In 2008-10, the Diocese of Worcester commissioned consultant Peter Brownjohn to explore potential for creative partnership between FE colleges and local churches in their provision for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students.
The objective of the project from the outset was to develop and enhance the relationship with Further Education and Sixth Form colleges, within the Diocese of Worcester and with local faith communities. At the beginning of the project, chaplaincy provision existed in just two of the ten colleges falling within the area covered by the diocese. St Peter’s Saltley Trust funded the Diocese of Worcester to appoint a consultant for forty-eight days over nineteen months (November 2008 to July 2010). Peter Brownjohn, an experienced teacher and educational leader, was appointed to do the work.
During the forty-eight days of the project, well over fifty face to face meetings were held with college staff, and much of the change that resulted was built on the basis of the friendly but professional relationship that was built up between the Project Consultant and college staff at all levels.
Progress varied according to the starting point of the college, their priorities, and practicalities such as Ofsted inspections. A well-attended networking meeting for college staff took place in November 2009, and as a direct result of this, two colleges went on to establish chaplaincy provision for their students.
However, where only two colleges within the diocese had some form of functioning chaplaincy arrangement at the outset of the project, this rose to eight out of ten by the end of the project term. Most of these are still currently functioning. As a result of the success of the work, a brief for further education chaplaincy was also written into the role description for the diocesan youth officer. The project offers a viable model for other dioceses to develop partnership working and engagement with further education colleges – albeit with a recommendation that such projects need more than two years to enable new partnerships to be sustained, and more than the consultancy arrangement of 2-3 days per month to sustain them.