Centre for Excellence in Leadership
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CEL and NEAFE publish report on making space for faith in FE

An overwhelming number of students and staff think that colleges should provide for people’s faith and belief needs. These were the findings of a national enquiry into opportunities for spiritual and moral development in further education, undertaken by the National Ecumenical Agency in Further Education (NEAFE) and the Faiths in Further Education Forum (FiFEF).

A full report on the enquiry, "Making space for faith: values, beliefs and faiths in the learning and skills sector", has been published by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) and NEAFE.

The purpose of the enquiry was to build up a picture of:

* the role of the sector in enabling all members of society, irrespective of age, gender, ethnic background, values, beliefs and faiths, to engage with one another in shaping a positive approach to 21st-century pluralism

* the views of learners and staff in colleges and in workplaces on issues of values, beliefs and faiths

* how the system and its stakeholders could improve responses to learner and staff needs in relation to issues of values, beliefs and faiths in a way that is in keeping with the sector’s economic, educational and social missions.

A total number of 41 colleges and 924 individual students and staff participated in the enquiry, which found that:

* Almost three quarters of students (74%) were more likely to feel part of a college or workplace that actively encouraged dialogue and activities between people and communities of diverse faiths and beliefs.

* 79% of students, regardless of their own personal beliefs, thought that colleges should provide for people’s faith and belief needs.

* Almost three quarters of staff surveyed (73%) thought that legal entitlement to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development provided for learners in school sixth forms through the 1944 Education Act should be extended to cover students and trainees over the age of 16 in the learning and skills sector.

The report offers a number of recommendations for the government, agencies, colleges, learning providers, churches and faith communities.

Launching the publication on 16 July 2007, the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning and Further and Higher Education, Bill Rammell, said, "This report comes at an important time for further education when we are working with colleagues from across the system to review how to strengthen its contribution to community cohesion. Positively recognising learners’ spiritual and moral needs is part of this and will enable FE to provide a personalised learning experience and to contribute towards the prevention of extremism. The report includes some very helpful examples of good practice and research material on addressing faith needs."

Dr Ann Limb, who is chair of NEAFE and led the enquiry, said, "It is clear from what learners, as well as their tutors and leaders, told us that people are more likely to feel part of a college that actively encourages dialogue and activities between people from diverse belief and faith backgrounds. Colleges have a critical role to play in community integration and cohesion, and by working actively with their local faith and belief communities, can fulfil this role effectively."

CEL’s chief executive, Lynne Sedgmore, said, "Understanding the views and needs of learners and staff on issues of values, beliefs and faiths is an important part of our commitment to ensuring equality and diversity of opportunity throughout the further education system. We believe that faith issues should have a higher profile within leadership dialogue in the 21st century, and that the FE system has a valuable role to play in encouraging community cohesion and providing opportunities for all. We are delighted to be involved with NEAFE in publishing the findings of this national enquiry."

NOTES TO EDITORS

The report is available to download from www.centreforexcellence.org.uk/admin/UsersDoc/MakingSpaceForFaith.pdf

The national enquiry was commissioned by the Quality Improvement Agency

(QIA) in July 2006.

About CEL

The Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) was launched in October 2003, as a key national agency within the Success for All initiative.

CEL has a crucial role to play in developing organisational leadership in the further education system to anticipate, influence and respond to government policy initiatives, including, for example, the 2006 white paper, "Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances".

CEL's remit is to foster and support leadership improvement, reform, transformation, sustainability and quality improvement. It serves the existing and future leaders of all providers within the further education system, including FE colleges, training and work-based learning providers, adult and community providers, offender learning, specialist colleges and voluntary organisations.

Following the publication of the white paper, CEL is involved in the introduction of a mandatory principal's qualification and the development of the quality improvement strategy for further education.

The white paper also heralded an expansion of CEL's diversity and equality remit.

CEL now operates through a charitable trust formed by its operating company on 1 April 2006.

To date, more than 1,160 different organisations and 25,800 individual participants have engaged with CEL. No fewer than 15 participants from recent cohorts of CEL's Senior leadership development programme (SLDP) have been promoted to the role of principal.

CONTACT

Lindsay Baugh: (07736) 246 697 or (01707) 392 552

Email: lindsay.baugh@howardsgate.co.uk

Centre for Excellence in Leadership

Suite 309, 10 Greycoat Place

Victoria

London

SW1P 1SB

Telephone: (020) 7960 6035

Facsimile: (020) 7222 3081

Website: www.centreforexcellence.org.uk

 

About NEAFE

The National Ecumenical Agency in Further Education is a national independent inter-faith charity working with the learning and skills sector, faith and local communities and national and local faith and belief-based groups. Chaired by Dr Ann Limb, NEAFE operates as a cross-sectoral, UK-wide infrastructure body, providing policy and research functions for the sector and for faith communities and supporting members from colleges, providers and communities with information, advice and resources. NEAFE publishes the "Journal of Chaplaincy in FE" and promotes good practice through the Churches’

Beacon Award for Sustainable Community Development and the Helena Kennedy Foundation NEAFE award for students entering the teaching profession.

Established over 30 years ago by FE college principals, tutors and chaplains to foster and develop partnership working and community engagement, largely with and through local Christian faith groups, NEAFE exists to help encourage the sector to respond to student, staff and community needs in relation to spiritual moral social and cultural

(SMSC) values in further education settings, the community and the workplace.

In 2004, NEAFE established the Faiths in FE Forum to recognise the changed context for education and society as a result of 9/11. FiFEF currently operates as a partner organisation comprising educational professionals and faith leaders drawn from the range of faith communities.

NEAFE and FiFEF are in the process of forming a single new body, the National Councils of Faiths and Beliefs in FE, to replace both NEAFE and FiFEF and to reflect the changing needs of the sector and society in relation to social integration and community cohesion and the critical role that colleges play in working with faith and belief groups. The NCFB will be launched in 2008.

CONTACT

Dr Ann Limb: 020 7898 1529

Email: agl@annlimb.co.uk

National Ecumenical Agency in Further Education (NEAFE) Education Division Church House Great Smith Street London SW1P 3NZ

Telephone: 020 7898 1529

Facsimile 020 7898 1520

Website: www.neafe.org

 

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