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Multi-faith services for all

I wanted to respond to Andrew Copson's letter ("Majority don't need chaplains", TES January 27) about my comments at a National Ecumenical Agency in Further EducationFaith in FE conference on chaplaincy in FE.

I agree with Andrew's concerns that pastoral support and moral guidance for young people in colleges should be provided in a range of different ways appropriate to their individual needs, including their spiritual needs.

The provision of multi-faith chaplaincy services in a college is one way of meeting these needs, but not the only one.

And the nature of these services will vary considerably from college to college.

There are many examples of excellent practice across the FE sector.

Some simply provide prayer or meeting rooms on the campus. Others will provide more comprehensive multi-faith services.

And some do not provide any chaplaincy facilities on the site, but make arrangements with the local community groups.

What is important is that colleges and their leaders take this issue seriously and have the flexibility and willingness to respond to the needs and beliefs of their students in different ways.

The LSC and the National Ecumenical Agency in FE have produced guidance on this issue in A handbook towards a whole college approach to chaplaincy for a pluralist society which makes clear that a fundamental principal of chaplaincy services is to meet the needs of students of any faith or of none.

I believe this has to be the right way forward

Bill Rammell, MP

Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education

House of Commons

London SW1

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