Parents – not the state – should be the ultimate authority regarding a child's education, according to the Evangelical Alliance.
"As the tax-paying funders of education, it is parents who are primarily responsible for the way that children are educated," said Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy for the EA and the author of a new resource released today.
"It's important to remember that the state is only there to maintain our school system," he said.
The report, 'You're not alone: a guide for the Christian family in education,' observed that churches need to do far more in helping parents engage with their children's education.
"Parents are the primary socialisers and therefore hold primary responsibility for their child's education," Landrum told Christian Today.
"Too often Christian parents have felt alone when trying to navigate the education system. We want to see parents better informed about what's going on but also far better supported by the wider church around them, so that their children are raised in schools that respect their faith," Landrum said.
"We want them to know they are not alone."
Landrum told Christian Today there is a danger that "parents with regard to education have slipped into a mindset where they defer repsonsibility to the agencies of the state to educate their children" and that churches have been also been guilty of "slipping into a delegating mindset".
The challenge of engaging with education as a parent was one universally felt, although Christian parents "should have a distinctively Christian view on how their child should be educated" and there is a particular challenge when "the school's values clash with Christian values".
Rather than allow the perceived notion that the state has the ultimate authority regarding a child's education, the EA is seeking to educate and empower parents to make positive contributions to the life at school and encourage churches to offer practical support.
"Sometimes parents stand back from getting more involved in their children's schools, and they don't realise how much they have to offer. Whether it's through volunteering in the classroom, serving as a school governor, or even setting up a new free school, there are huge opportunities for families to make a vital contribution."
The EA is launching the website www.education.eauk.org to inform Christian parents about the education system and their rights and responsibilities, aiming to enable them to take a more active role in the education of their children.
The report contextualised the role of the parent as part of "our gospel mandate to 'disciple the nations'" and drew the reader's attention to the "unparalleled" contribution Christianity has made to education historically.
"We hope that this resource will inspire parents, families, churches and local communities to see how they can take a fuller role in education, and to support the work of teachers and schools," he said.