At Westcott, we aim to ensure that our students learn to integrate all aspects of their learning, readily making connections between their daily lives and Christian faith, their academic studies and their placement experiences. By embedding reflective practice at the heart of ministerial formation, we seek to equip life-long ministers of the gospel with habits of learning that refresh and sustain them.
To ensure their academic enquiry is related to missional and pastoral engagement, all our ordinands are attached to a local parish or college chapel. Supervised by the incumbent or a designated priest, our students learn to read the context in which they are placed and how mission relates to it, alongside honing their liturgical and homiletical skills.
Church Context Placements
As well as a weekly attachment, students undertake a long placement, usually of around eight weeks, during term or in the summer vacation. Many are Manchester based and are overseen by Westcott’s Manchester Tutor, whose rich and varied ministry in this epicentre of social, ecclesial and economic revolution has inspired countless ordinands over the years. Living in Westcott’s Manchester house and placed in parishes according to their formational needs and interests, students immerse themselves in the life of congregation and community, and the practice of ministry. Students whose home circumstances keep them in Cambridge are placed in a parish, again chosen with their formational needs in mind, taking advantage of the variety of contexts Cambridgeshire has to offer, from new towns to rural benefices, from pioneer to cathedral ministry. Many students fit in additional church placements during the shorter vacations, too.
Social Context Placements
To equip our ordinands to think about ministry in a non-ecclesial environment where religious literacy cannot be taken for granted, all students are required to undertake at least one Social Context Placement during their time at Westcott. These can range from prison and hospital chaplaincy placements to working with secular charities and institutions that have a pastoral or social justice edge. Placement supervisors are encouraged to challenge student assumptions and to stretch their thinking, and students are encouraged to engage with reflective practice so that their experience can feed their academic work.
PC3 stands for Participation in Classroom, Context and Community and is a contextual programme run jointly by Westcott House and Ridley Hall. A diverse group of students from across the colleges meet weekly for communion and a shared meal followed by an afternoon of reflective practice where attachment and placement experiences are teased out. Getting to the heart of the matter provides a rich afternoon of debate and fellowship, while honing habits of theological reflection.