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17 October 2014

New Christian free school celebrates success

New Christian free school celebrates success

Emmanuel Community School is celebrating its first year in an independent building, with 90 pupils, a brilliant first Ofsted report and the success of building a free school based on Christian values.

Church members of Emmanuel Christian Centre (ECC) in Walthamstow, who a vision to make a difference in the community through education, thanked the Alliance and Assemblies of God for their support as they established the school from scratch over the last two years.

ECC had taken the time to look specifically at the needs in their area and pray into how they could be more practical in helping the community. Alongside feeding the homeless and providing shelter and job advice, providing good education was high on the agenda.

Mrs Titilayo Oluwatudimu, a long-standing church member and now the director of education to The Emmanuel School Trust said: "My dream was that, as Christians, we would make a difference within our community. My idea, as a teacher, was to input Christian values daily into a school and enhance learning for each child. I want them to understand that they are special and are created in the image of God and that this translates to the way they are taught."

"Our core values include love, courage and forgiveness. God is not just a reality in church but he can also be a Monday to Friday reality."

As previous vice chair of the children and youth commission of ACEA (African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance), Mrs Oluwatudimu first found her passion for children and young people through that work and at an Alliance Faith in the Future conference in 2000.

In 2011, the group applied to the Department for Education to set up a Christian-designate school, based on the Alliance basis of faith and the backing of ECC and Assemblies of God, who all helped embed the values in the new school. The Alliance enabled advertising for the right headteacher. Emmanuel Christian Centre supports the school not just in prayers, but in volunteering. Emmanuel School was approved to open 1 September 2012, but used the ECC church hall for the first year until a permanent site was found and refurbished for September 2013.

Comments in the Ofsted report include: "Outstanding leadership by the headteacher, leaders and governors has established a good school within a short time," and "Pupils make good progress from starting points, which are often well below those typically found. Progress is improving rapidly as a result of the good teaching pupils receive." The Ofsted report also states: "Provision for pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is excellent. It is embedded in the subjects taught and in the ethos of the school," and "The school is a caring and nurturing place in which pupils behave well and get on well with each other. Pupils and adults care for and respect each other."

Mrs Oluwatudimu added: "Thank you for walking the journey with us so far and for your support and prayers. Basing our school on Biblical principles and the tenets of Faith as stated by the Evangelical Alliance and the Assemblies of God has helped in making our Christian values clear to the various organisations we work with.

"It is important that we have a community focus and an emphasis that it is open to every child in Walthamstow, regardless of faith or background. We are working hard and trusting God that we can show that the Christian faith can work and we can provide excellence. We look forward to being an outstanding school in every area and shining the light of the Gospel in our community."

The school concluded in a recent letter to parents: "We have outstanding children at our school and we are very proud of them. They can be pleased to read Ofsted's report and to know that their excellent approach to school has been acknowledged. With such fantastic children and a strong school community we know that, by God's grace, Emmanuel Community School will go from strength to strength."

Waltham Forest Guardian report on Emmanuel Community School