THE start of a new school year is an opportunity to set out our aspirations and goals in education. When many are troubled by the deep divisions in society, and when increasing numbers of young people are saying that they are unhappy with their lives, we need to be clear about what we think education is for, and about how it should address those issues directly.
In July, the General Synod overwhelmingly supported the statement of our vision for education earlier commended by the House of Bishops. That vision offers a framework for education that promotes wisdom, hope, community, and dignity. We want our schools to offer rigour and academic excellence, while at the same time providing an environment where young people know that they are not valued for the results they get, but for the people they become.
Learning to live well together, in tandem with achieving individual academic, artistic, and sporting goals, is a compelling vision for life — one that, we believe, is right for our times and enables us to play a key part in shaping the culture in which our children will grow to maturity.
THIS vision is the cornerstone for transforming leadership in schools through our new Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership. The foundation will bring together our church universities, schools, and dioceses, harnessing the expertise in our educational network, and providing programmes of study and research underpinned by our university education faculties. This will provide our present school leaders, and those who succeed them, with the confidence to deliver our vision for education.
Our plans include training programmes to provide chief officers of multi-academy trusts with the skills they need to move from being the leader of one school to overseeing groups of schools. We are piloting, in three regions, a new programme for headship to develop leaders for the future. The pilots will involve eight dioceses: Canterbury, Chichester, and Rochester in the south-east; Bath & Wells, Exeter, and Truro in the south-west; and Carlisle and Liverpool in the north-west. Additionally, a suite of online resources will enable school leaders to access expertise and information, all underpinned by the best research.
The Church of England has always been at the forefront of educational development in this country, and this new approach will transform how we function as a movement for education, enabling dioceses, schools, universities, and the national education office to work together to train teachers and leaders to share this vision for education that is deeply Christian and serves the common good.
The Revd Nigel Genders is the C of E’s Chief Education Officer.