Queen’s awarded more than £118,000 grant for neurodiversity research project

1 July 2024

The Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham has been awarded £118,756 for research and development of good practice in the formation of neurodivergent lay and ordained ministers as part of a joint project with St Mellitus College. Revd Dr Allison Fenton, Anglican admissions tutor at the Foundation, and Rev Ed Olsworth-Peter, Director of Innovation at St Mellitus, will be working in partnership to lead this project.

Rev Fenton, who was diagnosed with dyslexia recently, said: “The Church of England is moving in the right direction on academic preparation and neurodivergence. A lot of students are coming to train in theological education colleges and being diagnosed while they are in training – probably because it was not picked up when they were at school. The Queen’s Foundation and other TEIs have been working hard in recent years to offer neurodivergent students alternative assessment types and to provide testing. In terms of formation, we are working to ensure that all people have a chance to flourish and develop into the person that God has created them to be. This is about preparing your whole person for ministry, and having different approaches and asking different kinds of questions when necessary”.

Rev Olsworth-Peter who was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia in his early 20s’ said: “When I was training for ordination more than 20 years ago, there was limited understanding and acknowledgment of the impact of neurodivergence within Christian ministry, and I would have valued support in the challenges this can bring in ministry as well as the recognition of the gift that this can be to the church. Over the last 2 years at St Mellitus, we have been exploring what the formational support of neurodivergent leaders in training might look like and how this needs a different approach. It’s great to be able to take this work deeper in partnership with The Queens Foundation.”

This project will be supported by a steering group made up of representatives from the National Ministry Development Team and other TEIs, and in 2025 the hope is to bring together staff across Anglican TEIs for a national symposium to discuss what good practice could look like in this area of formation.

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