Minister congratulates CofE on new free schools in response to question from Bishop of Peterborough

On 21st October 2014, Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to ensure a fair admissions policy in schools.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Rev Donald Allister, asked a supplementary question:

14.02 PeterboroughThe Lord Bishop of Peterborough: Will the Minister join me in congratulating the four latest Church of England free schools to be announced, which between them offer nearly 2,500 places to young people of all faiths and none, especially in areas of severe shortage? Continue reading “Minister congratulates CofE on new free schools in response to question from Bishop of Peterborough”

Bishop of Birmingham responds to Government statement on ‘Trojan Horse’

On 22nd July 2014, a Government statement on Birmingham Schools was repeated in the House of Lords by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, responded to the statement. He called for Government support of the Kershaw Report, asked for clarity on responsibility and accountability in the education system, and argued that the incident highlighted the need for greater understanding of faith and religion throughout civil society.

T01.04.14 Bishop of Birminghamhe Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for bringing the Secretary of State’s Statement to the House and for the publication of Peter Clarke’s report. As he mentioned, this goes alongside Ian Kershaw’s report, which was published on Friday, about Birmingham City Council and it has the support of the Birmingham Trojan horse review group, of which I am a member. That group has published its own, wider recommendations in this complex and troubling period. Does the Minister agree that both reports are thorough and hard-hitting, and that there is much in common in their findings? Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham responds to Government statement on ‘Trojan Horse’”

Bishop of Oxford calls for more intentional support for the rural economy and rural schools

“I very much hope that the Department for Education will not resort to a philosophy of “the weakest to the wall” with these small schools because small rural schools are so often worth their weight in gold, as the heart and hub of our rural communities. The Church of England will publish a report very soon on how to support our rural schools effectively” – Bishop of Oxford, 3/7/14.

On 3rd July, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, took part in a debate on the rural economy, lead by the Earl of Shrewsbury. The Bishop spoke about the need for intentional support for the many micro-businesses that make up the rural economy, and also for greater personal investment in rural schools, particularly through an increase in the number of foundation govenors supporting rural schools.

Bishop of OxfordThe Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Shrewsbury, for giving us this opportunity to debate this matter. We all approach this important subject from different angles. I want to emphasise one that is economic and the other that is personal in the sense of our own personal investment and commitment. I serve a diocese which is largely rural although it has large centres of population such as Oxford, Reading, Milton Keynes and Slough. However, the rural expanses of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire are considerable, with 815 churches and 650 clergy, all of whom are strongly connected to the all-round flourishing of our diverse communities. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford calls for more intentional support for the rural economy and rural schools”

MPs questions to Church Commissioners’: Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians, church repairs, credit unions, biblical literacy

Church Commissioners’ Questions: 12th June 2014

Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked questions in the House of Commons on 12th June, on the service of remembrance for Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians overseas, listed church building repairs, credit unions and biblical literacy amongst children. The transcript is below:

14.01 CCQ Baldry

Stephen Sutton

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con):If he will visit Lichfield cathedral to discuss the service of remembrance and celebration of the life of Stephen Sutton. [904158]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): I am always happy to visit Lichfield cathedral. The whole country will have celebrated the life and achievements of Stephen Sutton. The recent service of remembrance and celebration at Lichfield cathedral demonstrates the importance of cathedrals as a focus for unity at times of local and national celebration, commemoration and mourning. Continue reading “MPs questions to Church Commissioners’: Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians, church repairs, credit unions, biblical literacy”

Birmingham schools inspections – Bishop of Norwich on impact of religious education

In the House of Lords on 9th June 2014 the schools minister Lord Nash repeated the Statement made by the Secretary of State for Education on schools in Birmingham. After the Statement, the Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James, asked a question of the minister:

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, the Minister may not be aware that earlier this afternoon in his maiden speech, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford said that good religious education is one of the best ways of countering religious extremism. I would be interested to know whether the Minister agrees. Given that none of the schools subject to these inspections in Birmingham were faith schools—although listening to our discussion, you would have thought otherwise—does it not seem that appropriate, well balanced and enriching religious education may have been an area of neglect? Continue reading “Birmingham schools inspections – Bishop of Norwich on impact of religious education”

Ethos and education: the Bishop of Chelmsford makes maiden speech in House of Lords

“…it is impossible to understand and inhabit the modern world, especially in east London, without a critical appreciation of faith and, even more than that, a mature spiritual, moral, social and cultural worldview. Moreover, good religious education has been shown to be one of the best ways of countering religious extremism” – Bishop of Chelmsford, 9/6/14

14.06.09 Chelmsford 2

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, made his maiden speech on 9th June 2014, during the debate on the Queen’s Speech. He spoke of the importance of religious education and the positive role played by church schools. He also welcomed Government proposals in the Queen’s Speech for tackling the emotional abuse of children. The speech can also be watched on Parliament Live TV.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I think that the correct medical term for my condition is imposter syndrome. I have suffered from that for a long time. How could a boy from Southend who was not brought up going to church and who, aged 11, fell the wrong side of the line and went to a secondary modern school end up sitting on these red Benches and speaking in this House? Because of this, I want to say something today about the place of education in the life of our nation. Continue reading “Ethos and education: the Bishop of Chelmsford makes maiden speech in House of Lords”

Free Schools – independent or interdependent? Question from Bishop of Oxford

In the House of Lords on 14th May 2014, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch asked Her Majesty’s Government “what early intervention measures they are putting in place to reduce the educational and financial implications of failing free schools.” The Bishop of Oxford, who chairs the Church of England’s Board of Education, asked a supplementary question:

Bishop of Oxford

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, given that prevention is better than costly cure, can the Minister let us know what is being done to make sure that free schools are established as groups of interdependent schools, rather than independent and autonomous units? Can he let us know how what we have learnt from the academies programme—that we need to get schools grouped together in multi-academy trusts—is being transferred to free schools?

Lord Nash: The right reverend Prelate makes an extremely good point. Although it is true that a number of outstanding schools have been established entirely independently, the way forward is the school-to-school support model, with schools operating in local clusters and secondaries working with their primaries. We are taking this learning, which has been very successful in the academy movement, into the free schools movement.


Schools: attainment by ethnic minority pupils

In the House of Lords on 8th April 2014 Baroness Benjamin asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what steps they are taking to raise the academic attainment levels of black British students, and especially those of Caribbean descent?’ The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:

14.03 Bishop of St Albans


The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, what assessment have Her Majesty’s Government made of the impact on educational attainment of the absorption of the Ethnic Minority Achievement Awards into the dedicated schools grant, which was done some months ago?

Lord Nash: The impact was substantial. I will have to write to the right reverend Prelate to give him more details.


Schools: Bad Behaviour

On 25th March 2014 Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what policies they promote to prevent bad behaviour in schools, apart from punishment?’. The Bishop of Leicester asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: LeicesterMy Lords, in view of the Minister’s clear endorsement of the policy of positive reinforcement of good behaviour, does he agree that we should be doing much more to promote a culture of mutual respect more widely in society so that the benefit of the positive work of many schools is not lost when our children step out of the school gate?

Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the right reverend Prelate. I know that the church has a particularly strong record of promoting community cohesion across its schools. A culture of mutual respect and of respecting other races and religions is essential to a modern school.

Bishop of Winchester on teacher training, education and social mobility

“I question whether the Government’s policies for improving the quality of teaching have been fully effective and will enable social mobility. I am particularly concerned about the School Direct programme. In fact, I suggest there is an urgent case for rethinking arrangements around initial teacher training before a crisis develops.” – Bishop of Winchester

The Bishop of Winchester gave a speech in a House of Lords debate on 13th March 2014, tabled by the Education Minister Lord Nash.

The debate title was: ‘that this House takes note of the role of primary and secondary education in improving social mobility.’

The Lord Bishop of Winchester:13.05 Bishop of Winchester

My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Nash, for the opportunity of this debate. I shall focus on the impact made by initial teacher training on social mobility. Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester on teacher training, education and social mobility”

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