make mistakes without fear of criticism;
  • partnership between adults and children;
  • sensitivity towards the beliefs, hopes and fears of parents;
  • providing stepping stones to and from the community;
  • a curriculum that combines academic rigour with fun, sensitivity and prayerfulness.

A Church school should offer the pupils the opportunity to:

  • reflect on the importance of a system of personal belief;
  • recognise the place a Christian faith has in the lives of people;
  • develop a sense of wonder, awe, curiosity and mystery;
  • understand the difference between right and wrong and the consequences of their actions for themselves and others;
  • be creative, questioning and imaginative within a broad Christian framework that recognizes the importance of experience, personal values and respect for the beliefs of others;
  • recognise, respect and celebrate cultural diversity.

Any good school will have:

  • A relaxed and welcoming atmosphere;
  • Security, warmth and care;
  • Opportunities for pupils to achieve their full potential;
  • Companionship and consideration for other people;
  • A feeling of mutual respect between adults and pupils;
  • Fun and enjoyment in learning;
  • Partnership between adults and pupils

The National Society self-evaluation model for Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools will help in developing these ideas and it can be downloaded by clicking here.


School Support
Webpage icon Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders in Church Schools
Webpage icon Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools
Webpage icon Becoming an aided school
Webpage icon Support for Small Schools
Webpage icon Guidance on Challenging Homophobic Bullying
Webpage icon Appointments
Webpage icon Admissions Appeals
Webpage icon Admissions
Webpage icon Religious Education
Webpage icon Collective Worship
Webpage icon Academy Conversion