Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage
Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage

Downside Lower School, Dunstable, was re-opened as St Augustine?s Church of England Academy by the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, on 19th September.

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This is the first of two significant events for Dunstable and the Church of England before the end of September. The second will see All Saints Academy?s new building opened by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 27th September.

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For Downside, the change means that the school will, like other Church schools, develop its Christian character and ethos.

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The Bishop of St Albans, welcomingSt Augustine?s as a new Church school, explained the nature of Church schools in this way:

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?Church schools welcome children from across the community, irrespective of faith and they teach the national curriculum. What sets them apart is that they aim to provide an education of the highest quality within the context of Christian belief and practice.

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“Church schools also encourage an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith, and promote Christian values through the experience offered to all pupils. What they offer is unique and rightly highly valued by parents.?

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The school will look to the Diocese of St Albans as well as the local authority for support. At the same time, becoming an Academy brings a greater degree of independence from Mid Bedfordshire Council.

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With an already strong relationship with nearbySt Augustine?s church, and an ethos which had many Christian characteristics, becoming a Church of England Academy was a natural step for the Governors andHeadof the school to take. They were searching for a better future for the school and the children of its community it serves and considered that the strong Christian ethos of a Church school would help them achieve that.

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The move has been widely welcomed by parents, who needed little reassurance that children who did not attend church would still be welcome.

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Principal Marilyn Ravenor said ?Parents have been happy about the changes. They want their children to be taught values which equip them for their whole lives.

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?Our aspiration is to set our pupils on a course to becoming global citizens, living Christian values.

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?The children are very happy with the changes and love their new uniforms. Each child has received a Bible ? a children?s edition, rather than the King James Bible which every school received last year.?

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Chair of Governors, Cllr Roger Pepworth, said:

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?We were looking for the best way of giving the school a higher profile, wider relationships and a stronger presence in the local community. Staff and Governors are confident that this is the right way forward.

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“There has been significant hard work to get to this point and pupils and their parents have shown much confidence in the staff of the school in their warm welcome for the steps we are taking.?

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The Revd Penny Draper, Vice-Chair of Governors and Team Vicar at St Augustine?s Church, said:

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?St. Augustine?s Church and the school were built in the same year, 1959, and have always had very strong links. As a Governor, I know some of the parents and most of the children in the school.

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“It is a great joy that the relationship has deepened to this point, where the school will become part of the family of 135 Church schools in the Diocese of St Albans.?

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