The chaplain is available as a pastoral support and confidential listening ear for staff, pupils and parents and nurtures spirituality and religious and philosophical reflection within the school, as well as leading our collective worship in chapel.
The Revd. Stuart Labran was a teacher before preparing for ordination in the Church of England. Prior to ordination, he gained a wealth of pastoral experience as a Director of Boarding and Assistant Head of Sixth Form and later served as the Curate of Stratford-Upon-Avon in the church where William Shakespeare is buried. He later returned to teaching, first at James Allen’s Girl’s School and now as Chaplain of Emanuel School. He is also an Assistant Priest of St John the Divine Church Kennington, where he is involved in their social outreach work and is a Foundation Governor of St Gabriel’s College (an 11-16 comprehensive school). He read Theology at Leeds and Cambridge.
Staff and pupils of differing faiths to Christianity
The chaplain facilitates prayer for members of other faiths by organising a prayer space for them or arranging counsel from a minister of their own religion (in cooperation with parents and in accordance with the school’s safeguarding and visiting speaker policy). Religious Studies provides an opportunity to learn more about a variety of faiths and the Life Education programme provides the opportunity to explore secular ideas and practices such as mindfulness.
Religious background of the school and current day situation
Founded in 1594, Emanuel School was founded by Lady Dacre as an Anglican Christian foundation to provide education within a Christian ethos. Originally the wardens (headmasters) of the school were Anglican priests and when this ceased to be the case, the role of the chaplain was created. The presence of a chaplain in the school today, licenced by the Bishop of Southwark, along with chapel worship in its various forms, represents a continuity with that foundation.
The religious and spiritual life of London has changed very much since Lady Dacre’s day and this is reflected by our pupil and staff body which is made up of people of varying faiths and of no faith. However, Emanuel continues to acknowledge its Christian heritage and use this as a framework for promoting equality and diversity, and the promotion of fundamental British values, the rule of law and individual liberty.
Spiritual and religious reflection in school
The opportunity to reflect collectively on ultimate questions of meaning and faith, and consideration of moral issues, is an important part of each pupil’s educational experience and personal development. This takes place in several contexts including Religious Studies, Life Education, chapel services and co-curricular discussion and debating clubs. Emanuel recognises that all members of the community, whether religious or not, are on a journey, which may be seen as spiritual, towards an ever-deepening self-awareness of who they are and of their place in the world.
Collective worship at Emanuel
The school chapel stands at the physical centre of the school and pupils attend once each week in Years 6-9 and fortnightly in all other years. Services usually consist of a hymn, an address by the chaplain or another member of staff, prayers, an anthem sung by the chapel choir and a blessing.
Major occasions in the school’s life are marked by special services, using Westminster Abbey (every five years), St Luke’s Clapham, and St Mark’s Battersea at key points in the school year. It is hoped that school services make an important contribution to pupil’s cultural experience whilst enriching their overall school experience.
Every effort is made to ensure that each student and staff member can take something of relevance from the addresses given in chapel, regardless of their faith or beliefs.
Further opportunities for worship and spiritual reflection
Beyond the regular school services, optional opportunities for prayer and worship are also available. Occasional prayer groups are held and Holy Communion is celebrated approximately eight times per year on significant days in the school and church’s calendar and on staff inset days. There is a parent’s prayer group which meets monthly in term-time to pray for the needs and wellbeing of the school community. The school chapel is also available for baptisms, weddings and funerals (although these are rare).
Opportunities for spiritual counsel
The chaplain is not only available to listen to people’s pastoral concerns but is also available for spiritual counsel and prayer to those members of the community who may want to discuss spiritual matters privately. Pupils also have the opportunity to prepare for the sacrament of Confirmation at Emanuel and a group is usually run.