Celebrations at Graffham school

Children assembled in St Giles Church PICTURE BY GRAHAM FRANKS
Children assembled in St Giles Church PICTURE BY GRAHAM FRANKS

GRAFFHAM School is celebrating a landmark occasion after reverting back to its historical roots in being awarded Church of England status.

Pupils welcomed VIPs along to celebrate with them, in the form of MP Nick Herbert and the Rt Rev Dr Martin Warner, bishop of Chichester, who officially opened Graffham Infants School as a Church of England voluntary controlled school.

It opened in the early 1830s as a church school, but the status disappeared in 1914 when West Sussex County Council took control.

For the past four years, governors have been working to revert back to that status and after numerous consultations and legal hurdles, this was finally achieved on April 1.

Nick Herbert said: “I was delighted to join this special day for the school.

“It is unusual for a school to be converted to a Church of England school, and the regaining of this status 100 years after it was lost made for a remarkable and memorable occasion.”

With permission from secretary of state for education Michael Gove, it closed as a community school at midnight on March 31 and reopened as a CofE school on Tuesday, April 1.

Graffham Infants School is part of the Lavington Park Federation which links it to Duncton Junior CofE School.

The conversion means both now have Church of England status in a move that was originally proposed by the diocese of Chichester.

Students, parents and members of the community joined in a processional service from the church of St Giles to the school and everyone was given a ‘thinking cross’ made from olive wood and a certificate designed by parents to mark the occasion.

The congregation walked across to the school for the second official part of the service, where the bishop blessed the building and children.

The whole group then moved outside for the final prayers, songs and the bishop’s blessing.

After the formal ceremony, families and children enjoyed a cake baked specially for the event, dyed green and purple to reflect the school colours.