A Church School
About St Mark’s Church
St Mark’s is part of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, in the Croydon Area, which has been serving the people of South Norwood since 1852. St Mark’s Parish has approximately 2,000 residents. The main service is our Sunday morning Parish Eucharist (Communion). Anyone who is a member of any Christian Church is welcome to come up and take Communion - or to come up for a blessing. There is also a Holy Communion service at 8 am and a said Evensong at 6 pm.
Baptisms always take place in this main service, usually on the last Sunday of the month.
During the service, there is a Sunday School in the Hall for 5-11 year-olds. We have special services at Christmas - a Carol Service, Children’s Nativity play, Midnight Mass and Christmas Morning; a Candlemas Service (around Feb 2nd); Ash Wednesday, Mothering Sunday, Palm Sunday (a Procession); each day of Holy Week – two services and a meditation on Good Friday, and joining the Churches Together in South Norwood (CTSN) for the Good Friday Walk of Witness. There are other special services – All Age Services which include children especially, for example at Harvest.
As a member of Churches Together in South Norwood, we share a number of services with other local churches: The Good Friday walk of Witness, Harvest and Advent services as well as a network of House Groups during Lent. We have Quiet Days (for prayer and meditation) at the beginning of Advent, Lent, Holy Week and House groups in Lent (with CTSN).
We have a Mothers’ Union that meets monthly either in the afternoon or evening.
Children over 7 can prepare to take Communion before Confirmation; and 10+ year olds - as well as adults of course - can prepare for Confirmation (usually in May/June) which is shared with three other local Anglican churches (Holy Innocents’, Saint Luke’s and Saint Alban’s).
There are a number of social and fund raising events: Christmas and Easter Fairs; Book Sales, Quizzes, Dances, Harvest Suppers and Parish Outings.
What does it mean to be a Church of England School?
A Church of England school is, like community schools, funded through the Local Authority, but the building is owned by the Diocese of Southwark. In line with the Church of England, all children are welcome at our school - whether they are from a Christian faith, an other faith or of no faith. A majority of the governing body posts are 'Foundation' governors, with a specific role to support the ethos of the school. Church schools set their own admission criteria - our admissions criteria can be found in the 'school information' section of the website.
"A Christian school is one in which the atmosphere has the kind of openness about it, that sense that people are worth spending time with, that people need time to grow, need loving attention. The Christian Gospel says that every person has a unique task to do, with God, and for God, whether they know it or not. It doesn't necessarily mean that everyone involved has to share the same theology or philosophy. It doesn't mean that everyone knows that they have this relationship with God, and is consciously working at it. But a Christian school is one in which the entire atmosphere is pervaded by a conviction that there is something mysterious, and potentially wonderful, in everybody." (Archbishop of Canterbury)
Church schools undergo SIAMS (church-run) inspections as well as government OFSTED inspections. SIAMS inspection focuses on the impact of the Church school's Christian vision on pupils and adults. This involves looking at the school’s Christian vision, the provision the school makes because of this vision and how effective this provision is in enabling all pupils to flourish. Church schools will employ a variety of strategies and styles appropriate to, and reflective of, their particular context in order to be distinctively and effectively Christian in their character and ethos. SIAMS inspectors therefore do not look for a set template of what a Church school should be like, but rather take the particular context of the school into account and base their evaluation on the outcomes rather than the process.
The Evaluation Schedule has one inspection question: how effective is the school’s distinctive Christian vision, established and promoted by leadership at all levels, in enabling pupils and adults to flourish?
This is explored through seven strands:
- Vision and Leadership
- Wisdom, Knowledge and Skills
- Character Development: Hope, Aspiration and Courageous Advocacy
- Community and Living Well Together
- Dignity and Respect
- The impact of collective worship
- The effectiveness of religious education
One overall grade is awarded reflecting the contribution of these strands to the flourishing of pupils and adults in a Church school.
A copy of the latest report can be found in the ‘Achievement & Performance’ part of the website.
How are children from non-Christian backgrounds included?
As a Church of England School, St Mark’s both distinctive and inclusive. This means that we warmly welcome all children to share in a Christian-based educational setting whether they are from a Christian faith, an other faith or of no faith. We believe that everyone is unique, special and loved by God. All should be accepted without prejudice.; "For we are all made in the 'image' of God" Genesis 1:27
One of our core values is the value of respect; this value is at the heart of all school life. It is very important to us to teach children to respect each other, even if they hold different beliefs to their own.
Our collective worships are fully inclusive and all children are encouraged to think and reflect on the theme being conveyed. Children can choose to close their eyes and reflect or join in with the prayers.
The daily act of Collective Worship is a legal requirement in all schools and at St Mark’s it is based on a Christian and Anglican foundation. We use the Bible as reference, as well as examples from other walks of life.
It provides the opportunity to come together as a school community to promote Christian values and the vision of the school, which is ‘Inspiring minds, achieving excellence and nurturing faith’
Christian teaching provides the children with the opportunity to relate the core values to their own lives and reflect on choices they have made and how choices impact on lives and on this world.
It encourages pupils to take responsibility for their own conduct and display good values around the school and on a Thursday, we celebrate examples of good values in our celebration worship.
Prayer plays a very important role at collective worship. Children have the opportunity to do silent prayers, during quiet reflection as well as write prayers in their special place in the classroom. Children's prayers are dedicated to God as part of the Church worship.
Children play an integral part of collective worship, with them leading readings and prayers on a Wednesday in the Church. We are fortunate to have Mother Roxanne leading collective worship both in Church and during weekly visits to the school site.
Our vision of 'Inspiring Minds, Achieving Excellence and Nurturing Faith in reflected in our times of Collective Worship. We invite you to join us each week. Please highlight and right click on the link: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqyQAgW2WpOH9_6fml03UPrkVjq9S8oCj
The following elements are part of our usual school practice (some of the aspects have been adapted due to Covid restrictions):
- Music as the children enter the hall to create an appropriate atmosphere. Children are encouraged to join in with the praise and worship songs.
- Welcome greeting and school values prayer, whilst lighting the candle.
- A key message
- A time of reflection on the key message where children are prompted to think or pray about the world, the school and people in the community.
- This is a quiet time, for children to reflect on how the Christian values can help them to make a positive difference at St Mark’s, in the community and the wider world
- The final prayer / The Lord's Prayer.
- Music/Hymn as children leave the hall
We follow a programme, that includes significant events in the church calendar.
Prayers and Symbols
Our School Values Prayer reflects our commitment to “shine” in every area of life developing our relationship with God and each other.
Heavenly Father please help me to:
Respect others and rejoice in their achievements.
Endeavour to learn something new every day.
Accept and celebrate the differences in others.
Continuously rise to every challenge.
Honestly reflect on my own actions
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
At St Mark's our School Values Prayer spells out the word 'Reach' ; as our light shines we are able to 'reach' and positively impact those around us.
Our foundation scripture is Matthew 5 : 14-16.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."
Our School song is "This little Light of Mine."
Various Christian symbols can be seen around our school to remind children, staff and visitors of our heritage, God's presence among us and of his saving power.
A cross is displayed in every classroom to remind us that God sent his Son into the world to take on our sins and die for us so that we might have eternal life with Him.
Candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world, a light that no darkness can put out.
Different colour table cloths are used during collective worship and on prayer tables in each class to present the liturgical church calendar.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5: 14- 16
The above verses remind us of our core values and that we should be the very best that we can be. As we allow Jesus to shine through our lives we are able to REACH out to others and make a difference in the world.
Our core values
Religious Education (RE)
Our bespoke RE curriculum consists of two thirds Christianity and one third of the curriculum cover the teaching of other main world religions, including Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism.
Teaching of RE may be a concern to some parents, especially in the multi-cultural, multi-faith society in which we live. Christianity retains its central place in religious education at St Mark's (two thirds of the RE curriculum). However, the major world faiths are also studied in all year groups (one third of the curriculum). The children are encouraged to consider many aspects of life in the light of Christ's teaching, and to translate theory into practice by taking part in projects to help the needy, both financially and in kind, and at home and abroad.
Children need to cooperate and share, understand that their behaviour affects others, learn to respect and rejoice in the cultural and religious diversity surrounding them, to respond with wonder to the work of nature and develop a positive attitude to life.
Details of the RE Curriculum can be accessed in the curriculum section of the website.