The Bishop of Dorking, the Rt Revd Jo Wells, helped celebrate a new era for church school education in Farnham when she visited the town's Potters Gate CofE Primary School at the start of the spring term.
The primary school, which joined the diocese’s multi-academy trust, The Good Shepherd Trust, in December, will now be working more closely with the town’s St Andrew’s CofE Infants School with plans to expand the popular primary from Sept 2019 to enable 30 pupils leaving the infants to join them.
This closer relationship means parents now have a choice of church school routes in Farnham and can confidently opt for starting at St Andrew's knowing that Potters Gate will be offering junior places.
During the visit Bishop Jo led prayers and spoke on contentment to the whole school before being given a tour, sharing lunch with staff and being grilled by 14 members of the School Council, aged four to 11.
The School Council members, elected to represent them by their peers, interviewed Bishop Jo about her role asking her questions including: ‘Do you get nervous talking to lots of people?’, ‘What is the most amount of paper work you have done in one night?’ and ‘Are you more important to the church than a vicar?’
Bishop Jo, who is also a member of the Good Shepherd Trust and helps oversee its running, said: “Being interviewed by children is one of those wonderful, if not slightly daunting, privileges of this role.
“They cut straight to the point with such disarming honesty and that is absolutely what we want for them and what they deserve – an environment where they can grow in confidence, understand their context and question this world around them.
“They were inspiring and I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has steadfastly pursued this vision which we now see being realised, of providing top-class, caring and ambitious church school education in the centre of Farnham from aged four to 11. I look forward to seeing the relationship grow and deepen along with the rich opportunities for pupils.”
Potters Gate Headteacher and Executive Headteacher of St Andrew’s Infants Jayne Venables said: “We are delighted that Potters Gate has joined The Good Shepherd Trust which reflects the growing momentum around church school education in Farnham and the surrounding villages.
“It was wonderful to welcome Bishop Jo to the school and for her to meet the children and staff. Having the Bishop visit the school underlines our strong sense of identity and belonging to the wider diocesan family of church schools as well as our ambition to continue to serve the children and families of Farnham. The children and staff were really excited to meet the Bishop - It was a fabulous way to start the year!”
Bishop Jo was also joined on the visit by staff and pupils from St Andrew’s School and the Diocese of Guildford’s new Deputy Diocesan Director of Education, Jonathan Gambier.