TEACHERS should not underestimate their impact on “the young people of today who will shape our future”, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, said last week.
Speaking at the Church of England’s National Education Conference on Thursday of last week, Bishop Mullally said: “Know that you are of value — not because of them, but because of who you are; and you deserve to flourish.”
The theme of the conference was “resilience”. The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, used his keynote speech to lay out the Government’s new “five foundations for building character”: sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and membership, and the world of work.
He said: “Character and resilience are the qualities, the inner resources that we call on to get us through the frustrations and setbacks that are part and parcel of life. How do we instil this in young people? How do we make sure they are ready to make their way in the world as robust and confident individuals?
“I have heard repeatedly from teachers, parents, and young people themselves about the areas of activity that will help develop character and resilience. They combine elements that will stretch and challenge and will help young people think, develop, and grow, and which will enhance their self-esteem and their confidence.
“This is not about a DfE plan for building character. It has to be about schools learning from other schools: it’s about business pitching in when it can, it’s about community groups speaking up and inviting schools in. It’s about individual adults volunteering. All of us need to work together using the wide range of resources and experts that there are out there.”
In her speech, Bishop Mullally said that teachers needed to develop resilience to help combat stress; but there should also be talk about how to flourish. She told the conference that this meant “finding God’s purpose for our lives; an embodied existence where mind, body, and spirit are united, and where we can express our vocation. . .
”To flourish requires us to take responsibility for ourselves, develop strategies and patterns and rhythms of life which help us to maintain a balanced life of service, rest, prayer, and recreation.”
The Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, urged politicians not to use education as a “political football”, or as an “experiment by political parties every time there is an election”.
She said: “If there was ever a time we needed this powerful weapon of education, it is now. At present, our educational institutions, like many other national institutions, are being tossed to and fro by all kinds of ideological turbulence. . .
“Rethinking resilience means finding a way of re-examining our values to ensure that they are life-giving for our children and the communities from which they come, the communities we serve. And, if we are going to commit ourselves to create the changes we wish to see, then we will need to recognise that we must work together with all the different agencies, including the families, to achieve this goal.”
Mr Hinds also said that he did not recognise the word “snowflakes” when he visited schools. “I don’t recognise that in the young people I meet on my visits. The young people I meet are compassionate, civic-minded, and hardworking. I know that there are 200 of them here today. I’d like to congratulate and thank you for coming here today.
“When I compare you and your peers to who I was at your age, my classmates and I, you have so much more confidence, ambition, and gumption than we ever did. But, of course, we’d expect every generation to be better than the last.
“What I want is for us to reach higher and wider, to improve further still; to make sure that these opportunities are available for everyone, and that we value fully the development of character and resilience in all our young people.”
Church influence boosted
THE Department for Education (DfE) has recognised that the Church of England is an active partner in church schools by strengthening and safeguarding its influence over multi-academy trusts.
New guidance for C of E academies were published last week by the DfE.
The revised model articles are adapted from the non-Church model to make them suitable for church academies by negotiation between the DfE and the C of E Education Office with advice from the solicitors Lee Bolton Monier-Williams.
The latest revisions come after the C of E asked for amendments. The changes strengthen the Church’s position in relation to multi-academy trusts.
Under the new articles, the position of a Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) is clarified and strengthened, and the Church is enabled to appoint extra directors to an academy trust if there are serious concerns about its performance. Academy trust companies can thus be held to account more easily by DBEs.
Lee Bolton Monier-Williams commented this week: “The revised articles significantly strengthen and clarify the position of the dioceses of the Church of England in providing academies, while continuing the important Church of England tradition of welcoming close collaboration with non-church schools and schools of other religious traditions. They will make running academy companies easier.”
A Church House spokesperson said on Wednesday: “We are pleased that the new Articles of Association are available, and welcome the way in which they support the protection of the character of Church of England schools.”