Bishop of Bedford’s keynote on ‘Living Well Together’
Read Bishop Richard’s keynote speech here
Sixth form students, teachers, advisers and faith leaders came together this week to share ideas on how schools and colleges foster living well together and to identify and overcome the challenges they face in promoting peaceful coexistence.
Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford, Co-Chair of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, Near Neighbours Trustee and keynote speaker said, ‘This conference is critical at this time when events in our world not least in Paris and elsewhere remind us that we live in a very fractured and fragmented world. There is a pressing importance to be here with a gathering of those involved in education to look at what it means to work and live well together.’
Organised by the Church of England Education Office and the Revd Tom Wilson of the St Philip’s Centre, delegates included representatives from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Muslim Youth Foundation, Church of England Schools, the Catholic Education Service, the Madani Schools Federation, and the Methodist Church. Delegates fed back their discussions to representatives of the Department for Education including Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools.
Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer at The Church of England said, ‘The discussion and exchange of ideas between people from different faith backgrounds was really helpful in finding common ground and creating the space to explore how religion in education can be a societal building block. Groups looked at practical questions about how the concept of living well together should be taught and by whom? Sixth formers were particularly insightful, suggesting that it should be cross curricula and that parents are also included in living well together programmes.’
The Rt Hon Frank Field, MP, spoke in the afternoon calling for the development of a social highway code, to reinvest in social capital, arguing that there is a ‘need to capitalise on diversity and see it as our strength.’
Delegate, Peter Adams, Community Peace builder at St Mary’s Church Luton and Chair of governors for Wenlock Junior School in Luton said, ‘At our school we have a duty to promote trust, friendship and harmony as we deliver the prevent agenda, combating violence and extremism. Today it has been great to talk about what makes for peace, respect, honour and open mindedness. At my group I spoke with a chair of governors from a Muslim school, discovering our similarities and the similar challenges we have in seeking to be true to our faith in the world of education’.