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CE First School and Nursery

Love, Learn, Fly – Do Everything in Love: 1 Corinthians 16:14

The History of our Church School

The early nineteenth century was an age when many children were sent out to work, and so schooling during the week was not often a realistic option. It was also a time of widespread poverty, and education was seen as a way of improving the lives of the deprived. This philanthropic concern for the poor was also linked with a desire to improve public morality and reduce crime. It was believed that to provide a mass education would engage young people and provide skills that would prove useful in gaining employment.


A religious concern to overcome the generally low level of religious knowledge, prompted the foundation of the National Society for Promoting Religious Education in 1811, funded by private charity. The founders raised money to build schools and pay teachers. They aimed to found a church school in every parish, and indeed one existed in Cranborne in 1828, and on the present site from 1868.


At this time land and buildings were often purchased from the church to house the school, and the church had a say in the curriculum and how it was taught. RE or ‘Scripture’ (Bible study) was taught every day, since the Bible was the only book available to most. The church said who was to be employed and the progress of children was reported to the clergy. The Christian religion was the established religion and the Ten Commandments were the basis of many of our laws.


As schools became bigger, groups of rich benefactors would assist the school and boards of governors were formed. We are still governed by a Board of Governors but their financial connection has changed! Each of the schools had a ‘Trust Deed’ outlining the School’s beginning and its constitution. Ours is stored safely in School and states ‘that the Gascoyne Cecil Estate has provided land to the Diocese of Salisbury for the school’ (quote from our trust deed). We are a school with a ‘religious character’ and a Church of England school.


There are now many different types of schools, even different church schools. Some are ‘Voluntary Controlled’, which were once run by the church and the diocese but when the 1944 Education act imposed higher standards on school facilities, voluntary schools were offered a choice to have costs met by the local education authority. This means the local authority has a greater say, for example in appointing the Headteacher. Conversely, our School is ‘Voluntary Aided’ which means the church owns the building and contributes a proportion of costs. The church is responsible for appointing the Headteacher, and we liaise often with the Diocese of Salisbury. Our Rector, Reverend Robert Simpson has an active involvement in our School.


This Christian foundation requires us to have a greater proportion of Governors appointed by the Diocese and responsible for upholding the foundation. In addition to an Ofsted Inspection to judge our effectiveness, we have a SIAMS Inspection which judges the distinctive Christian character of the school.


Religious Education is obviously important in our school and contributes to the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of our children. It informs our values and is reflected in what we say and do. We state that in formulating our ethos we have considered the tradition of church schools, remembering the foundation of Christian faith that informs them, and wanting to convey that our faith is real and communicated in word and action.