Bishop welcomed at Samuel Ryder Academy
The Bishop of Hertford, Dr Michael Beasley, visited Samuel Ryder Academy, St Albans, responding to an invitation made in connection with his visit to the parish of St Luke’s Church, St Albans, in which Samuel Ryder Academy is situated.
Samuel Ryder is a community school, not a Church of England school, but Church of England parishes often develop strong connections with schools in their parish through a wide variety of contacts, from participating in occasional school assemblies, to supporting RE teaching, offering after-school clubs in the parish or welcoming pupils and families to church for worship.
During the visit, Bishop Michael visited both primary and secondary RE classes. He met Stebbie Hayes, year 1 teacher and Tom Wade, RE Coordinator. At Samuel Ryder, secondary RE classes are supported by an independent Christian charity, STEP, and Tim Sandford, one of STEP’s Schools’ Coordinators was also present. STEP provides supplementary lessons, or lesson outlines tailored to a school’s own needs.
Bishop Michael saw how keenly pupils at all stages engaged with the material in the RE lessons, which is an important part of pupils’ academic and personal development as well as a very popular subject at GCSE.
The Samuel Ryder Academy values RE as part of its Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural (SMSC) education and a big part of this involves teaching the students about mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. This helps students to be well prepared for life in a tolerant, multi-faith modern Britain and is taught alongside the other British values of democracy, the rule of law and individual liberty.
Bishop Michael was also asked about his life and role including questions like:
“What sort of things do you do for the community?” In answering, Bishop Michael spoke about the work of the churches in their communities, in things such as foodbanks, their care for marginalised and vulnerable people and the role of Bishops in supporting and enabling that.
Another question put to him was “Can you prove God exists?” He responded: “I spent a lot of my working life as a scientist and I am fascinated by how we know things. A lot of things you can prove by scientific method. But some things you can’t prove like that. I don’t think God is amenable to being proved using a scientific method. God has to be known in other ways. I know God by my experience, by how people who claim to follow God behave in the world and from history.”
Speaking about the visit Bishop Michael said: “The great relationship between parish and school is really evident here and I have been warmly received by all. I’d like to encourage parishes and schools to get to know one another and deepen their contact. Churches and schools have a lot in common: they are community organisations focussed on building peaceful communities in which all people flourish, especially children and young people. As an educator, with 135 schools in the Diocese of St Albans, the Church also has much to learn from and much to offer schools in our communities.”
Samuel Ryder Academy Headteacher, Matt Gauthier, said;
“We are very pleased that the Bishop was able to visit us today. The Samuel Ryder Academy is a school at the very heart of its community and our links with the Church and other local organisations enable us to provide our pupils with a very rich learning experience. It is experiences like this one and the many others that we provide throughout the year that help our young people to grow into well rounded young men and women who are ready to make a positive contribution to their communities and are well prepared for life in an ever changing world.”