Cambridge theological college inspection gives resounding ‘confidence’



In the same month when the Church of England General Synod will discuss the next phase of a radical change in the formation of those training for ministry, Westcott House Theological College in Cambridge has received an unprecedented level of confidence in a Ministry Council Inspection Report.

The Inspectors, who visited Westcott House for a week in November, praised the "generous and open" and "supportive and well integrated" community of "able and gifted ordinands and impressive staff".

The Inspectors commended in particular:
  • the national leadership shown in the area of the formation of potential theological educators
  • excellent training in pastoral care and practical theology, including the Manchester urban ministry placement programme which stretches ordinands in both understanding and skills
  • the high standard of corporate worship and opportunities for spiritual growth
  • attention to working in groups and preparing for collaboration in ministry
  • a growing number of ethnic minority students "who clearly have a voice and an assured place in the House"

The Principal of Westcott House, Canon Martin Seeley today said:

"The Inspectors have declared overall confidence in Westcott House.  Their report expresses confidence in 15 out of 16 inspection criteria. This is an unprecedented level of commendation for a residential theological college.  Westcott House is, and will continue to be, a creative and diverse community where people can learn and study for Anglican ministry in the 21st century.

“We will engage positively with the Ministry Council’s report on Formation for Ministry and the new framework for HE Validation, which is to be discussed at the General Synod on Thursday 9 February.  We will also seek to build on the firm foundations of Westcott’s relationship with the University of Cambridge, which the Inspectors identified as a particular strength of the House."

The University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, said:

"I am delighted with this Report.  It underlines the essential relationship between the University of Cambridge and Westcott House, and with all of the Cambridge Theological Federation, not just for the unparalleled opportunities for training future theological educators but because our partnership provides future parish priests with the resources to serve in the most demanding situations in this country and overseas through rapidly changing times."

The Bishop of Leicester and Chair of the Westcott Council, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, said:

"I am delighted that the Inspectors endorsed the emphasis of Westcott on the value of learning in community through the attention to formation in ’holiness, wisdom and compassion’.

“They also recognised the House’s self-understanding as a ’community of differences’ and saw this as providing a context for ’mutual understanding, respect and sensitivity’.

“All of this has been undergirded by the House’s membership of the ecumenical Cambridge Theological Federation and by Westcott’s well-developed range of overseas links which means that training takes place in a ’context that has an imaginative grasp of the world Church."

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