A BASINGSTOKE infants has joined the growing family of schools affiliated by the Church of England.

Marnel Community Infant School, in Shetland Road, Popley joined the Church of England Affiliated Schools scheme yesterday, in a ceremony attended by the Right Reverend David Williams, the Bishop of Basingstoke.

The school has forged strong links with the local parish church, St Gabriel’s, in Tewkesbury Close, and its affiliation with the Church of England shows that it identifies, embraces and promotes Christian values.

It will foster links with the local Anglican community, strengthening the existing relationship it enjoys with St Gabriel’s and receive access to the support, services and activities provided by the Dioceses of Portsmouth and Winchester Education Department.

Revered Arthur Botham, vicar of St Gabriel’s Church, said: “We are, as a parish church, thrilled that this new partnership brings us even closer together as we seek the common good of our community.”

Susan Cox, headteacher at Marnel, added: “We’re delighted to be taking this momentous step of affiliation to the Dioceses of Portsmouth in Winchester.

"As our school grows, this demonstrates the commitment we have to all aspects of our students’ development and well-being.

"In partnership with the church, our school has a very bright future, and I’m looking forward to working with the diocese as we expand.”

Rev Williams, who unveiled a commemorative plaque at the school last week said: “I was delighted to have been invited to welcome the school, its teachers, staff and students into our family of church schools.

"This acknowledges the close ties that exist between the school and the Anglican community here in Basingstoke.

"I know that this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership that will be of great benefit to the children of this school and the community it serves for years to come.”

The Bishop was given a tour of the school, and blessed the expanding facilities of what is soon to be the largest infant school in north Hampshire.