From the cross on the front of the building to the words of the Lord’s Prayer placed in every room, it’s clear that this is a school which promotes Christian values.
But there is more to Manor’s relationship with the Church than overt symbols. All Manor students take Religious Studies at GCSE, studying towards the qualification for two hours per week.
Rev’d Tony Hand is Chaplain to the school and until very recently was also a governor. As the vicar of Holy Redeemer parish, where many of the students live, Rev’d Hand is the embodiment of the continuing strong links between the Church and the school which stretches back to the day the school was formed.
Rev’d Hand has been Chaplain since 2001 and has watched the school develop and grow in its Christian ethos over the decade. “One of the great things about the brand new school in Millfield Lane is the fact that there is a designated space for worship and prayer,” he says. “It’s important that we have a space for reflection, somewhere that is not a classroom or used for any other purpose. Regardless of whether we believe or not, we all need somewhere, staff and students alike, that’s quiet and gives you the opportunity to contemplate faith.”
The design of the new building places the space for worship in the heart of the school. The space is used as part of Religious Studies lessons, for acts of remembrance or as a place where people can go in a time of difficulty or crisis. Every term, a year group can attend a communion service and important days in the church calendar such as Lent, Ascension Day or Advent are marked here or in the school hall.
But once a year in the summer term, the school goes to Holy Redeemer church for a special service. “We do not want to let go of the fact that there is a church community beyond the school,” says Rev’d Hand.
He is clear that the Christian ethos of Manor is not about church propaganda. “It’s not our purpose to take people in Year 7 and turn them into Christians by Year 11. Instead, we hope to encourage and explore ways which will enable young people to make a decision about faith.”