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I had submitted my own amendment, which I have now withdrawn because I am content, following conversation with the Minister, that he agrees that ethos and character can be maintained and should be safeguarded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 Ely asks Government about academy conversions and church land

On 14th December Baroness Pinnock asked the Government “whether, if a faith school is rated inadequate and is required to become an academy, they will enforce the transfer of church land to the academy trust.” The Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Steven Conway, asked a follow-up question.


14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 1The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, can the Minister expand on the nature and character of the safeguards being provided, given that the prime issue around this land is not the land itself but that it has been given by parishes and generations of generous citizens to guarantee the religious character of those schools? Continue reading “Bishop of Ely asks Government about academy conversions and church land”

Bishop of Ely defends freedom of speech in universities

“If we allow the dominant agenda to become the refusal to be exposed to being offended, we deny ourselves the rich opportunity to be agents of the transformation of conflict through positive engagement.”–  Bishop of Ely, 26/11/5

On 26th November 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from  Baroness Deech: “That this House takes note of the protection of freedom of speech in universities.” The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, spoke in the debate:

14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 1The Lord Bishop of Ely: I, too, take the opportunity to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, for bringing this debate about. I would be very glad to engage in metaphysical conversation with the noble Lord, Lord Patten, about the soul of the university sometime outside the Chamber. I am more concerned for us to promote and understand the importance of religious literacy in the defence of free speech, and the Church’s engagement with a number of institutions in seeking to make the most of the Prevent agenda without throwing aside openness and readiness to engage in full debate. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely defends freedom of speech in universities”

Bishop of Ely highlights role of church schools during Lords debate on Education and Adoption Bill

“We are committed to excellence and parents choose Church of England schools because of the broad and rounded education they provide… I urge the Minister and his officials and his officials to ensure that clear protocols and their consistent application are used to support the continued partnership between church and state as providers of education.” – Bishop of Ely, 20/10/15

14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 1On 20th October 2015 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Education and Adoption Bill. The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, who is chair of the Church of England’s Board of Education, spoke about the work of church schools in character education. He also underlined the commitment of the church to helping improve standards through collaborative work between church schools, diocesan bodies and multi-academy trusts. The text of his speech and the minister’s response is below.


The Lord Bishop of Ely:
The Church of England is firmly committed to delivering outstanding education that promotes academic excellence, together with the development of the whole child. I welcome all that has already been said about any approach to metrics in education to take a holistic view strongly into account.

I have already spoken in this House about the importance of character education. Last week, the Church of England launched a new discussion paper, on character education in schools, at a conference that was attended by teachers, school leaders and many people involved. The point was our doing this in partnership with the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, so that the work we are seeking to do in this area is of interest not just to those of us in the church but looks at how we can take a holistic approach to the education of the whole child across the maintained education service. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely highlights role of church schools during Lords debate on Education and Adoption Bill”

Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 – speech by Bishop of Carlisle

14.06.09 Bishop of CarlisleOn 24th February 2015 the House of Lords considered a Motion to Approve the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015, alongside a Motion from Lord Deben not to approve the Regulations but to set up a Joint Committee of Parliament to consider the issues in more detail. 

The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Rev James Newcome, spoke during the debate, setting out his own position and that of the Church of England on the question of Mitochondrial Donation (also known as ‘three parent babies’). 

Earl Howe  concluded the debate on behalf of the government. An extract from his remarks can also be found below.

Concluding the debate, Lord Deben put his amendment to a vote, which was defeated: Contents 48; Not-Contents 280. The Bishops of Carlisle, Ely, St Albans and Worcester voted in favour of the amendment by Lord Deben. The Bishop of Norwich voted against the amendment. The Bishop of Bristol abstained. Continue reading “Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 – speech by Bishop of Carlisle”

Bishop of Ely takes part in debate on education reform

On 29th January 2015, the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, took part in Baroness Perry of Southwark’s take note debate in the House of Lords on the progress of the Government’s school reforms. The Bishop, who recently took over the role of Chair of the Church of England’s National Society, focused his speech on the success of reforms in Church schools – including through the transition of many secondary schools into academies and the development of imaginative and collaborative ways to protect rural schools. He noted the Church’s focus on the development of free schools in areas of deprivation, the importance of high-quality training and recruitment of teachers, the importance of character education alongside other parts of the curriculum, and the hope that a holistic approach could be taken to education, to ensure that the next generation are best prepared for the future.

14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 1The Lord Bishop of Ely: I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for securing this timely debate, not least as I have just taken over as chair of the Church of England’s National Society, which is responsible for our schools. We talk about urgency and the long term, and our picture goes back until at least 1811, with the foundation of the National Society. We have planted thousands of schools, determined that every child in the country should have access to a decent education regardless of their capacity to pay for it. The church continues to want to be involved in the reform and improvement of education across the board, not just in church schools but across primary schools, community schools, secondary schools and the university sector. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely takes part in debate on education reform”

Bishop of Ely takes part in debate on A&E services

On 15th January 2015, the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, took part in the Bishop of St Albans’ debate on the pressures facing accident and emergency services. Speaking to the experiences of Addenbrooke and Hinchingbrooke Hospitals, which is in his diocese, he noted that demand for services was continuing to increase. He called for greater integration and more joined-up working between different parts of the health sector.

14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 1The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McColl, for reminding me how pleased I was to be off my trolley in February 2013, when I was admitted as an emergency patient to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. Were it not for the skill and dedication of the surgeons and nurses—and the grace of God—I would not be here now. Like the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, I pay tribute to the dedication of staff in our hospitals, not least Addenbrooke’s, from which no one needing emergency treatment is turned away. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely takes part in debate on A&E services”

Maiden speech by the Bishop of Ely – Government strategy on social justice

The legitimacy of any legislature is judged by the sure access to justice for all citizens, regardless of age or estate. For that justice to be social it requires the active participation of all communities. I believe that this justice is rooted in the invitation of God to be generous and visible with and for others” – Bishop of Ely, 16/10/14

14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 1On 16th October 2014, the House of Lords debated a motion in the name of Baroness Tyler of Enfield, “that this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s Social Justice strategy.” The Bishop of Ely, Rt Rev Stephen Conway, gave his maiden speech in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Ely (Maiden Speech):My Lords, I begin by expressing my gratitude for the welcome I have received since I was introduced into your Lordships’ House. My theological sense of direction is rather more developed than my physical sense, and I have been touched by the noble Lords who have accompanied me around bewildering corridors. Your Lordships may yet see me, like Theseus, unwinding a ball of twine to get me back to the Bishops’ Robing Room. Continue reading “Maiden speech by the Bishop of Ely – Government strategy on social justice”

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