Bishop of Ely on the need for schools to tackle deprivation and disadvantage

On Thursday 16th November 2017 Lord Bird led a debate in the House of Lords, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what new resources and strategies they will implement to ensure that every child has the opportunity to attend a good school and that all schools are fairly funded, as announced in the Queen’s Speech.” The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, spoke in the debate, focusing on church schools:

The Lord Bishop of Ely: Follow that! My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for having made this debate possible and for providing the opportunity for us to focus not only on a fair distribution of funding for our schools and the children in their care but on fair access to good teaching in good and imaginative schools.

The Church has, down the centuries, provided a constant yet adaptable force in education. The Church of England recently produced a new vision for education, two pillars of which are dignity and hope. As the ultimate aim of our schools is to promote human flourishing, we are particularly concerned—particularly in our emphasis on supporting schools in areas of disadvantage—to enable every child to fulfil his or her aspirations, and indeed to be given the opportunity to have any aspirations in the first place. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely on the need for schools to tackle deprivation and disadvantage”

Bishop of Ely highlights importance of cathedrals to their communities

On 15th November 2017 Lord Beith asked Her Majesty’s Government “when they expect to receive the report of the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review, which was announced in 2016.” The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, for his intervention, Lincoln having recently won a favourite cathedral award—Ely is not too bad either. Of course, these churches, cathedrals and chapels are part of our shared heritage, but does the Minister agree that even more important is the work undertaken by cathedrals and churches in food banks, in supporting economic regeneration and in working with homeless people and the lonely, especially in remote parts of the country? Does he agree that the Government should endorse that work and will he encourage the way in which they can support it through the use and deployment of these buildings? Continue reading “Bishop of Ely highlights importance of cathedrals to their communities”

Bishop of Ely calls for diversity and not profit to be guiding principle in new housing provision

On 14th November 2017 Lord Naseby asked Her Majesty’s Government “what work they have undertaken to plan for another generation of New Towns”. The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, plans for new towns must include a wide range of different kinds of housing to enable all people to access decent, affordable homes. Developers often wish to build large, four or five-bedroom houses—unsurprisingly, as they make the most profit—but families, couples and single-person households need very different kinds of properties. How are Her Majesty’s Government planning to ensure that a wide range of housing sizes and tenures will be provided in these new developments? Continue reading “Bishop of Ely calls for diversity and not profit to be guiding principle in new housing provision”

Bishop of Ely on importance of life skills and character education

On 29th June 2017 the House of Lords held the final day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, spoke in the debate about countering extremism and the importance of character education.

The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, like many in this House, I am sure, the events of the past few weeks have been very much on my heart and in my prayers, and in the aftermath of the terror attacks in London and Manchester, it is unsurprising that the Government have placed such an emphasis on counterterrorism and counterextremism measures in the gracious Speech. The Government are right to look at reviewing specific measures to tackle extremism and the places where extremist ideology is able to spread, but stopping extremist ideology where it already exists cannot be all that we do. Although we in this House may divide debates into topics and the Government into departments, as we know, in reality society is not just a series of policy areas, it is a rich fabric of connected life experiences of which education is formative for all. Its value in developing and defining the kind of society we want to become should never be underestimated. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely on importance of life skills and character education”

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

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 “Bishop of Ely highlights work of Church in promoting educational leadership”

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.