Bishop of Ely highlights access to high quality education for young people receiving mental health treatment


ElyOn the 20th February 2017, Lord Oates asked the Government “how many secondary schools in England do not currently provide in-school counselling services for their students.” The Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, asked a supplementary question.

Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, does the Minister agree that an excellent education in a medical setting for those with severe mental health issues is essential to their recovery? Will he join me in paying tribute to the importance of education in acute mental health settings, such as the Pilgrim Pupil Referral Units in Cambridgeshire, which provide a stable learning environment for children and young people? Continue reading

Bishop of Norwich welcomes Technical and Further Education Bill


norwich121016bOn 1st February 2017, the House of Lords debated the Government’s Technical and Further Education Bill at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd, Graham James welcomed its proposals.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, I am glad to add my voice to the chorus of welcome for the Bill—on these Benches we are professionally interested in choruses.

Those who read the City & Guilds report Sense & Instability, which was published just over a couple of years ago, will remember the bleak picture painted there of three decades of skills and employment policy. The authors pointed out—with a degree of sardonic humour, I think—that, in 30 years, there have been 13 major Acts of Parliament dealing with these issues, enough reports to fill a medium-sized bookcase, no fewer than 61 Ministers and 10 occasions when skills and employment have shifted between government departments. “Tinkering”, “amnesia” and “disruption” were among the milder terms employed in that very powerful report. Continue reading

Bishop of Ely highlights work of Church in promoting educational leadership


ElyOn the 30th January 2017, Baroness Donaghy asked the government “in the light of figures showing that nearly one-third of newly qualified teachers leave the profession within five years of qualifying, what steps they are taking, including continuing professional development entitlement, to retain them.” The Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, asked a follow-up question.

The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the working environment for teachers is so often determined by the quality and effectiveness of school leaders, and therefore it is essential to equip school leaders to ensure the flourishing of their staff as well as their pupils? Will he be pleased to note with me the launch this weekend of the Church’s Foundation for Educational Leadership to work in this field? Continue reading

Higher Education and Research Bill: Bishop of Portsmouth moves amendment on support for students with disabilities


portsmouth-180117-bOn 18th January 2016, the House of Lords considered the Government’s Higher Education and Research Bill in Committee. The Bishop of Portsmouth spoke to propose an amendment on behalf of the Bishop of Ely about giving special consideration for those with disabilities within the criteria for approving and reviewing student protection plans. The amendment was withdrawn after the debate, following encouragement from the Minister that the issue deserved greater inspection. Below is his speech and a section of the Minister’s reply.

The Lord the Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, my colleague and right reverend friend the Bishop of Ely is unable to be in his place, but has asked me to bring before your Lordships Amendment 134A. I and he welcome the Minister’s assurances thus far for disabled students. It is very welcome that he intends to publish guidance to ensure that higher education institutions are best able to fulfil their duties to disabled students.

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Bishop of Peterborough says education system should ‘encourage a love of learning, not a fear of failure’


14.02 PeterboroughOn 13th December, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Sharkey, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the United Kingdom’s performance in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment rankings published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development”. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough My Lords, is the Minister aware that, in a number of the countries that have much higher academic standards at secondary school level, particularly those in the Far East—I know the story of South Korea quite well—there is also a much higher suicide rate among teenagers? Does he agree that our schools need to help people learn in ways that they enjoy and are healthy holistically, and that schools should encourage a love of learning rather than a fear of failure?

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Higher Education and Research Bill: Bishop of Winchester on universities, providing “a public good for the common good”


On 6th December 2016, the Government’s Higher Education and Research Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Winchester and lead Church of England bishop for HE, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, spoke during the debate on the Bill.

winchester171116The Lord Bishop of Winchester My Lords, I declare my interests as a visitor to five Oxford colleges and the governor of Winchester University. I thank both the Minister for Universities and Science and the noble Viscount, Lord Younger, for meeting me to discuss some of the core issues concerning the Bill. I say, too, that I look forward to hearing the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Sugg.

The positive aim of this Bill is clear: to enhance our world-class higher education system. In particular, I welcome the potential of proposed changes: putting students at the heart of the system through the Office for Students; emphasising the importance of good teaching; encouraging new providers and innovation; and a more interdisciplinary approach to research. It is also encouraging to hear that the Government are listening to concerns and are willing to amend the regulatory framework to take account of points raised. Continue reading

Bishop of Ely highlights role of church schools in fostering shared values


On the 2nd December 2016 the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway spoke in a debate led by the Archbishop of Canterbury on shared values and their implications for public policy making. The Bishop of Ely spoke about the importance of character education in developing values and the role played by church schools in fostering good links between children of all faiths and none.

ElyThe Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, I thank my friend the most reverend Primate for securing this timely and essential debate. I applaud the noble Lord, Lord McInnes, on his excellent speech, not least on drawing together our concern for values with opportunity for our children and young people. When we talk about British values, we should be aiming not at the lowest common denominator but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, said, at the highest ideals that we want to promote for and with our children.

Character education is all set to be the foundation for the kind of person we want each child to become: a member of society who not only understands the world, but cares about it, is equipped to continue in the good and recognise and challenge the bad and is courageous enough to bridge divides and extend the hand of friendship. The Church of England vision for education actively seeks to provide an education that fosters this. Character education is about educating children not only to become efficient economic units, but to flourish in all areas of their lives, and enjoy life in all its fullness, as Jesus says in the Gospel of John. Fundamental to this is the nurturing of virtues as the intrinsic building blocks of a rounded human life with concrete outcomes in behaviour and service. St Paul takes the life of virtue beyond what had previously been categorised when he wrote in the Letter to the Galatians about the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.