Bishop of Durham speaks on amendments to Schools Bill

On 8th June 2022, the House of Lords debated the Government’s Schools Bill (HL) in its first day in committee. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate, on amendments to the first clause:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I have to declare my interest as chair of the National Society, which oversees Church of England schools, although obviously they are all devolved around each diocesan board. I also apologise that I cannot be here for days two and three in Committee. I have a long-standing family holiday booked, and my marriage and parenthood are more important. I assure noble Lords that things will be covered by other Members on these Benches.

I have been told clearly by Members of this House that I should be very concerned about Clause 1, and indeed Clauses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and so on. Because of the nature of the people who have expressed those concerns, I listened very carefully. However, in principle I am persuaded that the move towards full academisation warrants the Secretary of State being given some additional powers. I disagree with a large number here: I think the direction of travel is abundantly clear. It is full academisation. If that is the direction of travel, we need to ensure that system is appropriately covered.

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Queen’s Speech 2016: Bishop of Ely responds on academies, RE, universities and skills

Research done already on the implications of what has been said by Ministers is that academisation will proceed very fully. The think tank CentreForum suggests that only about 3,000 free-standing schools might be left that are not academised in the future. I am concerned that we do not end up with thousands of outstanding schools going it alone. We need to ensure that all strong schools, in MATs or otherwise, support schools that are struggling. There is no way of flourishing that does not take in support for others.

Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2016: Bishop of Ely responds on academies, RE, universities and skills”

Education and Adoption Bill – Bishop of Ely welcomes Government assurances on church school ethos and academy conversion

On 16th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Education and Adoption Bill at Report Stage. Ther Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, spoke during debate on amendments to clause 7 of the Bill on the Secretary of State’s duty to make Academy orders where a school is judged to be failing. The Bishop supported the Government’s position.

14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 2The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, I am very keen to support the idea of effective communication with our parents, not least about the ethos and character of schools, given that they have a deep effect. We see in the good key stage 2 results this last year the impact of character and ethos on effective academic results. Our parents are really keen to ensure that in any change of school, its ethos and character are maintained and that that is effectively communicated to them by any academy proprietor.

I had submitted my own amendment, which I have now withdrawn because I am content, following conversation with the Minister, that he agrees that ethos and character can be maintained and should be safeguarded effectively. I understand that parents around the country want, of course, to have even more say in what happens, but consider that church schools, in particular, have something significant to offer in relation not only to academic performance and ethos but future guarantees of religious literacy in the way in which our country is served. Continue reading “Education and Adoption Bill – Bishop of Ely welcomes Government assurances on church school ethos and academy conversion”

Bishop of Birmingham takes part in debate on autonomy and accountability of educational institutions

01.04.14 Bishop of BirminghamOn 24th June 2014, Baroness Perry of Southwark led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the appropriate balance between the autonomy and the accountability of educational institutions. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, took part in the debate and spoke of his involvement in the investigation of allegations of mis-management in schools in Birmingham. The Bishop told the House how autonomy and accountability have been reconciled in Birmingham through setting up a diocesan board of education trust which has published an academies accountability framework. The Bishop argued for local and trusted arrangements to be developed, which are trusted by pupils, staff and parents, by the whole community and the Secretary of State.


The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to address the topic of autonomy and accountability in our educational institutions, particularly in our schools. As noble Lords can imagine, coming from Birmingham, this is a very pertinent topic. We are experiencing a perfect storm of anonymous allegations. Birmingham City Council is conducting various investigations, of which I am a part, into those allegations. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham takes part in debate on autonomy and accountability of educational institutions”

Academy Chains & Inspection: Bishop of Chester Question

Baroness Hughes of Stretford asked Her Majesty’s Government, following the decision to remove 10 academies from the E-ACT Academy chain, what action they are taking to ensure that other chains are managing schools satisfactorily.

The Bishop of Chester asked a supplementary question.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I should like to return to the issue of inspection. In as much as the multichain bodies are involved in the governance of all the academies in their chain, and Ofsted inspects governance, why does Ofsted not also inspect the chains themselves?

Lord Nash: Ofsted looks at the support that chains are giving to their schools, and we have a very tight grip on the governance of all the chains. We have been in discussions with 50 chains to strengthen their governance arrangements


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