Chaplaincy

The Diocese of Salford’s School Chaplains’ Association was established in 2006 in response to the ever-increasing and demanding role the School chaplain plays not only in the school environment but also in the wider community. The Association represents all the interests of School chaplains. At present there are upwards of 20 members of the association spread throughout the Diocese and meetings are held on each half term.

Presently, the number of clergy and religious in Chaplaincy is decreasing while the number of graduates with theological and pastoral training entering “lay chaplaincy” work is increasing.

The lay chaplain is nominated by our bishop, and employed by the Governors of an individual school. At present a primary aim of the Association is the appointment of lay chaplains on a permanent basis in all high schools and colleges within the diocese.

The primary role of the school chaplain is to introduce pupils and staff to Jesus Christ. He or she works closely with all members of staff in carrying out this responsibility and also extends this to the local parish community. This role is wide and varied, ranging from organising retreats / prayer exercises for students, meeting students on an individual basis to taking an active part in all areas of school life.

The lay chaplains themselves follow a code of conduct, since the role is a professional one and a privileged responsibility.

We work closely with ACCE and with the Diocesan Department for Formation

School chaplaincy guidelines

1. Nature: Chaplaincy needs may be served by a variety of persons. School chaplaincies may mean individual lay persons, or a group co-ordinated by individual lay persons who may be either male or female. Prior to appointment, schools should draw up a school specific job description that sets out the duties of the post.

2. Appointment of chaplains: Whenever a school has a chaplaincy need, the head teacher is asked initially to contact Canon Tony McBride who, in the light of the facts presented to him, will discern and advise how best the school’s specific needs can be addressed.

3. The work of chaplains: Even though each school is unique and the chaplain’s / chaplaincy team’s strengths will vary, the core role of a chaplain is as follows:

  • To support the school in emphasising its spirituality and Catholicity as set out in the school’s mission statement;

  • To support and encourage the school’s pastoral care for the whole school, pupils, staff and parents;

  • To promote, plan and organise the celebration of liturgies and co-operate with others in developing the school as a Christian community;

  • To assist in developing an awareness amongst potential school leavers about the provisions of chaplaincy at institutions of higher and further education.

4. Identification of candidates for chaplaincy: In the first instance the Chaplaincy Co-ordinator will encourage a school to identify possible candidates for interview. If this proves difficult the Co-ordinator and the school are asked to do their best to explore other possibilities to meet the need for chaplaincy.

 5. Appointment of chaplains by schools: In order to recognise the responsibilities of the governing body in law the process of appointment shall be:

  • Chaplains are to be appointed by the governing body, but must be approved by the bishop or episcopal vicar.

  • The process of selection should involve formal interview under arrangements determined by the governing body. A representative of the Bishop – in most instances the Chaplaincy Co-ordinator – should be an invited member of the selection body. For the purposes of appointment the procedure shall be the same as for those for other senior appointments in Catholic schools, adopted by the governing body.

  • The appropriate line-manager for a chaplain is the Head teacher / Principal.

  • All newly-appointed chaplains should undergo a period of induction conducted by an experienced chaplain or the Diocesan Chaplaincy Co-ordinator.

6. Confidentiality: School chaplains have a unique relationship of trust with pupils and staff. Chaplains, in common with all others employed at a school, are bound by law regarding certain categories of information. However, schools will be aware of the professional code of ethics that, in certain circumstances, constrains personnel from medical or social services from divulging to others information gained in the course of discussion with pupils. It is right that similar constraints should also apply to school chaplains.

Some sensitive issues relating to the welfare of pupils will fall within child protection procedures.

The degree of confidentiality in child protection work is governed by the need to protect the pupil. If a pupil confides in a member of staff, including a school chaplain, it is important to explain to the pupil that he/she has a responsibility to refer cases of alleged abuse to the appropriate agencies on a need to know basis.

Pupils may share other sensitive information in confidence with a school chaplain and in these circumstances it is a matter of judgement for the chaplain as to whether or not it is in the best interests of the pupil to share this information with senior staff of the school or with others. It is therefore very important to advise chaplains not to promise total confidentiality to pupils when potentially sensitive matters are to be discussed. The over-riding principle in all these matters is the duty of care owed to the pupil by the school. The age of the pupil will almost certainly be a factor to be considered when deciding to inform other parties. However, parents and others have subordinate rights to be informed of matters affecting pupils. When faced with such difficulties, a chaplain should have access to advice on how to proceed either from within the school or from the Chaplaincy Co-ordinator.

7. In-service training and support: As part of the conditions of appointment a chaplain must agree to undertake to attend a minimum of one course a year as part of his / her in-service training.

8. Appraisal of performance: In monitoring the performance of chaplains, the head teacher may call upon the Diocesan Chaplaincy Co-ordinator to assist in the evaluation of performance and to give further advice on how chaplains can be supported.

9. Remuneration: Remuneration shall be determined by the governing body in accordance with the terms of the contract.