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Bishop condemns changes to education

THE BISHOP of Guildford, the Right Rev Michael Adie, yesterday renewed his attacks on education policy, accusing the Government of lacking vision and of introducing too much change, writes Diana Hinds.

Preaching at Blackburn Cathedral in Lancashire to mark 'education Sunday', the Bishop, who is chairman of the Church of England Board of Education, said: 'Politicians combine power with knowledge and experience, so they don't just discuss education, they change it, and too much . . . For those in the system, the changes are coming upon us daily. Some greet the changes as liberating, producing freedom and responsibility, choice and diversity; others regard them as distracting, producing uncertainty, confusion and division.'

He said a 'common vision' for education was needed, and that if the Government could not provide it, then the Church should set out its own vision. 'Where there is no vision, the people perish,' the Bishop warned.

Taking issue with the belief expressed in the White Paper that 'parents know best the needs of their children', he argued that parents and teachers needed one another to bring out the best.

The Government's examination league tables, published for the first time last autumn, drew criticism. 'Our education system should value every individual - not as units to be hounded through exams so the league tables look impressive . . . nor as hands to be trained for the job market, but as people, individuals. Each has his or her own gifts and abilities, and each should be uniquely valued.'

Defending the importance of religious education, the Bishop said: 'People of other faiths, and none, need a working knowledge of Christian faith and life because it has influenced and enriched our history, literature, music, art.'