Almost three years ago, in issue 4 of the Salford Star, we questioned the motivation of the Oasis Trust in running our kids' schools as we discovered that the organisation was running adverts for its Oasis Enfield Academy which stated "It is vital…that our staff own our Christ-centred ethos and the values which flow from it" and "We are looking for a Principal…who owns Oasis' Christian ethos…"
It all seemed a bit odd for a `non faith' school. We interviewed the Trust's head and leader of church.co.uk, Steve Chalke who assured us that Oasis was not following an evangelical agenda, saying that "our Christian faith is what motivates us and drives us forward, it's not what we expect of anyone else…"
He told us to go talk to Salford City Council which we did, and the then Director of Children's Services, Jill Baker, said "The staff don't have to buy into Christ…My understanding is that you don't even have to be a Christian to be the Principal, let alone a member of staff…"
Cut to the beginning of 2010 when an advert appeared for a new principal, following the departure for the exotic climes of St Helens by award winning head, David Terry.
The Information Pack for Candidates states:
`There will be a clear expectation that the person appointed as Principal of an Oasis Academy will be able to demonstrate their commitment to the Oasis values and behaviours which are the outworking of the Christian Ethos which underpins the wider work of Oasis and which is set out in the Education Charter'.
And a little further down it adds "We are motivated by the life, message and example of Jesus Christ…"
The Information Pack does also state that Oasis is into "Never imposing our Christian beliefs on others but seeking to behave in a Christ-like way with everyone…"
In 2008's issue 8 of the Salford Star we quoted Oasis head, Steve Chalke preaching at the Central Salford Church on the Quays (also part of the Oasis `family')…
"The good news of Jesus Christ is the good news that needs bringing to everyone, all of the time, in every area of their lives" he said "It begins in Hope and soon…we will end up with a church which is also a school…a school that is also a church…
"The good news of Jesus" he continued "is good news spiritually, emotionally…educationally, which is why we're opening the school…"
Meanwhile, between the 26th and 28th February, the `non faith' Oasis Academy in Enfield is to host the Faithworks Conference 2010, at which Steve Chalke is one of the main speakers. Faithworks, also in the Oasis `family', is about `building whole communities' through `360 degree engagement' with a "biblical mandate"…
Now, before the pitchforks come out, Salford Star has no problem with all this at all. Except that it's being done under the umbrella of a `non faith' school….