‘Inspiring’ - conference for small church schools at Allerton Castle

The Anglican Diocese of Leeds has been hosting a strategic and inspiring conference for heads, teachers and governors of small and rural church schools across Yorkshire held at Allerton Castle near Knaresborough (Monday 19 November).

Two of our bishops, Bishop Jonathan Gibbs, the Bishop of Huddersfield and Chair of the Anglican Diocese of Leeds Board of Education, and Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley, the Bishop of Ripon, took part in “Embracing Change - Flourishing Leaders”, the Rural & Small Schools Conferences 2018 organised by the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership.

The Foundation is a partnership of schools, dioceses, universities and others dedicated to supporting the development of leaders in education and is developing a peer support network, particularly for head teachers of small and rural church schools.

The conference heard from keynote speakers including the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, the Revd. Nigel Genders, Dame Alison Peacock (CEO, Chartered College of Teaching), Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley, the Bishop of Ripon as well as head teachers and local authority leaders. Bishop Helen-Ann and Bishop Jonathan were  part of a panel discussion on vital issues facing schools and rural communities.

There was also inspiring input from #iwill campaign ambassador and Scouting Commissioner, Mathew Milner , and from the Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust.

Following the March 2018 publication of Embracing Change, the CofE’s report on Rural and Small Schools, the conference focused on issues such as leadership development, the recruitment of head teachers, resources, budgets, the often vital role of the church in the local community and its relationship with the local church.  

"It was really significant that one of three national conferences was held here on the border of Leeds and York dioceses", said Bishop Helen-Ann. It shows the importance of partnership, something we have stressed in our diocesan strategy.

"We heard inspiring stories how schools are making a difference in their communities. In may ways our schools are teaching our churches what it means to be disciples - caring for the local are, the people in the community and the wider world and I find that quite inspiring. ...It was a really positive gathering."

On Twitter, Bishop Jonathan concluded, “A stimulating day with great colleagues at a brilliant venue - and no more important subject than the future of education!”

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