Chaplaincy and Chaplains, in the context of formal education institutions, cannot be articulated as a homogenous experience or relate to a specific kind of person.
Chaplains in Church Schools have tended to exist at the secondary phase, although there is a growing trend towards primary school Chaplains (as opposed to the local vicar who pops in on occasion); and we are interested to see how Chaplains might be manifest in a Multi-Academy Trust context.
Chaplains can be full or part time, linked formally to local parishes or not, lay or ordained. At secondary level Chaplains are also deployed in a whole variety of ways: some also teach, some are responsible for discrete aspects of school management, some are on senior leadership teams, some are employed by the diocese but paid for from school budgets and others employed directly by the school. There is no set way of describing a Chaplain neither is there a fixed understanding of what chaplaincy is about in schools.
There is also an increasing trend for FE colleges to engage Chaplains – from the Christian and in some contexts alternative faith traditions.
At HE level many universities have had Christian Chaplains and over the last decade some have extended the provision to include a range of faith tradition representation and spiritual care teams.
The National Society in 2012 suggested that Chaplains and Chaplaincy within a Christian understanding might include:
- Reaching out to the young adult generation;
- Being a focal point for exploring faith, spirituality and worship, for those within and without the Christian community;
- Helping major institutions deal properly and creatively with religion;
- Building good relations with people of other faiths at a formative stage of life;
- Welcoming the stranger;
- Raising ethical issues with institutions and individuals;
- Offering pastoral care to students and staff;
- Facing big questions about meaning and purpose in life, about what it is to be human and what it is to be a good individual and community, in a place which helps to shape individuals and communities;
- Providing expertise to the diocese on, for example, working in a multi-faith context, working with young adults, higher education issues;
- Building good relationships between the diocese and the educational institution;
- Theological engagement with HE issues;
- Creating community and witnessing to Kingdom values of peace, justice and love within it.
We have ten secondary school providers scattered across the diocese. In 2016 the Diocesan Education Team began to work with the 10 secondary school Chaplains as a group and it is hoped that throughout 2017 -18 this work will continue with the express aim to support each other in our work. In time it is hoped to include anyone who is engaged in a chaplaincy ministry in primary schools. For further details about this work please contact the Education Team.