Defining and Measuring the Contribution of Anglican Secondary Schools to Students’ Religious, Personal and Social Values

In: Journal of Empirical Theology
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  • 1 University of Warwick, Warwick Religions & Education Research Unit, Institute of Education, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
  • | 2 University of Warwick, UK
  • | 3 Glyndŵr University, Wales, UK
  • | 4 University of York St John, York, UK
  • | 5 University of Warwick, UK

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The involvement of the Christian Churches within a state-maintained system of schools, as in the case of England and Wales, raises interesting and important questions regarding the concept of religion employed in this context and regarding defining and measuring the influence exerted by schools with a religious character on the students who attend such schools. Since the foundation of the National Society in 1811, Anglican schools have provided a significant contribution to the state-maintained sector of education in England and Wales and by the end of the twentieth century were providing about 25% of primary school places and nearly 5% of secondary school places. From the early 1970s, Francis and his colleagues have offered a series of studies profiling the attitudes and values of students attending Anglican schools as a way of defining and measuring the influence exerted by schools with a religious character. The present study extends previous research in three ways. It offers a comparative study by examining the responses of 1,097 year-nine and year-ten students from 4 Anglican schools with 20,348 students from 93 schools without a religious foundation. It examines a range of religious, social and personal values. It employs multilevel linear models to identify the contribution made by Anglican schools after taking into account differences within the students themselves. Of the 11 dependent variables tested, only one, self-esteem, showed any significant difference between Anglican schools and schools without a religious foundation. Students attending Anglican schools recorded a significantly lower level of self-esteem. On the other hand, there were no significant school effects identified in terms of rejection of drug use, endorsing illegal behaviours, racism, attitude toward school, conservative Christian belief or views on sexual morality (abortion, contraception, divorce, homosexuality, and sex outside marriage).

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