Senior Research fellow at the National Institute for Christian Education Research (NICER) at Canterbury Christ Church University.
My main research interests are faith schools in a plural society; teaching and learning of other faith traditions in faith schools; religious education and social cohesion; Christian education in England and Wales; religious identity development of young people; and intercultural education, and students’ spiritual development.
My present position is as lead research fellow on the Ten Leading Schools: The spiritual influence of Christian-ethos secondary education project - an initiative set up by the National Institute of Christian Education Research (NICER) at Canterbury Christ Church University, working in association with Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU) at the University of Warwick.
My role as a qualitative researcher is to work in partnership with schools and build a picture of each school’s approach to promoting spiritual development. The aim is to offer other secondary schools with a Christian foundation case studies that may stimulate them to reflect on, and improve their own work of spiritual development with their students. The findings will also be employed to contribute to the international academic debate on the distinctiveness and effectiveness of Christian-ethos secondary schools.
Prior to becoming a full time researcher, I taught Religious Education in Church of England, Catholic and community secondary schools in the North East of England.
Sustaining a deeply Christian ethos: Church of England secondary schools’ admissions policies and the generation of spiritual capital. International Conference of Christianity, Education and Contemporary Culture at Canterbury Christ Church University, July 2017
We study the Bible, but in a deeper meaning kind of way”: student engagement with Christian scripture in Religious Education in Church of England schools. The place of scripture and sacred texts in contemporary Religious Education Heythrop College, March 2017
The Findings: features of Christian-ethos secondary schools that contribute to positive spiritual development for their pupils, Ten Leading Schools Research Consultation Day, University of Warwick, November, 2016
The contribution of Religious Education to the spiritual development of students in ten Christian-ethos secondary schools, ISREV, Chicago, July 2016
Catholic primary school parents: a sense of belonging to the Catholic school? Portsmouth diocesan teachers conference, Swanwick, June 2016
Ten Leading Schools: the features of Christian-ethos secondary schools that contribute to positive spiritual development for their pupils, Annual conference of the Catholic Association of Teachers, Schools and Colleges, Chester, February, 2016
Emerging themes: the features of Christian-ethos secondary schools that contribute to positive spiritual development for their pupils, Ten Leading Schools Research Consultation Day, University of Warwick, September 2015
A time to reflect- RE & Collective Worship: features of Christian-ethos secondary schools that contribute to positive spiritual development for their pupils, Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education, St Mary’s University, September 2015 Twickenham.
Opportunities and Challenges for New Evangelization: a case study of Catholic primary school parents in England and Wales, keynote speaker, Department of Evangelization and Catechesis, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales symposium, London, Nov 5th 2014
A sense of belonging to the Catholic Church or to the Catholic school, St Mary’s Centre annual symposium, North Wales, Oct 2014
Maintaining the memory of Catholic ritual: an ethnographic study of three Catholic secondary schools in England, British Association for the Study of Religions, Durham, Sept 2011
The Catholic school community: a generator of bonds and bridges, European Network of Religious Education Contextual Approach, London, May 2011
Publications and research outputs
Fragmented Catholicity and Social Cohesion: Faith schools in a plural society, (2012), Oxford: Peter Lang
Casson, A., Cooling, T., Francis, L.J., (2017) Lessons in Spiritual Development: Insights from Christian-Ethos Schools. London: Church House Publishing
2018: A Sense of Belonging: Spiritual Development in Christian-Ethos Secondary Schools in Christian Faith, Formation and Education. Eds. R. Stuart-Buttle & J. Shortt. Palgrave Macmillan.
2018: Catholic identities in Catholic schools: Fragmentation and bricolage in Researching Catholic Education: contemporary perspectives, Ed. S. Whittle, Springer
‘Religious’ and ‘Spiritual’ Capitals: The experience of the celebration of Mass in the English Secondary School, (2013), International Studies in Catholic Education 5:2
The Right to “Bricolage”: Catholic Pupils’ Perception of their Religious Identity and the Implications for Catholic schools in England, (2011), Journal of Beliefs and Values: Studies in Religion and Education 32.2, pp.207-218
A Case Study of Catholic Primary School Parents in England and Wales (2014) available at http://www.cbcew.org.uk/CBCEW-Home/Departments/Evangelisation-and-Catechesis/Crossing-the-Threshold-Non-Churchgoing-Catholics/Case-Study
The teaching of other faiths in Catholic schools in the North East of England. (2003) Farmington Institute WR47