Speaking at the Church of England’s National Education Conference, The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, and the Chaplain to the Speaker of the Commons, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, joined Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, who outlined the Government’s new vision.
Addressing a room of more than 600 delegates, leaders from the world of education together with school-children from around the country, The Bishop of London began by thanking those in the teaching profession:
“What students will not always tell you is how your enthusiasm for a subject has enthused them, how your stability in the midst of an unstable world has held them and how your belief in them has formed them,” she said.
The bishop then urged those in the teaching profession to reconsider their work/life balance, saying that nearly a third of teachers worked a 51 hour week. She encouraged people of all ages to build down-time into each day.
"We need to protect our time off; short breaks; times when we are not available to anybody, not on our mobiles, social media. Away time, alone," she said.
“Wisdom … only comes about when we find time not just to gain knowledge, but to find time for idleness – in the true tradition of the contemplative – finding time for reflection, for freedom of thought and creative wonder.
“Wisdom comes not through human endeavour but by lives rested in God.”
Rose Hudson-Wilkin reflected on her experience as Parliamentary Chaplain saying that MPs often spoke to her about the value of prayers said at the beginning of each day.
She said: “Two days ago, a Member [of Parliament] identified himself to me as an atheist and said, ‘I love coming to prayers, I find that moment of quiet very helpful as a time of reflection before I get stuck into the business of the day.’”
Speaking about resilience, she said: “It is no secret that we are presently experiencing something of an upheaval here in Europe, but those who know the importance of what is at stake cannot and must not give up.
“Re-thinking resilience means finding a way of re-examining our values to ensure that they are lifegiving for our children and the communities from which they come, the communities we serve.
“For resilience we need vision; vision is what we carry to see us through what is happening now, because what is happening now is not the end of the story.”
In his speech the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, laid out five Foundations for Building Character and pledged to work with schools and external organisations to help every child access activities: Sport, Creativity, Performing, The World of Work, and Volunteering & Membership.
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?
“Courage comes from within and our job is to help children find that courage. That forms the basis of Character Education.
“[These 5 foundations] 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.”
The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders, welcomed proposals from the Government, but said that success would require long-term commitment.
He said: “We welcome today’s announcement from the Education Secretary, and the encouragement it will give schools and young people to develop in every aspect of life, and not settle for less.”
“This approach will need to be carefully thought through and must go beyond the lifespan of a single Government; the education of our children and young people is too important to become political currency.
“The Church of England has been talking about the importance of character-building for hundreds of years, and recently published a report on leadership for character education, which sets out how the development of character in leadership is a crucial part of enabling character development for children.
“Our vision for education is about the flourishing of children and adults, pupils and teachers, and goes beyond simply coping; it’s about hoping, growing and thriving.”
The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Paul Williams, gave the closing speech of the Conference, encouraging education teams to build resilience on a fourfold model of vision, trust, value and joy.
The event was brought to life by musical performances from students at St Mark’s Academy, Mitcham, and Archbishop Blanch School, Liverpool, with students Savannah Rowe and Oluchukwu Okey Ezenkwu introducing the speakers.
Andy Wolfe, Deputy Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, who organised the conference, said, “we’re delighted to have hosted our biggest National Conference yet, which has drawn together over 600 leaders from across the country to focus on this crucial leadership development issue.”
“Our thanks to all the speakers, and in particular to the students whose professionalism, maturity and skill contributed so much to the occasion.”
The conference, entitled ‘Rethinking Resilience’ was hosted by the Church of England’s Foundation for Educational Leadership, and held at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster.