H I S T O R Y
Timeless Teachings in a Changing World
To write a history of 27 years of Bethany School in a short page is quite a challenge, but overcoming challenges is what this Bethany School is all about!
Back in 1986 a small group of parents got together and formed a steering committee with the aim of opening a Christian School in September 1987. Although there were teachers in the group none of us had ever done anything like this before. So, why did we think it was a good idea?
Basically, as Christian parents, we believed that God had given us the responsibility to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We believed that this mandate should not be limited to family prayers or Sunday School but should show our children that God is relevant to all areas of life, including education, an education that we wanted to be practically involved with.
At this time there was little Christian curriculum available to us, but we came across a Canadian curriculum called “Joy in Learning”. This summed up what we wanted for our children, a real joy as we taught them about the wonders of the world that God has made.
So, with less trepidation than we probably should have had, we opened Bethany School in September 1987. The 12 pupils, 1 paid teacher and parent helpers met in rented rooms in the YMCA in the Broomhall area of Sheffield.
The first year was interesting, enjoyable, challenging and tiring. The school was completely self-funded, and the families involved quickly learnt the meaning of sacrificial giving.
At the end of the first year the challenge increased. Our paid teacher informed us that he was leaving to home educate his children, we had a deficit in our budget, and the YMCA put up the rent to an amount we couldn’t afford. The school could have been finished almost before it properly began.
However, we firmly believed that this was God’s work and that He would show us the way. We were offered the use of the basement of Wycliffe Church on Hickmott Road. The mums covered the teaching and new families joined us. By Christmas we had employed a part-time primary teacher and been offered a home in the unused Sharrowvale church basement.
In January 1990 Ken Walze, one of our founding parents, decided to take a two-term sabbatical from his job as Head of Design & Technology at a local comprehensive school to work as a volunteer at Bethany. The fact that he remained at the school as Head Teacher until July 2014 shows that he never went back. This is something else that many have discovered after becoming involved in the school – it may be easy to get in, but it’s very hard to leave!
By the time we left Sharrowvale in 1992 we had around 35 pupils, being taught in 3 classes. We had begun to look into buying a building of our own where the school could continue to grow. However, this was not the right time and we were happy to accept an offer from Sheffield Chinese Christian Church to share their new premises on Ann’s Road in Heeley. We had a number of happy years there, although getting out and putting away the Infant classroom each weekend was a real frustration.
As we move through the history of Bethany, we see many examples of our God’s love and care for us as we have faced challenges and shared many joys and sorrows. This is certainly true of God’s provision of our current building on Finlay Street. Time will not allow details but we were able to buy and improve the facilities for the money that we had in the bank, a feat that had seemed very unlikely as other buildings that we looked at were way out of our price range. The move to Finlay Street in 2001 was accomplished thanks to many people serving the school in practical ways.
So, at the time of our 25th anniversary in 2012, we had 72 pupils, 9 paid staff and many volunteers. In 2007 we welcomed the first of our 2nd generation pupils, grandchildren to the original families, and in 2005 a former pupil became the first to return as a member of the teaching staff. Others have followed, with a number signing their children up, even before they are born. We have a history of excellent examination results and details of past pupils who have done well at A level, at University and in the workplace. We have had a number of successful inspections. We have seen work being done on the building, adding a mezzanine floor and a disabled access lift to the upper building. We will gladly accept future challenges knowing that God has been at the heart of all that has been achieved and that day-by-day we will continue to work for God's glory.