Chaplains in Higher Education
The Church of England supports chaplains in universities across the country including the Church Universities. The National Adviser for Higher Education, based in the Education Office at Church House, Westminster, leads on the Church’s policy and ministry in higher education.
The National Adviser advises on policy relating to HE; resources dioceses, universities and chaplains; coordinates conferences, induction and training for HE chaplains (with ecumenical cooperation through the Churches’ Higher Education Liaison Group (CHELG)); acts as consultant to chaplains and ecumenical chaplaincy teams; and advises enquirers considering ministry in this sector of education. In general, organized events are open to chaplains throughout Great Britain as well as to ecumenical partners and diocesan staff. The National Adviser and the Board of Education’s Higher Education Panel are available to advise the government and Church at all levels when required.
The role of chaplain includes ministry to staff and students, and to institutions as a whole, their leaders and structures. Chaplains are also a point of contact for people of other faiths. The university student experience has changed dramatically in recent years; the sector is undergoing further changes at present, with new funding arrangements and priorities set by government. A key focus for chaplaincy is enlarging an understanding of faith and the Church’s ministry in the higher education sector. This is a challenging ministry in the context of mission, in the face of continuing change and increasing student numbers, with all the pressures on people, finance and structures that these bring. It is increasingly carried out in a multi-faith context and is seen as bringing a major contribution to community cohesion. It requires wisdom and understanding. A range of materials reflecting the church’s work in Higher Education can be found at: www.churchofengland.org/education or obtained from the National Adviser for Higher Education, Education Office, Church House, London SW1P 3NZ. Tel: 020 7898 1513
Chaplains in Schools and Further Education
Chaplaincy to Further Education colleges and schools is one of the most vital and challenging forms of ministry among young people today. For many – staff and students alike – it is through the work of a chaplaincy team that faith is encountered and experienced. Chaplaincy takes many forms but there is a common commitment to providing for the spiritual and moral needs of the whole community, of any faith or none.
For those working in FE, one of the most striking features is the sector’s enormous size, scale and rich diversity. Almost twice as many 16–18 year olds study at colleges than in sixth forms and this includes high proportions of learners from disadvantaged areas and from ethnic minority groups.
Within colleges, roughly 80 per cent have some form of chaplaincy provision, usually in ecumenical and multi-faith teams, with a mix of ordained and lay members contributing time on a part-time and often voluntary basis to support a regular presence and activities in their local college. Although full-time posts are comparatively rare, unless the chaplain also serves as a counsellor or tutor, there are many examples of imaginative collaboration between faith groups, colleges and local communities, especially as resources are increasingly constrained in the present economic climate.
Colleges continue to respond to major changes in the curriculum, the examinations and assessment which their students undergo and the impact of new funding models, as well as seeking to embrace the opportunities offered through greater local autonomy, the need to increase their engagement with their community and the expansion of new approaches to training and skills, notably through Apprenticeships. In such testing conditions, chaplaincies can offer support to staff and students, as well as making their contribution to the wider curriculum and their help with the exploration of values and ethos during a time of such radical change.
School chaplaincy has long been a familiar form of Anglican ministry and in recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of schools choosing to offer chaplaincy provision, especially in secondary schools and academies, not all of which have a designated religious character. This is testimony to the importance of pastoral and other support for students and staff which takes matters of faith and belief seriously and enables people to develop an appreciation and sensitive awareness of the spiritual dimension to human flourishing, alongside a deeper understanding of the values of faiths and beliefs which the school and wider community embody. A flavour of this work can be gained from our most recent research report The Public Face of God, about chaplaincy in Church of England secondary schools and academies.
Alongside the 400 or so chaplains who have a formal role in their school, parish clergy and lay volunteers also provide an enormous amount of support which is, in effect, a form of chaplaincy, especially to local primary schools.
At a national level, the Education Office is working to increase the profile and effectiveness of chaplaincy provision in schools and in FE colleges and to influence the development of new forms of training for these roles, to influence policy making in key areas such as Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education (SMSC), inspection, equality and diversity and working with multi-faith communities. Through its partnerships with other bodies, including the Methodist and Roman Catholic churches, the National Union of Students, SCALA (the School Chaplains and Leaders Association) the All Faiths and None network and the National Council for Faiths and Beliefs in FE, the team are helping make available an increasing range of curriculum materials to support college and school staff, who are trying to explore sensitive issues in imaginative and fruitful ways.
All who are interested in supporting or learning more about this work may contact:
The National Further Education and Post-16 Adviser, Education Division, Church House, London SW1P 3AZ
Tel: 020 7898 1517