Press Release

06 December 2011

A unique national research project to investigate the impact of a distinctively Christian ethos on pupils' learning will be launched by the National Institute for Christian Education Research (NICER) at Christ Church today (Tuesday 6 December).

As a dedicated research centre of the Faculty of Education at Christ Church, NICER will unveil the first research project of its kind which investigates the implementation of Christian distinctiveness in teaching and learning in Christian-sponsored secondary schools.

Professor Trevor Cooling, Director of NICER at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “This will be the only piece of national research to investigate the impact of secondary schools systematically implementing a distinctively Christian ethos in their approaches to teaching and learning. The Church brands its schools as distinctively Christian but research-wise we need to know the impact this has on students, schools and the classroom.

“The research will entail intensive work with up to five secondary schools from various locations around the UK which are sponsored by Christian organisations, including the Church of England. 

“By working with staff on developing their understanding of the distinctively Christian ethos of their school and at how it might influence their approach to learning and teaching, we'll then be able to assess the impact it has on staff, students and parents."

The overall aim is to generate evidence that assesses the impact of the Christian approach to teaching and learning developed by Transforming Lives, a previous three-year research-based development project into a Christian approach to teaching different subjects.  A training toolkit for teachers and student teachers will also be created.

Part-funded by the Jerusalem Trust, whose trustees include Sir Timothy Sainsbury and Lady Susan Sainsbury, the launch of the project will welcome the Right Reverend John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford as the main speaker. The Bishop speaks for the Church of England on Education. In his address, titled “In whole or in part? The Christian contribution to shaping educational values today”, the Bishop will challenge the sacred-secular divide in education which has increasingly marginalised a Christian world-view.

The Bishop said: “All truth is God's truth and a Christian approach to teaching offers the 'complete and generous education' that a healthy society needs. At a time when education is increasingly seen in instrumentalist terms, a Christian approach to teaching is a richer and more effective route to the shaping of young lives of rounded character and citizenship”.

Professor Robin Baker, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: "We are delighted that NICER is already gaining a national reputation for its work. This research centre represents an explicit statement of our Christian foundation and our deep commitment to and involvement in education, locally and nationally."


Notes to Editor

Photo credit: Copyright Richard Hanson

Transforming Lives

Transforming Lives is a previous three year project focussing on the development of the Christian approach to teaching the different subjects, which works in state school classrooms with pupils of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds. The approach enables teachers to identify key Christian virtues and ways of thinking that are relevant to their subject and incorporate developing these into the teaching methods used. The project was led by Professor Trevor Cooling.

The National Institute for Christian Education Research (NICER)

NICER is derived from the foundation missions of the Church of England and Canterbury Christ Church University.

The aim of the National Institute of Christian Education Research is to support and conduct research and development in order to strengthen the work of Christians in education, together with the mission of church schools, colleges and universities.

In particular the Institute will enter into collaboration and partnership with other institutions and bodies that have similar goals, particularly other faith-based higher education institutions and centres.

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students, and five campuses across Kent, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional expertise.

  • In 2010 the Faculty of Education received 'outstanding' grades in its Ofsted report for primary, secondary and post-compulsory programmes, together with its employment-based routes into teaching. The University's primary provision has the unique record of having been awarded the highest Ofsted grades in all inspections since 1996.
  • 94.3 % of our recent graduates gain employment or are in further study six months after graduating (2009/10 DLHE survey).
  • Along with over a thousand undergraduate, postgraduate and professional training courses on offer, we are also home to world-leading and internationally recognised research in Education, History, Music and Sports Related Studies.
  • Canterbury Christ Church University was founded in 1962 by the Church of England as a teacher training college.


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:14:00