Hundreds farewell ‘champion of Christian education’

Russell Powell
Read Hundreds farewell ‘champion of Christian education’

Hundreds of people have gathered at a funeral service for prominent Sydney layman John Lambert, the architect of a resurgence in building Anglican schools and a pioneer of the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation.

Mr Lambert, who lived in the Blue Mountains, died last week at the age of 78.

A veteran educator, Mr Lambert was the inaugural President of the New South Wales Board of Studies, serving from its establishment in 1990 until 1994. Previously he had a distinguished career with the NSW Department of School Education, where his roles included History inspector, regional director and finally Deputy Director-General. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Board of Studies, having been a member of the Committee of Review of NSW Schools chaired by Sir John Carrick, which recommended its creation in 1989.

From 1994 to 2009 Mr Lambert was the Director of Schools Development at the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation, during which he contributed significantly to the establishment of 12 new Anglican schools within the Diocese of Sydney. He also guided the establishment of 12 Anglican schools in other dioceses in NSW.

John Lambert (photo:Bostes)

His contribution to Christian education has been lauded by Archbishop Glenn Davies, with a tribute read out by Bishop Ivan Lee at the funeral at Christ Church, Springwood, on Monday 8th December.

"After almost a century of not establishing anything other than Grammar Schools, John Lambert almost single handedly, persuaded the Sydney Anglican Archbishop of the day that the Church should take advantage of new Federal Government funding and establish low-fee Anglican schools in areas of significant population growth." Dr Davies said.

"It was John Lambert's insight, innovation and tenacity that brought  together financial expertise, government funding knowledge, real estate experience, understanding of the building industry, and his own wealth of educational wisdom and experience to establish low fee Anglican schools with a distinctive Christian ethos. He was passionate. He was intelligent. He had extensive contacts in the key areas of establishing schools. He was a big picture person while being meticulous with details. He was persistent. He refused to give up when obstacles were put in his way. He was always on the lookout for future educational leaders. He recognised the importance of quality learning and convinced the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation to conduct five-yearly reviews of Corporation schools, which set standards for these low-fee schools that exceeded parental expectations."

"He maintained close contact with all the principals that he helped to appoint to run these schools.  He facilitated interaction between the school heads, chairs and the Corporation, a role that is now undertaken by the Anglican Education Commission. John's experience and reputation gave the Corporation a stature that it could not have otherwise had with government, the Board of Studies, the Department of Education and the teaching profession." Dr Davies said.

"John Lambert was a great champion for Christian education, a remarkable servant of Christ, and one who knew where he was going after death." the Archbishop said.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney also passed a motion of condolence to Mr Lambert's family and thanksgiving for him.

"This Standing Committee gives thanks to God for the life and ministry of John Lambert AM, particularly for his astounding efforts on behalf of Anglican schooling throughout this State." the Standing Committee said.

In moving the motion, Dr Laurie Scandrett, the CEO of the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation, described Mr Lambert's contribution to Anglican education in Sydney as 'a revolution'.

"I've rarely met a man who knew he was going to glory as much as John Lambert" said Dr Scandrett. "A great servant of the diocese has passed." 

Featured: File photo of students of Wollondilly Anglican College, one of the many schools with which Mr Lambert was involved. The School has a garden dedicated to him.