Children are a gift from God. The Bible instructs parents to nurture their children in the fear of the Lord. Parents have a great responsibility to bring up their children in such a way as to prepare them for life and for godliness. Family practices and involvement in the wider body of Christ “train children in the way they should go.” God’s blessing passes down through the generations of their faithful families.
A pivotal choice Christian families will make is – how will our children be educated? Historically the role of education rested primarily within the family. Over time agencies outside the family have taken up aspects of the education role. In 21st Century New Zealand families can choose to home school, or delegate some responsibility for the education of their children to schools outside the family (private, state-integrated, state). We are blessed in this nation to have such a choice.
If a parent is to delegate some responsibility for their education to agencies outside the family, then to whom and what basis?
The writer recalls the privilege of speaking at the funeral of Don Laugeson (co-founder of the Christian Schools’ Trust, CST) in March 2004. Don and others had a vision for Christian schooling option for parents. Such a school would be non-denominational in character and would combine Biblical teaching in the Christian faith with a first-rate general education. The school would take seriously its role to act under a delegated authority of parents, honouring the Biblical principle that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children. Don and others acted upon that vision and bought into being the CST, thereby providing a godly option for parents in choosing how their children would be educated.
According to the Trust Deed, signed in October 1963, the purposes for which the Trust was established are:
- To uphold, maintain and propagate the Christian faith as set out in the Holy Scriptures.
- To maintain a school, or schools, for the education of the young and to include in the scheme of such education instruction in the Christian faith as set out in the Holy Scriptures.
Trustees of the CST have the great privilege and responsibility of being stewards of a vision for Christian schooling.
An account of the founding of the CST is given in the Middleton Grange Story. The account covers the birthing of the vision in prayer, the formation of the Trust, the purchase of land for Middleton Grange School, the appointment of the first Principal (Mr Peter Chignell) and the beginnings of the private school.
The school grew rapidly and by the late 1960’s the secondary school had been established and extensive building undertaken.
In 1996, after years of prayer and deliberation the CST started to enter into negotiations to become a state-integrated school. Integration ushered in huge changes, including a significant reduction in fees making Christian education more affordable. Concerns over how the school’s Christian character may be compromised under integration have not materialised. However, the CST needs to remain vigilant and committed in its reliance on God for all things.
In August 2003 Christchurch Christian Schools’ Network was established, with Middleton Grange School a foundation member. The Network, and Middleton Grange School in particular, were instrumental in assisting Canterbury Christian College through a difficult season. As a result measures were put in place to assist Canterbury Christian College, the CST became the Proprietor of Aidanfield Christian School (the new name for Canterbury Christian College) in 2010. The previous Proprietor (The Kings Christian Schools’ Trust) continues as a land trust and is involved in the appointment of proprietor representatives to the Aidanfield Christian School Board of Trustees.
In February 2009 the CST provided assistance to establish Ashburton Christian School as a private Christian School. In 2009 it applied to integrate. The school became integrated July 2011 under the proprietorship of CST. In 2012 the school received the wonderful news that the Minister of Education had approved a change of class to enrol year 9 and 10 pupils in 2013.
In 2010 the CST appointed Mark Larson as its first Chief Executive Officer. This appointment reflects the growing scope of the CST’s educational activities.
Late in 2012 the CST advised the Crown it intends to establish a 300 pupil State Integrated Primary School ( Years 1-6 ) in Rolleston as early as 2015.This application was successful and the school opened in early February 2015.
The CST also owns and operates two early childhood centres at Aidanfield Christian School and Middleton Grange School.