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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Archbishop visits Alleyn's School, Dulwich

Friday 10th June 2011

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, visited Alleyn's School, an independent co-educational day-school serving a broad community in south-east London. The school has a total of around 1250 pupils aged 4-18.

The Chaplain, the Revd Anthony Buckley, met the Archbishop on arrival and introduced him to Headmaster Dr Gary Savage and Chair of Governors Lord Kakkar.  Two senior students then took the Archbishop on a tour of the school, which included a preview of the impressive GCSE art exhibition being installed at the time. The Archbishop visited several Year 7 classes and saw Music, Drama, English, History and Maths in action. 

Mathematics class at Alleyn's School


He was also able to meet the younger pupils during their lunchtime break.  The children, unable to play outside because of the rain, gathered instead around the Archbishop for an impromptu question and answer session.

Junior School students at Alleyn's


A slightly more formal question and answer session took place with senior students in the Robert Lawrie Lecture Theatre. The questions were interesting and covered a wide range of topics, including the origins of the Archbishop's Christian faith, the relationship between being religious and being good, what it means to "find favour with God",  the value of faith versus behaviour, and the nature of failure and success.

Question and answer session at Alleyn's School

On the question of what he liked best about being Archbishop, Dr Williams said "My favourite thing is the variety - it really isn't ever dull. And there is the huge privilege of meeting people at important moments of their lives, which is true for any vicar or priest."    He also referred to his forthcoming trip to Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo and said how fortunate he had been to travel to places like Sudan, Burundi, China, India and Pakistan to see what life is like for church people and other people at grass roots level.  

Asked about Religious Education in schools, he said "I think the most important part of Religious Education is helping you understand why people get excited about religion - not just understanding the ideas, but getting some notion of why people are passionate about it."  He said "I'd always want to point to the great art that religion inspires and say, people did that - Leonardo painted the Last Supper, Bach wrote the St Matthew Passion - because they were yearning to get that excitement out into the open.  A good religious education is one that gives you a  flavour of what it means to be excited in that way." 

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