Diocesan education conference brings 200 delegates to Leeds

Education experts from across our diocese and beyond have gathered for the Annual Senior Leaders’ Conference held in the heart of Leeds.

Some 200 delegates took their seats at the Queen's Hotel to be welcomed by Bishop Jonathan Gibbs, chair of the Diocesan Board of Education and Richard Noake, Diocesan Director of Education.

Students from the Bishop Young Church of England Academy, Leeds began the day of listening and learning by leading the opening act of worship.

Mary Hawes, the church’s National Children and Youth Adviser then gave a presentation entitled “Don’t mention the spiritual”.

“Children are spiritual beings wherever they are and churches have an awful lot to learn from schools,” said Mary, pictured.

She introduced ways of weaving spirituality in its many forms into the school day by spotting situations which could be viewed as windows, mirrors or doors in the way they might give vision, reflection or openings for spiritual discussion.

Professor of Urban Education at the University of London, Kathryn Riley spoke on how schools must be supported as places of belonging and the afternoon session began with children from Trinity All Saints, Bingley CoE Primary School, who led worship.

Staff from the diocese’s Children and Young People’s Team were amongst many stalls offering a huge range of resources.

Bishop of Ripon Dr Helen-Ann Hartley presented on “What’s your mountain, what’s your river and who are your people? Education and the formation of identity.”

She also livened up the post-lunch slot by producing a purple ukulele and serenading the audience with a Maori hymn, before exploring children’s identities can grow and develop.

“Education plays such a crucial role in helping us locate our place in the world,” she said.

Bishop Helen-Ann was followed by Shonette Bason-Wood, who focussed on the importance of nurturing happiness amongst our young people.

Guests included the Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, Jonathan Gough and the Archdeacon of Pontefract, Peter Townley.

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