Bethany School: An Introduction
by Ken Walze
What is Bethany School?
These are questions often asked as we sit and wait at the swimming lesson, the choir practice, the library or as we visit the holiday church. It is a difficult question to answer satisfactorily in the time people will allow before they switch off or take offence, albeit with civilised `christian' indifference. Christian Education arouses interest but can also raise hackles, particularly among the Christian community. Also, the question is difficult to answer satisfactorily in a short article because there is so much that must be left out, but...
Bethany School is a small independent school in Sheffield which was started in 1987 by a group of parents who wanted to be fully involved in their children's education. As parents we have an active role in the running of Bethany. We meet regularly to discuss, plan, organise and pray for the work of the school. We employ four full-time teachers and some parents have responsibility for areas of the curriculum. The school is managed by a Board of Governors, who are all parents of children attending the school, but the day-to-day running of Bethany is in the hands of the Headteacher, who also has children in the school.
Bethany is a Christian school and it is developing a biblically-based approach to teaching and learning. Parents and school, together, are endeavouring to prepare the children for life in this world and give an understanding of spiritual and eternal realities. The idea of the school as an extension of each family has had a considerable effect upon the way in which Bethany has developed. The school is to supplement rather than take the place of the family. Parents are involved in the education of their children alongside and supported by teachers who, because of professional training, may have greater experience and knowledge.
We have come to see that the modern secular curriculum is not unprejudiced or value-free, and that constant exposure to humanistic education will initiate our children into an understanding of life that is hostile to the biblical worldview. No school subject is religiously neutral! If a school does not acknowledge God throughout the curriculum it is making a religious statement, namely that parts of life can be interpreted without reference to God. This is little more than practical atheism which, as Christian parents, we find unacceptable as the foundation for our children's education.
The school has four class groups: Reception/Infant, Junior, Senior and G.C.S.E. Also, Bethany has a developing pre-school group organised by parents with children waiting to join the school.
There are no set fees; the school is supported financially by the parents and other friends who sacrificially donate what they are able to afford. At present, the school is based in church premises generously shared with us by the Sheffield Chinese Christian Church. We are urgently seeking the Lord to release finance from the wider Christian community in order to purchase our own premises.
The past, present and future of Bethany School is in God's hands. Parents and teachers at Bethany School are grappling with the issues involved in being part of a pioneering, grassroots work in education. We find it rewarding and a privilege to add to the work of other Christians who are seeking to rethink and redirect education in the light of a Christian view of life.
The original group of parents began this venture because they believed God was calling them to this work. In July we are holding a week of Tenth Anniversary celebrations as a testimony to God's goodness and faithfulness. By God's grace we should like to see to see Bethany School become part of the establishment of a Christian culture in our city where the Christian and the wider community are served by a rising generation of young people equipped to apply biblical principles to all areas of life.
Ken Walze is Headteacher of Bethany School. For further information, please write to 14 Campo Lane, Sheffield S1 2EF.
Copyright © Family Matters 1997