THE values that underpin our society are constantly in the news.
Schools are under increasing pressure, as pupils find themselves
negotiating complex local and global issues simultaneously, and the
system provides few resources to equip them for this journey.
If the Church is to offer a meaningful framework on which
schools and students can build a response, it is important that the
its education system regain a confidence about its vision and
Dramatic changes to the education landscape have resulted in the
need for greater flexibility over structures, an encouragement for
diversity and imagination, the devolution of teacher-training
systems, and a renewed emphasis on governance. These are all areas
where the Church should come forward with positive ideas, and make
a significant contribution.
If you speak to head teachers around the country, however, many
feel frustrated. They have a clear sense of the distinctive kind of
education they wish to offer: providing rigorous academic
foundations, and preparing young people for a world of work, while
exploring their identity as human beings and enabling them to
flourish and build relationships that improve society.
The problem that head teachers articulate is that, even with all
the changes, our schools have little control over how teachers are
trained. They have to take those whom they are given, or get more
involved in running school-based training courses such as School
Direct. But that is not easy for a small rural primary school.
In essence, the Church can be proud of a prophetic vision for
education, but currently has little power to do anything about it
in our schools.
WHEN I speak to diocesan leaders, or to many of the 22,500
foundation governors whom the Church of England appoints, they tell
me that they find it difficult to recruit school leaders who share
a vision for education that goes beyond the latest OFSTED framework
or DfE initiative.
Our solution is simple but ambitious. We aim to build the
Church's capacity to achieve our vision with a Church of England
Institute of Teaching and Educational Leadership. This would draw
together our huge network of schools, dioceses, universities, and
parishes in a way that enables us to articulate more clearly our
vision for education.
It will provide the means to recruit, train, nurture, and
develop the human talent responsible for achieving our vision, and
will be rooted in research that develops a complementary
More than one third of all primary teacher-training places are,
in one form or another, currently within the Church of England's
network. We should, therefore, be expecting to have a significant
impact on the way teachers are trained in this country, and must do
our part as a trusted partner in education to take a lead in this
So, what next? We have embarked on a big conversation across the
Church about our vision for the common good, achieved through our
mission in education, and we are actively developing the proposal
which will offer long-term resilience for the Church's work in this
all important area.
Through this institute, we aim to offer a way of bringing 4700
schools, 11 Anglican foundation universities, 66 Church of England
teaching schools, and 41 dioceses together to provide a means of
turning our stake in education into a dynamic movement that will
enable us to train and resource teachers, leaders, and governors
for schools within the context of a transforming vision for our
The Revd Nigel Genders is the Church of England's Chief