Partnering for the Future

Ruth Thompson, Enrolment & Communications Manager

Last week, Vanessa Cheng, the CEO of the Australian Association of Christian Schools (AACS), attended our Association General Meeting to speak on Partnering with Parents to Protect Christian Schools.

AACS is a national advocacy body representing the interests of over a hundred Christian schools in all states and territories and approximately 42,000 students, including Christian Education National (CEN) schools like Kuyper. The organisation provides member schools with a ‘voice in the public square’ and representation to State, Territory and Federal Governments, supporting Christian schools on issues that impact our capacity to continue delivering authentic Christian education.

While it is not mainstream news, the Christian school movement is currently one of the fastest growing in the independent school sector, and attitudes in the broader community strongly support religious schooling in Australia. A recent national poll by AACS and affiliates on Attitudes to Christian Schools showed:

  • Three out of four Australians support the right of a religious school to employ teachers and other staff who support the clearly stated values and beliefs of the school
  • Over two-thirds of Australians believe that Australian laws should protect the right to hold and practice religious beliefs
  • 70 per cent of younger voters (18-24) support this right, an 8 per cent increase from previous research released in June
  • A majority of voters without any religious faith also support this right

What may be even more surprising to many is that this majority support is consistent across all political affiliations.* Read more.

This is in stark contrast to some of the polarising policies currently being tabled and reviewed by State and Territory governments which seek to curtail the rights of parents to educate their children in a school that upholds Christian values and beliefs, and the right of Christian schools to employ Christian staff across all roles.

Often, when we talk about partnering with parents in the education of their children, the discussion focuses on supporting parents’ right to choose the education they want for their children, reflecting a consistent set of values at home and school, or mutual involvement in the learning journey. In a very real sense, independent schools also rely on parents’ support to sustain the viability of this education choice, and not just by the payment of school fees (although this is an important part of the mutual partnership).

In a cultural environment of negative press and government pressure to secularise education, your voice in support of Christian education is a genuine way to partner with your school so that, together, we can continue to provide authentic Christian schooling that puts Jesus in his rightful place at the centre of education.

Staying informed about matters affecting Christian schools in Australia is a valuable first step, and also writing to our local members where appropriate. The AACS website and Facebook page are helpful resources about current issues, as is the Freedom for Faith think tank.

In addition, parent and student stories about the value of our school community are a powerful counter-message. Your simple conversation with a friend or neighbour about your lived experience as a Christian school family is a refreshing voice in a negative space and one that many parents are keen to hear. We will be celebrating all the wonderful aspects of our Kuyper community at Limelight next week. We look forward to sharing this time with you and encourage you to invite a friend or extended family member.

In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5

As Christians, we have a message of the greatest joy to share. We invite you to partner with us to keep this wonderful message available for all to hear.

Source: Vanessa Cheng, Australian Association of Christian Schools 2020, Australian Association of Christian Schools website, accessed 29 November 2022, <https://www.aacs.net.au/>

* Vanessa Cheng, Australian Association of Christian Schools, 16 November 2022, New Data Shows Strong Support for Religious Schools, AACS, accessed 29 November 2022, <https://www.aacs.net.au/new-data-shows-large-support-for-religious-schools-and-legal-protections>

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