Saturday, 5 July 2008

Faith schools - ethos or faith making the difference?

Now I am no fan of mixing state-funded education with promoting (I would use 'indoctrinating' when applied to uncritical infant minds) a particular religion, yet I have to accept that on many counts faith schools do a better job of educating or kids than non-faith ones. What is behind this differential?
I have just started a thread about the ethos of faith schools in my favourite governors' forum:

"An article by Zoe Williams challenges us to explore the real reasons for the (relative) success of faith schools c.f. secular ones.

Let us just, for the moment, put aside the 'religion' bit and suggest that there may be something about the ethos of those schools that generates/stimulates more effective learning behaviours by their pupils. (Admittedly the parents are part of this as well and interestingly en passant Zoe highlights an observation about a possibly anomalous belief that there is less social deprivation in faith schools - and we all know that social deprivation links to poor achievement.)

I don't know what that ethos is, but I'll take a guess that it has something to do with discipline, application and respect. And where that ethos comes from is an interesting chicken/egg question - does religious belief stimulate certain values/behaviours or do people with certain values/behaviours find themselves attracted to religion? Surely it is possible to have an equivalent set of values/behaviours as a Christina/Jew/Hindu?... without subscribing to those beliefs and, if that is the case then what do our non-faith schools need to do about it?

How interesting might it be to explore the similarities between the ethos of successful non-faith schools with that of faith schools?"

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