When God calls mums and dads to be ordained in the Church of England, it is our job as a College to support that call and the training journey. Lots of our ordinands are juggling study, ministry and family life, and these students are always willing to meet with potential ordinands to talk through how it works in practice. Please do let us know if you would like to meet an ordinand in this situation when you come to an Open Day.
It is entirely possible to go on maternity or take paternity leave during training. The college will work with each individual to discern how they would like to manage this. It is possible to take up to a year of maternity leave and still be eligible for support from your diocese, if you are receiving any. Academic regulations enable you to go on maternity leave at any point in the academic year, and to return at that same point a year later. Ordinands who would prefer to take less than a year of maternity leave can negotiate this, too, with the College and their diocese. We encourage new fathers to take paternity leave as well. This is usually 3 weeks, but your Formation Group Tutor will want to talk to you about your individual circumstances. Ordinands are students, not employees, so paid parental leave is not currently available to couples in training.
New Parents Training
There will be challenges for families during training. As well as the regular mid-week teaching day or evening, there are also 5 residential weekends and one residential week every year. Breastfeeding mums are welcome to bring their baby with them, and to bring another adult to help out. You are also welcome to bring the baby to College on your regular mid-week teaching day or evening, while breastfeeding. We do not currently offer a creche in College or at residentials. Every ordinand is part of a Formation Group, and we encourage ordinands to talk to their Formation Group Tutor if particular challenges arise.
Parents with Children on the Autistic Spectrum
Training and entering ministry as a parent or carer of an autistic child can be daunting, and it can be difficult to find ways of explaining the particular joys and difficulties of life at home and then what this means for the shape of future ministry.
This group meets for an hour at residential weekends. It’s open to all parents or carers of children who have been diagnosed or are thought to be on the autistic spectrum or having similar additional needs that bring particular challenges (as well as blessings!) in training and ministry.
The meetings provide a space for mutual encouragement, an opportunity to share openly with other parents and carers who understand the experience of caring for and parenting autistic children, and a group of people with whom to pray. A chaplain and a staff member who is also parenting an autistic child attend to support and share experience. Outside of these meetings, support and encouragement is provided via group email.
Do feel free to be in touch with the admissions team if you have any questions or concerns as a parent or carer and would like to know more about this support group.
Spouses, Partners and Key Supporters
Spouses, partners and key supporters of those in training are welcome to come into College with their ordinand on any mid-week teaching day or evening. We do, however, ask that you let us know in advance, for catering purposes. If you would like to do this regularly, we offer subsidised places either to audit our courses or to take an accredited course with us.
We also invite spouses, partners and key supporters to various social events in our regional College centres, and to hear a visiting speaker from time to time. We also invite families to join us for 2 Sundays of the year, to share in College worship and mealtime, and for a dedicated spouse/partner/key supporter session after lunch.
As a College we are still learning how to support families well through training, and so we value your feedback.
Please see the links below to some stories of St Mellitus students who have had children while training, and to some financial resources: