The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, spoke about the importance of communities and cultures coming together, and praised the intercultural emphasis at St. Jerome’s Bilingual School in Harrow during the official school opening and celebration ceremony.
During the visit, the Bishop was shown the new school hall and given a tour of the new facilities at St. Jerome’s. The Holy Trinity School Northwood Choir, partner school with St. Jerome’s, opened the service singing while guests entered the School Hall. The Mayor of Harrow then gave a short welcoming speech followed by a reading by Liz Walton, Head of School.
The Bishop addressed those assembled with a speech emphasising the importance of welcoming those of different cultures, particularly during trying times, and commending the school for its commitment to opening its doors to the local community, before officially opening the school and unveiling the school plaque. St. Jerome pupils then joined the Holy Trinity School choir to sing a song of blessing in English and French before the Bishop closed the ceremony with a bilingual prayer and blessing.
St. Jerome Church of England Bilingual School welcomed children of Reception age for the first time on 7 September 2016, and was three times oversubscribed on opening. The school teaches the English national curriculum with additional focus on the children learning French and learning in French. Their vision is to provide an outstanding Church of England primary school education and to extend the opportunity for an excellent bilingual education beyond the private sector.
St. Jerome Church of England Bilingual School believes a Christian ethos and a multi-cultural, multi-lingual approach go hand in hand. The Bishop of London praised this approach during his address and spoke of the importance of promoting integration amongst all people, particularly during such turbulent times.
The Revd Daniel Norris, Executive Head of St Jerome Church of England Bilingual School, said: “We were thrilled to welcome the Bishop of London to the official opening of St. Jerome’s School and agree wholeheartedly with his conviction that it is now more important than ever to bring people of different cultures together. It was also a special moment for myself as the Bishop ordained me two years ago so it was a real privilege to be able to show him the work we have achieved here during that time. We will be building on the successes achieved at Holy Trinity CE Primary School in Northwood to bring an outstanding Church of England primary school to the heart of the community of Harrow. We want our children to be confident in their own identity and feel connected to the local, national and international community to which they belong.”
Housed in what was previously Wickes contact centre, the school has been undergoing a transformation since January 2016 to turn it into a brand new school. St. Jerome’s was the idea of a group of parents, who approached the London Diocesan Board for Schools to see if they could be supported in their plans to open a Christian bilingual school in the area. Mr Norris, who was a part-time advisor in the diocese, agreed to participate in the project.
Bilingual education experts from Cambridge University’s department of applied linguistics helped devise the curriculum, and Harrow School has offered regular classroom help from teachers and senior pupils. The new school will address some of the school places shortfall in Harrow, and becomes only the second CofE primary school in the borough. 80 per cent of places are open to pupils who live locally, with the other 20 per cent going to local children who attend a Christian church.