18 December 2014
Paul Barber, Director of the Catholic Education Service, and Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer of the Church of England, have welcomed a research report published by the University's National Institute for Christian Education Research.
They agreed with the report’s findings that teachers in Church schools face significant challenges in implementing their respective Church’s vision that Christian ethos should permeate teaching and learning in their schools.
The findings of the report, The Influence of Christian Ethos on Teaching and Learning in Church Secondary School, are derived from a year’s research investigating how teachers of different subjects in three church secondary schools in England respond to the challenge of creating a Christian ethos in their classrooms.
It discovered that the fundamental challenge was that they lacked a clear understanding of how Christian theology informed pedagogy and that this hindered them in embedding Christian values throughout the curriculum. One teacher encapsulated the problem by describing the experience of teaching from within a Christian ethos as ‘weird’.
In his address, Nigel Genders said: “We welcome the report, and its findings, and are grateful for the initiative of Canterbury Christ Church and Liverpool Hope universities in conducting this research as it comes at a very crucial time in the Church of England’s involvement in leading the way in education.”
“Within the Church of England we have spent a long time talking about what we do in education, our distinctiveness and inclusiveness. But sometimes there is a danger of losing sight of the ‘why’. Why is it that we are involved in education at all? We need to have a bigger vision for education if we are to enable our teachers and leaders to really understand what they’re doing in terms of the education they are providing. We need to present a more a theological vision for education.”
“Education is more than conditioning people to become efficient units of economic production, which seems to be the prevailing narrative around education at the moment. Our vision for education is that it is a route for liberation and justice and to human flourishing. We need to be clear on what that vision is and find a way to ensure what we are seeking to offer through our Church education system is really able to deliver that vision.”
Paul Barber said: “The Catholic Church has long recognised the importance of staff within its schools, particularly the teachers in creating and sustaining a Christian ethos. That is why this report is so important in outlining some of the serious challenges that we face today and why we welcome its publication.”
“The findings presented in the report are a very serious and accurate list of challenges that we are familiar with. Integration and authenticity of message is biggest task we face; bringing together two separate factors for school leaders and teachers - their Christian faith and professional work. How we put them together and ensure that they are able to understand how they belong together and to articulate this to others is one of the main challenges that our dioceses face.”
Professor Trevor Cooling, Principal Investigator for the report, said: “The findings from the report have highlighted the key challenges facing church school leaders today. There is a distinct lack of opportunity for teachers to develop their own understanding of Christian ethos in learning and teaching, with them finding it easier to ‘tell’ students about Christian values rather than designing lessons that will embed them.”
“There is an urgent need for development and dissemination of a Christian theological understanding of pedagogy which overcomes the sense of ‘weirdness’ or of ‘not being Christian enough’, feelings identified by the teachers in the project when trying to integrate Christian ethos with learning across the curriculum subjects. That’s why the Report calls for the creation of intellectual and spiritual spaces where teachers can develop their understanding of the purpose of Church schools.”
Responding to this recommendation, Nigel Genders outlined his vision for a Church of England Institute for Teaching and Educational Leadership with the intention of harnessing the current capacity of its schools and universities with the aim of generating exceptionally talented teachers, leaders and governors.
For more information on NICER, or for a copy of the report, visit their webpages via the Faculty of Education: http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/education.
Notes to Editor
- The Influence of Christian Ethos on Teaching and Learning in Church Secondary Schools written by Professor Trevor Colling (Canterbury Christ Church University), Dr Elizabeth Green (Liverpool Hope University) and Dr Lynn Revell (Canterbury Christ Church University). Sponsored by The Jerusalem Trust, Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, Hinchley Charitable Trust and Hockerill Educational Foundation.
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 across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.
- 93% of our most recent UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
- We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2013 UCAS).
- We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.
*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey