The role of the school chaplain has a long history and although no specific mention is made of chaplaincy in the Bible or other faith books, it plays an important part in the work of Christians and other faiths.

Chaplains provide spiritual comfort and support across the school community, at times in challenging and demanding situations.

The chaplain has to be a listener, an advisor, a counsellor, an administrator, a befriender, a leader, an enabler, an organiser of acts of worship, and work within a lively and largely youthful community of all faiths and none.

School Chaplaincy is a very practical ministry, at times working in teams of different faith groups, and is sometimes the main ethos behind the work of local churches as they ‘serve their local school’. Scripture Union, other Christian denominations and churches also have chaplains or schools workers.

Relationship with head teachers

School chaplains exist at the invitation of the head teacher of the school. A chaplain has no statutory right to enter a school. The responsibility for the appointment of any chaplain and the role that they play in a given school lies ultimately with the head teacher. A head teacher’s own religious belief should be respected; they should not be asked, or expected, to compromise them.

Time for Reflection

Time for Reflection is a comprehensive handbook for school chaplains and all with responsibility for ensuring the spiritual development of children and young people.

Framed within Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence, and grounded in academic research, new and experienced chaplains everywhere will find Time for Reflection an invaluable guide.

It offers clear and essential guidance on a wide variety of topics: guidelines on appointing chaplains; codes of conduct; chaplaincy and pastoral care; chaplaincy and crisis support; and more.

Useful Links

Historical links with schools

The Church has a historic commitment to education and schooling. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1560 called for a school in every parish, to enable every person to read and write.

Schools, which were paid for by the Church and local landowners, were established in all rural parishes and burghs by an Act of Privy Council of 1616, ratified by the Parliament of Scotland with the Education Act of 1633. Educational establishments were run by the Church of Scotland and were open to all boys and girls regardless of social status.

The 1872 Education Scotland Act laid the basis for the modern education system and vested all authority over schools with the civil authority. However the need for school’s to continue religious instruction was outlined in a Preamble to this Act subject to the operation of a conscience clause which gave “liberty to parents, without forfeiting any of the other advantages of schools, to elect that their children should not receive such instruction”.