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Black churches should get more involved in education

PASTORAL: Bishop Joe Aldred

BLACK CHURCHES have a vital role to play in the education of African Caribbean children, a leading bishop has stated.

Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, from Churches Together in England, believes black-majority churches have a unique perspective in providing educational support.

“Churches can do a brilliant job of educating young people. But black churches may be able to help black children in particular. But first, churches must be lobbying government to make sure our history is appropriately accounted for on the national curriculum – Mary Seacole [who was under threat of being removed from history lessons] being a prime example,” he said.

Despite the number of black children gaining five or more A*-C grades rising for the last six years in a row, only 54.6 per cent of African and African Caribbean kids have managed to do so in 2012.

Comparatively, Indian and Chinese pupils had a 70.7 and 76.4 per cent success rate, respectively.

The Jamaican-born church leader emphasised that giving black pupils an understanding of their cultural backgrounds was important in providing an environment where the students feel comfortable to learn.

“Black Methodist and Pentecostal churches should be working together with schools to help provide an all-round education for children. We can teach about Marcus Garvey but also help with maths equations. There’s always a long history of churches boosting the skills of pupils through supplementary schools such as Saturday and Sunday schools. Past studies have shown that children brought up in a church environment do better in school than those who don’t,” said Bishop Aldred.

“If it had not been for churches, would the education system be as good? I don’t think so. And churches still have a vital input and contribution to give.”

Earlier this month, the Government agreed to a deal to allow the Church of England to run more than 3,000 schools across the UK, and giving bishops the power to pick school governors.

Dr Aldred supported the move and said it fits in with black churches’ determination to work more closely with the CofE to boost its participation in schools.

“The CofE and Catholic Church have long established contours in the education system and we are really focussed on increasing our partnership and helping provide children with the best education possible.”

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