Lancashire & Cumbria Theological Partnership

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Statement regarding the future of LCTP by the Bishops of Penrith and Blackburn

LCTP (and previously the Carlisle and Blackburn Diocesan Training Institute) has provided training to Ordinands, Readers in training and a significant number of independent students over the last twenty years, most recently as a three-way partnership between the University of Cumbria and Carlisle and Blackburn dioceses.

In the summer of 2014 the LCTP Council formed a working party to consider the future shape of LCTP in light of the ministerial training needs of Carlisle and Blackburn dioceses. This was prompted by a number of developments which significantly impacted the context in which LCTP has been operating. These changes included the removal of governmental HEFCE funding structures and the transition to student fees; the introduction of Common Awards validated through Durham University as the Church of England’s national provision for ordination training; and a recent downturn in numbers of students coming to LCTP through selection. Some of these factors impact the financial stability of LCTP. Some relate to the student experience being offered. And some are about the general educational and training environment in which LCTP finds itself operating.

The working party completed its review in February, and presented its findings to the LCTP Council, which includes senior representatives from the three partner institutions. The outcome of this process is that it has become clear that, given the significantly changed environment in which LCTP operates, the Partnership had become unsustainable in its current form. This has prompted the two dioceses to initiate a further process of exploration into how in the future they might provide training and theological education for licensed ministry.

The University of Cumbria are clear that, with the change to Common Awards via Durham University, it no longer makes sense to be a partner within LCTP. The two dioceses see the future of training provision differently – Blackburn are working on a partnership arrangement with an alternative existing training organisation and Carlisle are looking to remodel and repurpose LCTP into a vehicle to deliver a range of ministerial training and equipping, including for Readers and Ordinands. Each diocese is doing further work to flesh out what these options might mean in practice so that different provision can be in place for ministerial training from the autumn of 2016.

The purpose of this statement is, first, to affirm the commitment of both Carlisle and Blackburn dioceses to continue to provide the highest level of support and theological training to those offering for ordained or licensed ministry. Second, the two dioceses have committed to underwrite and support the operation of LCTP in its existing form until the summer of 2016. This will ensure that all existing students can complete their academic awards, and will allow time for a stable and sustainable future for training in the two dioceses to be developed for the autumn of 2016. And third, we want to express our enormous and sincere gratitude to the LCTP staff, in particular Revd Dr Roger Latham, Dr Karl Möller and Ms Tricia Turner – and including the various honorary tutors – for their care, support, hard work and enthusiasm for the work of LCTP, and all the good things their commitment means and has meant for the lives and ministry of so many.

The precise detail of what will replace LCTP after summer 2016 is still being worked out, although it is clear that LCTP as it currently exists will cease. Each diocese is working on future plans as a matter of urgency, recognising that prospective students need to know what will be offered and how that might shape their training and vocation. Blackburn and Carlisle dioceses remain committed to those whose training pathways continue to 2017 and, as dioceses, we shall work with the individuals concerned to arrange alternative providers for the third year of their IME Phase1.

The content of this statement may come as a shock or surprise for many, and the LCTP wish to apologise for uncertainty over the last few months while these complex matters have been discussed and decided – conversations that have often been sensitive and at times confidential.

While some things have taken time to clarify it remains absolutely clear that all involved with LCTP and the two dioceses are completely committed to support and sustain the training of those who are currently students within LCTP, and to ensure that that is done with the high quality of experience and teaching that has been a hallmark of LCTP.

We hope this statement is useful to you, and brings some explanation to what has happened so far, even though what will happen after summer 2016 is still to be developed within each diocese. And we thank you for your involvement with, and contribution to, all the excellent things that are being achieved through LCTP in its current form.

Bishop Robert
Bishop of Penrith and Chair of LCTP

Bishop Julian
Bishop of Blackburn