Tuesday, 17 March 2009

ministerial education inspection reports

The Church of England has announced today:

Church publishes inspection reports

The Church of England today publishes inspection reports on two of its ministerial training colleges.

The Church has a long track record of ensuring the quality of the initial training of its clergy by regular inspection of its training institutions. Theological colleges and part-time training courses are inspected every five years by teams of inspectors appointed by the bishops of the Church of England. Where training is delivered ecumenically, Church of England inspectors work in partnership with teams from the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union.

In the past the reports have been confidential to bishops and church leaders, but from today inspection reports will appear on the Church of England website. Inspection reports on the institutions of partner churches will appear on their websites. At first there will only be a limited number of reports, because training institutions are only inspected every five years. Over the coming years a full set of reports will appear.

See Quality Assurance in Ministerial Education and The Quality Framework for Ordination Training.

The first two reports are available as PDF files from this page:

Wycliffe Hall Oxford

St Stephen’s House Oxford

Wycliffe Hall has published this press release: Bishops’ Inspection 2008 and there is also this PDF file containing Wycliffe Bishop’s [sic] Response:

Statement by the Bishop of Liverpool (Chair of Council)
Bishop of Chester (Chair-designate of Council)
Bishop of Birmingham

17 March 2009: We are grateful to the Inspectors for their work, and for the wide endorsement which they give to Wycliffe Hall and its work. We are pleased that the Inspectors have confidence in Wycliffe, and we note their qualifications. In particular we welcome their recognition that the difficulties of recent years in relation to staff relationships are now largely overcome.

We welcome the recommendations of the Inspectors, and the Council and staff will do their utmost to ensure that they are given very careful consideration, and are acted upon.

We regret that the Inspectors have judged it right to declare that they have no confidence in one area of the Hall’s life, in relation to aspects of Practical and Pastoral Theology. We doubt that the evidence which the Inspectors adduce merits such a stark assessment, but we will ensure that the recommendations which are made in relation to this area are given speedy and particular attention. We share the confidence that the Inspectors have that Wycliffe Hall is fit for purpose, and look forward to maintaining its high academic standards and formation of both men and women for ordained ministry in the Church of England.

+ James Liverpool
+ Peter Cestr
+ David Birmingham

Several downloads are available here, which contain submissions made to the inspectors.

St Stephen’s House has also published a press release: Response to the Publication of the Inspection Report 2008

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 9:50am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Mmmm...doesn't surprise me that the Report records 'No Confidence' in Wycliffe's Pastoral and Practical Theology formation.

Posted by: MJ on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 10:34am GMT

Equally interesting is the reported lack of evening worship at Wycliffe, and the Report's suprise at how little scripture and psalmody was used in their daily worship!!!

Posted by: MJ on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 10:39am GMT

For an evangelical college:

74 We were also surprised at the very limited amount of biblical material in the daily
services.

What does that say?

Also, clearly, there is a drift from Anglican formation in the life of the worship.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 1:07pm GMT

Sounds like the former TESM/TEM here in the states. Some TESM/TEM don't even have the prescribed readings (Old, Psalm, New, Gospel).
They might have and old reading a song of praise (not a psalm or even a paraphrased version) and Gospel reading. Parts of the liturgy are dropped as being too Catholic. It's really scary.

Posted by: BobinSwPA on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 2:02pm GMT

I see two recommendations writ large over this report 1) Consult 2) Cooperate.

Could be both worse and better, I suppose...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 4:21pm GMT

'We doubt that the evidence which the Inspectors adduce merits such a stark assessment,'

This quotation from James Jones and colleagues letter of response, well demonstrates the crisis of authority and collegiality among conservative anglicans. They wish to disent however politely and as bishops, are undermining the very structures the House of Bishops set up to try to ensure high standards and good practice.

They are only interested in what is hammered on their own anvil -- thank you very much.

It seems to me that ultra-conservative beleivers have done much to undermine Christian faith and practice; and to to deter the public from inquiring into faith. Of which this only the latest example.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 6:08pm GMT

Staggers is doing no better than Wycliffe it would seem.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 6:14pm GMT

FWIW, my worry is the perceived weakness in theological reflection. An inability/reluctance to engage theologically with the world (as opposed to shouting verses from inadequately studied scriptures at it) is not good. I'm unsurprised that the worship is barely Anglican, or that the use of Scripture is weak.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 8:37pm GMT

In response to some of the comments above, I note in that in the Bishop's press release they state, "We doubt that the evidence which the Inspectors adduce merits such a stark assessment."
Equally the report itself does conclude positively:
136 Wycliffe Hall’s body of staff and students is united in the common purpose of forming ordinands, women as much as men, for leadership in the Church of England. Today, the Hall displays a rich mosaic of Evangelical traditions that come together in a community that shows respect for difference, and in which women are fully accepted and integrated.
137 It is the considered and prayerful judgment of the Inspection Team that Wycliffe Hall is, with the qualifications mentioned, fit for the purpose of preparing men and women for ordained ministry in the Church of England.

Posted by: AGPH on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 2:07pm GMT

Pluralist has expanded his initial comment here, and you can read it at
http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2009/03/wycliffe-hall-biblical-selectivity.html

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 7:26pm GMT

Dear anonymous AGPH,

How does "respect for difference" square with the sacking of staff or the not so subtle allegations of "dictatorial management"?

How is "a rich mosaic of Evangelical traditions" not a parallel to the 1970ies quarrels amongst the extreme left, divisions real for the protagonists, no doubt, but invisible and indeed incomprehensible for the onlooker?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 4:35am GMT

If there are now about 3000 ordained women in England, how is it that St Stephen's House has been having difficulty appointing a single one despite having been recommended to do so at the previous inspection?

At least they didn't rush out a press release claiming they couldn't understand the criticisms in their latest evaluation, unlike their colleagues down the road.

Posted by: Joan of Quark on Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 1:25pm GMT

Dear Goran Koch-Swahne,
Thank you for your questions. With regard to the latter, I am afraid I don't know the details of the 1970s quarrels so am therefore not in a position of authority to comment in detail. What I would say however, and this is with regard to your first point too, is that the ministerial education inspection is extremely rigorous (from my experience at theological college, not Wycliffe I hasten to add, no stone was left unturned!) and totally impartial. Clearly they would have known about the difficulties that the college has recently faced and any dangers that may lurk – if these things needed to be commented on, I trust they would have? Thank you again for your questions.

Posted by: AGPH on Friday, 20 March 2009 at 7:06am GMT

I enjoyed the comment from the SSH report: 'Although not all the students are against the ordination of women, all feel the anxiety of those who cannot accept it, and their sense of rejection by the Church of England'. I assume 'anxiety' refers to the opponents and the 'sense of rejection' refers to the women training there and the rejection of their priestly vocation by the Principal and some staff ...?

Posted by: Grumpy High Church Woman on Friday, 20 March 2009 at 4:20pm GMT

"no confidence" in Practical and Pastoral Theology, and qualified confidence in Training in Public Worship. And I thought a priest was supposed to be a practical and pastoral theologian who leads public worship. Oh dear....

Posted by: An Anglican on Friday, 20 March 2009 at 7:26pm GMT

AGPH wrote: “... if these things needed to be commented on, I trust they would have?”

They weren't.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 21 March 2009 at 10:04am GMT

no confidence" in Practical and Pastoral Theology, and qualified confidence in Training in Public Worship. And I thought a priest was supposed to be a practical and pastoral theologian who leads public worship. Oh dear....

Posted by: An Anglican on Friday, 20 March 2009 at 7:26pm GMT

Shocking. And no surprise that neglect of the Holy Scriptures is registered so clearly.

It is a shame that this seminary was spared while others, more loyal to the Church of England were axed. The C of E bishops are really getting what they deserve, aren't they ?

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Saturday, 21 March 2009 at 1:17pm GMT

Dear Goran

Thank you for your last comment. The fact "they weren't" would suggest two things. Either the Church of England have failed in their inspection or they, in their wisdom and experience, did not find anything worth commenting on? Thanks again.

Posted by: AGPH on Monday, 23 March 2009 at 8:01am GMT

"We regret that the Inspectors have judged it right to declare that they have no confidence in one area of the Hall’s life, in relation to aspects of Practical and Pastoral Theology. We doubt that the evidence which the Inspectors adduce merits such a stark assessment"

- Wycliffe response to the Assessment -

Naturally perhaps, Wycliffe rejects the implied criticism of the Inspectors' verdict on this aspect of its preparation of clergy-in-training. For Wycliffe to occasion such criticism from the inspection team, their ministerial formation process must, indeed, be somewhat lacking in certain important aspects of the pastoral and practical ministerial competence of its graduates.

Perhaps Wycliffe is so busily engaged in the study of the words in the Bible, and not concerned enough with the process of en-fleshing The Word - in the world it is seeking to evangelise. One wonders whether intellectual pursuits are sometimes seen to so much more important than the practical outreach of the ministry of the Gospel. And where is the priority of prayer and worship in all of this tendency to put intellectual pursuits above praxis?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 27 March 2009 at 11:09pm GMT
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