Let me introduce you to a hero of mine…
“Whoever says religion and politics don’t mix must be reading a different Bible to me” Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Today I am going to the centre of our democracy in this country… 10 Downing Street. It is perhaps ironic that I have been there once before. I had been invited to a reception to thank people involved in education as what was once described to me as “Britain’s best export” by a visiting international teacher. I felt honoured, not individually but collectively, to represent comprehensive education in this country. We are one of the only countries, even not the only one, in the western world that has free education in faith schools and for this I am very grateful and proud.
However this time it all feels a little bit different as I have not been invited and may not be quite as welcome a guest… we are going to represent the needs of West Sussex schools and in fact education more broadly as part of the WorthLess? campaign. With twelve Headteachers and twelve students of all ages, 4-18, we are delivering a strong message – every child deserves to have a fair share of the money in education and the life-changing opportunities it provides.
We as a school have just over 1,100 students – if our school was located in Southwark (London) we would get £6116 per pupil, we get £4047 per pupil. What does this add up to?
- A grand total of £2,342,108 less each year
- We could employ 66 extra full time teaching staff if we were funded at the same level as Southwark
- Or 46 extra teachers if we were just a few miles down the road in Brighton
- We have 75 teachers in total… so this extra funding would be life-changing in the opportunities we could provide.
So where does this fit with the theme of this week of perseverance… the Gospel starts by saying, “Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.” We need to take up this challenge and to stick to our faith by making a positive difference in the world we live in.
Jesus’ message was political and challenging in the society that He lived in. He sought out those rejected in society – the sick, poor, enemies of the Jews, tax collectors and prostitutes. He actively looked to spend time with them not only showing love and forgiveness but challenging the views of those around Him in society.
Ultimately Desmond Tutu is right – the message of the Gospel is challenging us to have an impact on the world around us, we can’t be religious without engaging with the grit of politics. It is part of our faith not instead of our faith. We can do this with a sense of joy in our heart and a smile on your face as you can see with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu in their time together – so wish us luck in the challenges ahead.
Please keep us in your prayers tomorrow and also be prompted to support this important campaign because our children are worth it.