Call for more research into impact of Christian ethos schools
Published 12 November 2009 | Jenna Lyle
|PIC1|A new report out today is calling for more research to determine the effect of schools with a Christian ethos on their pupils.
Theology think tank Theos and Christian educational charity the Stapleford Centre carried out a comprehensive review of research into schools with a Christian ethos over the last decade and found that a lack of evidence meant that “very little” could be concluded about their impact.
Nearly a third of maintained schools in England and Wales have a religious character.
The report supported some of the findings of existing research, including claims that students at pupils at Christian-based schools have a more positive attitude towards religion and better spiritual health.
There was some evidence, they said, to support claims that pupils at church schools are higher achievers than pupils at secular schools.
“This is not due to their selecting pupils who are more likely to achieve. There is a real ‘school effect’,” they said.
The report concludes, however, that the available research is “very limited” and calls for further research to identify the nature and purpose of Christian ethos schools, the relationship between their structures, processes and Christian ethos, and the impact upon their pupils.
Theos director Paul Woolley said the report, written by education researcher Dr Elizabeth Green, was a “wake-up call” for anyone involved in faith-based education.
“I strongly support Christian ethos schools, but if we're to properly understand the impact that they’re having on pupils, new research is essential," he said.
The report’s research supervisor Trevor Cooling said the lack of available evidence was “a cause of concern” given the high level of investment in Christian ethos schools by the government, churches, religious organisations and parents.
He said: “We need research which tells us exactly what difference is made by planned interventions in individual schools where those interventions are clearly related to the Christian ethos of the school. Only then will we begin to understand the impact these schools have on pupils.”
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