Success: School resists CofE evangelism following NSS concerns
Posted: Mon, 9th Oct 2023
Nonreligious school says it will 'decline' to join Church of England's "Youth Catalyst Project".
The National Secular Society has welcomed news that a school in Surrey will not be participating in a Church of England evangelism project.
The NSS wrote to Jubilee High School in Addlestone, Surrey last month after the diocese of Guildford said it planned to involve the school in its "Youth Catalyst Project". Jubilee High school does not have a religious character.
The project would entail youth ministers coming to the school to hold religious activities, including "termly worship events" and "providing a bridge into local church where effective small groups will be running to develop the faith of young people", according to a promotional video released by the diocese.
But the school has now informed the NSS that it "shall be declining this project".
In its letter, the NSS said parents choosing the school "will reasonably expect the education it provides to be inclusive and secular in nature" and many will have sent their children to that school specifically due to its nonreligious ethos.
It pointed out that the diocese has not stated how the Youth Catalyst Project will benefit the education or welfare of schoolchildren.
The promotional video for the Youth Catalyst Project said the Church "has an ambition to see the number of young disciples doubled by the year 2030". The Church of England says it aims to double the number of children converting to Christianity by "creating and embedding strategic partnerships between churches and schools".
There are fears that the Church may also be using academisation of nonreligious schools to help achieve this objective. In September, parents raised concerns with the NSS when they discovered their community school in Sandhurst planned to join a Church-run academy trust.
NSS: Schools are for education, "not the agenda of the Church of England"
NSS head of campaigns Megan Manson said: "We welcome Jubilee High School's wise decision not to join the Youth Catalyst Project.
"Our schools exist to serve the education of children – not the agenda of the Church of England.
"We hope other schools targeted by evangelism schemes will take note of this decision and resist religious groups' attempts to use their classes for conversion."