by The Revd Peter Laurence OAM | Chief Executive Officer, Anglican Schools Commission (ASC)
It is timely to reflect with you again on the Anglican identity of our schools. Firstly, I should say that there are 21 Anglican schools in WA.
Nine are independent schools:
There are 12 WA Anglican Schools Commission schools:
The Anglican Schools Commission also operates three schools in the NSW/Victoria border region, in the Diocese of Wangaratta.
Our 21 WA schools educate approximately 22,300 students from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12. Some 4,000 people are employed across the schools. Our schools have been educating Western Australians since Captain Stirling arrived in 1829, as a school education back then equated to one in the Anglican tradition. Independent schools commenced around the time Perth was declared a city, with Hale School attributing its origins to that time.
Statistics tell one story. But really, at the heart of each school’s mission and purpose is its Anglican identity. Across our schools there is a renewed energy to capture a sense of Anglican identity in fresh ways. Much as the ‘fresh expressions’ movement has captured the imagination of parishes, our schools have energy for exploring new ways of describing, experiencing and ultimately understanding and living the distinct culture and ethos of an Anglican school.
There are six ‘pillars’ on which our schools base their Anglican identity - faith, reason, worship, inclusion, character and service. While these six words don’t encapsulate all parts of a school’s Anglican identity, they do help to give structure to our thoughts, words and actions. When taken together, they speak of a generous Anglicanism that so many of us hold dearly, of a Christian faith that is distinct and a family of which we are proud to be a part. Importantly, it provides a clear framework around which to base our discussions with students and staff, parents and carers, old scholars and the wider community, on what is distinctive about Anglican schooling… what differentiates us from others.
The truth is that many engaged in Anglican schooling have struggled to articulate clearly what it is that is distinctly ‘Anglican’ about what we do. Sometimes we try so hard to focus on what unites us with other people of faith, especially across the Christian denominations, that we no longer can see where our beliefs and practices are different to others.
Today we are asked more than ever by parents and carers looking for the right school for their child, ‘what is it that an Anglican school offers that is different to the other ones I’m considering for my child?’
It is good and right that our schools are attentive to a renewed exploration of their Anglican identity with students, staff, parents and carers. How exciting it is that much discussion is happening in and with their communities about the richness of their identity, centred around the beliefs and practices of our Church.
Anglican schools are great places of teaching and learning, pastoral care, worship and service. The August edition of Messenger reminds us of these things as we read the stories of each school. As you do, give thanks to God for all who serve in Anglican schools across WA.