New Church of England plan to evangelise pupils who don’t even go to its schools

4 July, 2024

The Church of England announced yesterday new plans to target schools and colleges as part of its aim to grow congregation numbers. The programme, called the FLOURISH network, is a two-year pilot which will see 40 new ‘worshipping communities’ establish links with educational settings with the aim of engaging ‘a large number of children, young people, and their families’. That includes targeting schools of no religious character.

The FLOURISH pilot will take place in community (non-CofE) schools, Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs), and FE colleges, as well as Church of England schools. Last year the Church of England spent over £7 million on projects to evangelise children and young people through state schools. In 2023, a report by the Church of England set out its vision to ‘double the number of children and young people who are active Christian disciples by 2030’.

The two-year pilot will start in autumn 2024 and target schools and colleges across the dioceses of Bath and Wells, Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Derby, Lichfield, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Salisbury, Southwark, Southwell and Nottingham, and Truro. Training will be provided through the network to 200 ‘adult leaders’ and 800 ‘young leaders’.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Lewis Young said: 

‘The announcement of the FLOURISH network is yet further evidence of the Church of England’s agenda to use schools and colleges to target young people to grow its congregation numbers. But this time it’s reaching even beyond its faith schools.

‘Schools should be places where pupils receive an inclusive, balanced, and comprehensive education that enables them to think critically and make their own choices about their beliefs. They should not be used by the Church of England, or any other faith group, to convert young people.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 0203 675 0959.

Read more about our work on state-funded faith schools

Read how the CofE spent millions of pounds to evangelise children.

Read about the Church of England’s FLOURISH network

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.