School Chaplaincy

Supporting the growing ministry of school chaplains.

Researching School Chaplaincy

Between 2009 and 2011 SCALA with the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology (OxCEPT) undertook the first-ever empirical research into school chaplaincy within maintained and independent Church of England secondary schools. The research was supported by the Church of England and funded by a number of charities: the Dulverton Trust, St Gabriel’s Trust, the Haberdashers Company, the Mercers’ Company and Woodard Schools.

The research was undertaken on a multi-method basis. Initial scoping interviews were undertaken with school chaplains and headteachers in a range of schools. A full literature review located school chaplaincy within the conceptual contexts of missiology, ministry and chaplaincy. In-depth interviews with school chaplains explored their self-understanding as ministers.  A national, internet-based survey of all contactable school chaplains was undertaken to explore issues identified earlier in the study, and a series of focus-group interviews was undertaken with senior school students.

An initial research report was written and an account of the research outcomes presented to the first national conference on school chaplaincy at Liverpool Hope University in June 2011. In summary, the research revealed that there has been little or no recognition within the Church of England of the potential significance of school chaplaincy, although individual chaplains emerged as highly-motivated, spiritual professionals committed to the pastoral welfare of their communities, and with a strong sense of their mission as 'God people'.  From a wide variety of ecclesial and personal backgrounds and working in vastly different school contexts, chaplains have multiple, significant functions which are well understood by school students and a common commitment to 'presence'.

SCALA wishes to acknowledge this seminal work of its previous Director, the Revd John Caperon.

John is now hoping to incorporate his research into a book on developments and issues within school chaplaincy.

Click here to read the Research Project Report

School chaplaincy

Chaplaincy has traditionally been a distinctive feature of universities and colleges and of many church-based schools. Outside the educational context, chaplaincy has been a feature of the armed forces, of prisons and hospitals and of other institutional situations.

In the context of an institution or community, a chaplain is appointed to offer personal care, support, counsel and guidance. He or she has traditionally been an ordained minister or priest, and it has been assumed that the values and beliefs of the faith community will be reflected in his or her care and support for others.

For more on the pastoral role of the chaplain, go to the Pastoral care section of this website.

Chaplains have also usually carried responsibility for leading the community in worship, and have had a key role in devising and developing liturgy. For more on the liturgical role of the chaplain, go to the Liturgy section of this website

Training and support

SCALA has a strong record of working with school chaplains across the system, in maintained and independent schools, and in academies. We are the only national organisation providing initial training for school chaplaincy, and we also provide regular in-service training and development days, in association with the School Chaplains' Association.

In 2011 we completed a research project (summarised above) exploring the nature, extent and effectiveness of school chaplaincy, which has deliverd a clear picture of current school chaplaincy provision and the issues that need to be addressed for its continued growth and development.

For details of our training and development courses, go to the Events section of this website.

For details of chaplaincy review or appraisal go to the Appraisal section of this website.

Recent developments in chaplaincy

School chaplaincy is currently developing in several directions. Many parish priests of the Church of England are developing informal chaplaincy roles with schools within their parishes. Some schools which have not previously had chaplaincy are now inviting local religious leaders – of various faiths – to become attached to them. Some school chaplains are now lay rather than ordained. Multi-faith chaplaincies are developing in many FE colleges and a number of schools.

For a SCALA view on inter-faith matters go to the inter-faith issues section of this website.