CofE National Children and Youth Posts Vulnerable

You may know I have a petition running (since lunchtime on Wednesday 25th January).

As I type there are about 600 signatures.  I am after 1000 by lunch time this Friday, so I am keen to keep getting the word out to those who have not seen it, not had the chance to comment – or might be wondering WHY and WHAT?

What is Proposed?

The Chief Education Officer is planning to re-structure the Archbishops Council Education Division.  The only posts being considered vulnerable in this re-structuring are those of our National Children’s Offier and our National Youth Officer (The re-structuring – if it goes ahead would see a reduction in fulltime staffing from two to one – with a renamed position of “Going for Growth Advisor” and the effective removal of any reference to “Children” or “Youth” from national posts in the Education Division.   Whilst there is no loss of funding, two does not go into one – someone will lose their job and the money saved will be spent on projects and consultants commissioned by the remaining Officer in the new role.

 On the 6th January, Diocesan Youth Officers and Childrens Work Advisers became aware of this . . .

We were shocked.  I have never seen so much activity on our networks in relation to any one issue or concern in my six years as Adviser in Chichester Diocese.  Shocked because:

  • There has been (and there is not) any consultation taking place – other than with the two staff members concerned and the Chief Education Officer.  Nobody else have been invited to comment.  As Diocesan workers, we only know because we were sent the information (the rationale and the job description for the new post) by someone other than the Chief Education Officer.
  • This is being done very, very swiftly.  We became aware of this on the 6th January, the Officers concerned had until noon yesterday to submit “counter proposals” (30th January) and, “interviews” are scheduled for the 14th February.
  • What is being proposed makes no sense:
    • Childrens and Youth Specalisms are very different.  That is why we have TWO national posts, “Children” and “Youth” . . .
    • The “Going fro Growth Advisor” would largely be working to a time limited (the Going for Growth Strategy finishes in 2015).  This dilutes the “general” functions of advocacy, partnership engagement and policy influencing as they will be working to a particualar “strategy”.
    • The rationale implies that TWO people cannot deliver what is expected – and it is being argued that our National Officers lack the skills to deliver “Going for Growth” . . . reducing the staffing to ONE (hence lessing the skills base, the expertise available in terms of full time staff . . . and then expecting this remaining Officer to be able to commission / appoint others to run projects that THEY are perceived as not having the skills to deliver is – to put it bluntly, DAFT.
    • Key Stakeholders, who would be required to work with the “Going for Growth Advisor” will have lost confidence in what the national Education Division is doing and the way in which they have gone about doing it – this will hamper the work going forward.

Why a Petition?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what else to do.  Representations are being made (and have) through Bishops, Senior Diocesan Staff etc.  As I understand it, nationally . . . however, apart from a letter sent on the 16th January addressed to Directors of Education (another example of the lack of awareness at the Centre about who holds the brief for the work the church does with children and young people beyond formal education . . . We do not all reside in a Board of Education in Diocese’) the process, such as it is, does not give me – or my colleagues a way of engaging. 

It has been heartening, that over this short period of time – just seven days since the petition went live, I have gathered over 600 signatures – my belief, (possibly misguided) was that the decision about how the church understands and engages with work with children and young people – and how the National Church sets the tone – should NOT be decided by a lone person in Westminster, without that peson listening to and appreciating the views of everyone from retired Bishops to volunteer youth leaders, concerned parishoners to Diocean advisers to others in the voluntary sector who care deeply about the role WE play as the church in the work with children and young people across the Country . . .

Not convinced?  I will let others speak for why they have signed in a follow up post . . . If my arguments don’t convince you – please read what they have said (I will post this at about 2.30pm this afternoon – keep an eye out!)

You can Read (and Sign) the Petition Here:



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