A history of the regional theological courses and an evaluation of their effectiveness in the initial training of the clergy of the Church of England
The purpose of this thesis is firstly to provide a co-ordinated history of the development of the network of Regional Theological Courses which has grown, since the founding of the Southwark Ordination Course in 1960, to a position whereby 2000 the network was providing part-tune training for about half of the ordinands of the Church of England. Secondly there is a critical assessment of the effectiveness of these Courses both relative to the more traditional Theological Colleges and having regard to the work of those ordained and in parochial ministry. The thesis draws heavily on unpublished primary source documentation from the archives of the Courses, together with interviews with key personnel and a survey of those who have trained on the Courses, their subsequent supervisors and diocesan Bishops. Chapters 1 and 2 describe the development of the Courses from 1960-1979 and Chapter 3 is about the watershed of 1979 when unexpectedly all the Courses were validated for training Stipendiary as well as Non-Stipendiary clergy. Chapter 4 introduces critical questions raised by key interviewees and Chapter 5 describes further interviews with current Course Principals. The period from 1979 to 2000 is covered by Chapter 6 which describes central Reports and debates and Chapters 7-10 which show the development of the individual Courses in the Regions. Selected curriculum issues are raised in Chapter 11 and this is followed by the results of the Survey of Bishops in Chapter 12, of Supervisory Clergy in Chapter 13 and of Past Students in Chapter 14. Chapter 15 lists conclusions and recommendations. Further information from the surveys that is not included in the main text has been provided as supplementary material.