Diocese of Carlisle

    Diocesan Director of Education to step down from role

    Latest News
    28 Jan. 2022

    The Director of Education for the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – has announced she is to leave her role.

    Vanessa O’Dea joined the Diocese in January 2020 after more than 14 years teaching religious education, latterly at St Teresa’s School in Surrey, where she was also Head of Boarding.

    The former St Bees School pupil returned to the county where she grew up, having completed her GCSEs and A Levels at St Bees before gaining an MA at the University of Edinburgh, specialising in Religious Studies and History of Art.

    Announcing her decision to move on, Vanessa explained: “It has been a privilege to serve our church schools in the diocese and to draw alongside all the wonderful pupils, staff and parents who make up our school communities. It has equally been wonderful to lead a diocesan education team, whose members are so passionate about providing the best support they can for our church schools

    “I arrived in post just a few months before the first lockdown took effect and since then I have been staggered and humbled by the resilience shown by our school communities and diocesan team as they faced up to the huge challenges that the pandemic created.

    “I prepare to leave my post, thankful that I have been able to help lead on and deliver much-needed pastoral support during this time and I give thanks for the opportunity to lead such a dedicated group of people. They will all continue to be in my prayers.”

    As Director of Education, Vanessa has managed the education team, leading on the implementation of the Board of Education’s Vision and Strategy and ensuring continued development of effective networks and partnerships both locally and nationally.

    The diocese is responsible for 104 C of E schools across the county, along with 13 academies and two affiliated schools (non-Diocese of Carlisle church schools in The Good Shepherd Multi Academy Trust).

    The Rev Andrew Towner, Chair of the Carlisle Diocesan Board of Education (DBE), said: “Vanessa has been an excellent, compassionate, hard-working and much appreciated Diocesan Director of Education, and her time in post has had a significant influence on our work across the county.

    “We are very grateful not only for all she has done, but also for the way in which she has done it, modelling the distinctive ethos of Christ-like love and mutual service which is so precious to us as a DBE. I know our Heads and all her colleagues will miss her encouragement, both in listening and offering insight, especially whist persevering through such strained times of both pressure and opportunity.”

    The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, said: “I am sorry to learn of Vanessa’s decision to stand down from her role as Director of Education in the Diocese. She will move on with our thanks and continued prayers.

    “I would particularly pay tribute to the way in which she and the education team have drawn alongside our church schools during the pandemic, ensuring that the welfare of pupils, staff and parents have been uppermost in all considerations. Vanessa has been an outstanding Director of Education and we shall miss her a lot.”

    Vanessa will leave the role in April, with current Deputy Director of Education, Charlotte Tudway, leading the DBE team and their experienced group of consultants until the post is permanently filled.


    For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Head of Communications, on 07469 153658 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.