Thinking Anglicans

Synod Questions about bullying in church schools

Question 65 Rachel Jepson to the Chair of the Board of Education

What progress has been made by the Board on developing recommended policies and staff-training materials relating to the bullying of LGBT people, and have any recommendations of the Board in those respects been implemented in any Church of England schools?

Answer from the Bishop of Oxford

The Board of Education/National Society, and indeed all Diocesan Boards of Education, are clear that any form of bullying is unacceptable in Church of England schools. If the Board became aware that existing tried and tested materials for both staff training and pupil activities were proving inadequate in developing relationships of respect and acceptance for all, the Board would take advice from the schools to determine appropriate action.

Question 66 Robin Hall

How many incidents of homophobic bullying were recorded in Church of England schools in the last school year (or the most recent school year for which statistics are available)?

Answer

No national or even diocesan figures are collected.

—-

Earlier in the day, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Presidential Address had said this:

…The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behaviour or anything that looks like it. And sometimes they look at us and see what they don’t like. I don’t like saying that. I’ve resisted that thought. But in that debate I heard it, and I could not walk away from it. We all know that it is utterly horrifying. to hear, as we did this week, of gay people executed in Iran for being gay, or equivalents elsewhere. With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying; but we must also take action. We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying. More than that, we need also to ensure that what we do and say in this Synod, as we debate these issues, demonstrates above all the lavish love of God to all of us, who are all without exception sinners. Again this requires radical and prophetic words which lavish gracious truth…

To put this context, in November 2012, Dr Jepson had asked a similar question. From the official record, here’s how the answers went:

37. Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham) asked the Chairman of the Board of Education: How does the Education Division intend to respond to the recommendations contained in the recent Stonewall report concerning the experiences of gay young people in Britain’s schools in 2012, in which it is reported that more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in Britain’s schools, many of whom attend faith schools, experience homophobic bullying?

The Bishop of Oxford (Rt Revd John Pritchard), in reply: The Board of Education is quite clear that no form of bullying, for whatever reason, is acceptable in Church of England schools and that it would expect all staff and governors to be vigilant and decisive. Diocesan boards of education work closely with their schools developing their Christian ethos and will be equally determined to put the absolute value of all children and young people at the heart of the Christian ethos of their schools.

Dr Rachel Jepson (Birmingham): Will the Education Division ensure that every school, at both primary and secondary level, has in place an LGBT anti-bullying policy and will provide training for all staff members on these matters?

The Bishop of Oxford: The Education Division itself cannot do that, but it can advise diocesan boards to do it and we will certainly consider that possibility.

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Richard KirkerAnonymousSimon SarmientoCynthiaThe Rev'd Mervyn Noote Recent comment authors
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Tony B
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Tony B

C of E schools appear to be rubbish at dealing with any form of bullying.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

So the Church of England is concerned about homophobic bullying, when the cameras are on its leader, but not sufficiently concerned to do anything about collecting information when it will actually involve effort? Matthew 7:16, I think.

Rosie Bates
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Rosie Bates

The Church of England Primary Schools often impose a selective system whereby in order to gain a place parents and children are required to attend their parish church. It is also the case that in some areas parents have no choice when a church affiliated school place is offered by an area authority. In the former case there is surely some pressure brought to bear on parents which could in itself be regarded as a form of bullying or abuse of power – in that their mission within the community should be impartial. Surely a child whose parents cannot get… Read more »

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
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The Rev'd Mervyn Noote

It is depressing that the Bishop of Oxford cannot in his answer even bring himself to use the word ‘homophobia’, or acknowledge that there might be a particular and specific problem of homophobic bullying . For it is clear that there is a problem not only in the treatment of LGBT pupils in church schools but also in the treatment of parents who happen to be in same-sex relationships. On which subject, in questions to the Second Church Estates Commissioner last week, Ben Bradshaw, the MP for Exeter, made reference to a case where parents of children at a church… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

We have to be careful not to generalise.

Many village primary schools are CoE, they are the school the local kids go to because they live in the village. They are generally not oversubscribed.
They are usually very well run. And, Tony, the 2 my children went to when they were little had excellent anti bullying procedures.

The second CoE primary school both my girls went to knew I was civil partnered and accepted me 100% as a parent. Many many years later I still have very good personal relationships with staff in that school.

james
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james

Consider this: The C of E has shown itself consistently to be an institution whose chief spokespersons bully lgbt people as policy, bully The Episcopal Church and its policies of inclusion, and bullies its own numerous lgbt clergy, an institution that protects and sanctions the bullying language of Reform, Anglican Maintstream, and their like, and refuses to criticize bishops in the Anglican Communion who endorse draconian legislation akin to what the Aryan Church in Nazi Germany endorsed regarding lgbt people in their territories. Why, on the face of it, would we imagine that such an institution would be concerned in… Read more »

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
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Erika, I am well aware that most church schools are no different than others in this regard and some are models of best practice. I have been involved with one or two myself. I am delighted your children have benefited from the best a Christian state education can offer. The vast majority of Church of England schools serve all without prejudice or favour. Unfortunately, as always, the bad apples spoil the barrel and give the rest a bad name. The minority of bad apples is, sadly, far from tiny. There is still a fear factor around dealing with homophobia in… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“Why, on the face of it, would we imagine that such an institution would be concerned in the least with bullying within its schools, particularly when it is eager to protect those same schools from the reach of equality legislation, and discourses endorsing marriage equality?”

Very good points, James. Though, I want to hold out hope that the ABC will actually take meaningful action on behalf of children… we’ll see.

Simon Sarmiento
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Letter in the Church Times today: Homophobic bullying and church schools 12 Jul 2013 From Dr Rachel Jepson and Mr Robin Hall Sir, – We welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s profound commitment to tackling homophobic bullying in schools, announced at General Synod. Nevertheless, it seems, the Board of Education has some catching up to do. In answer to questions that we tabled at Synod, we were told that the Board has no data on the number of homophobic bullying incidents in Church of England schools – although the Archbishop revealed to the Synod the appalling statistic that 97 per cent… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

“White upper-middle class clergy with top notch educations are not being driven out of the Church because they are gay.” The Rev’d Mervyn Noote

My partner matches that description perfectly – and, yes, they are.

Richard Kirker
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Richard Kirker

The Commission on Christian Homophobia published a prescient report in 2000 which provided, inter alia, Recommendations for Good Practice in Education. The CofE did its best to ignore the report at the time, despite a copy being sent to every member of the General Synod.
To save a lot of time, and waste of resources, perhaps it would like to consult the report now? Even 13 years later it would provide dividends.
[LGCM, ISBN 0 946310 10 6]