The Government’s chief minister for standards in schools, Lord Adonis, is expected to emphasise the government’s continuing commitment to faith schools at a conference today.
He will address head teachers and governors of Church of England schools in Harrogate.
Andrew Adonis will be one of three keynote speakers at “Children Matter”, the Annual Conference of the Bradford and Ripon and Leeds joint Diocesan Education Department. He will share the platform at Rudding Park on November 16 with former Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Education and local MP, Phil Willis, while the Revd. Janina Ainsworth, the General Secretary of the National Society, completes the line-up.
The conference is not expected to address head on the recent criticisms that church schools are creating division in local communities and discriminating in admissions by giving priority to children of parents who attend churches.
The Conference aims instead to consider the question of how childhood can be enjoyed and creativity and excitement regained in the school curriculum, given the extensive targets, testing and bureaucratic burdens now placed on schools.
Lord Adonis who is chief minister for standards in schools, is associated with the Government’s policies on tuition fees and city academies and had previously been Tony Blair’s advisor on education and public services.
Diocesan Director of Education, the Revd Clive Sedgewick, says he is hoping Lord Adonis will give a clear indication of the Government’s support for progress in local inner-city church schools. He said, “The theme of the conference is a reference to the church’s call for more emphasis to be put on the quality of childhood experiences. Pushing schools to be successful through more and more testing can be destructive of that quality of childhood which is so important. Lord Adonis will be there to listen as well as speak – it will be a very interesting meeting.”
Among those who will be attending the conference will be the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer and the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd David James. Delegates from the 159 church schools in the two dioceses have been invited, crossing seven local education authorities - North Yorkshire, Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Cumbria, Durham and Lancashire.