Farmington Scholars

28th September 2019

Here is the Mayor of Wirral, Tony Smith, Mrs Swaby and Farmington mentor Joy Schmack who all attended the RE presentations from Wirral Farmington Scholars promoting community cohesion with places of worship and developing links with local Wirral schools.

Summary of the History of the Farmington Institute

The idea of the Farmington Institute was conceived in the Second World War when the Hon Robert Wills was serving in the Grenadier Guards. He made up his mind that if he lived through the war he would do something to make the world a better place. Although he was badly wounded, he did survive, and some twenty years later was in a position to found the Farmington Institute.

Initially, the Institute concentrated on providing written materials which he felt would be helpful to develop values and standards among young people. In the late 1980s, Mr Wills decided to lead the Institute in a new direction, that of investing in RE teachers by developing a kind of ‘Rhodes Scholarship’. The aim was to give RE teachers in secondary schools a term out of school to study at a university. A selected number of RE teachers would be awarded scholarships to undertake research which would be useful in their teaching, and be of help to other teachers. Mr Wills came to see that RE teachers were often in one-person departments and that RE was a ‘Cinderella’ subject. Through awarding teachers prestigious scholarships and enabling them to return to study in a university under a supervisor, he felt that the Institute was building up a body of expertise in Religious Education within the teaching profession and improving morale among teachers.

In 1997 Farmington won a Millennium grant, which enabled the Institute to extend its scholarships to teachers responsible for RE in primary schools.

Today RE is an academically respected discipline and one of the fastest growing subjects at GCSE and A level. This is in no small part due to the foresight of Mr Wills and the work of the Institute.