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Christian Faith in English Church Schools

Research Conversations with Classroom Teachers


Trevor Cooling, Beth Green, Andrew Morris and Lynn Revell

Church schools are booming, becoming increasingly popular with parents across the world. However, research shows that teachers face considerable challenges as they try to offer a distinctively Christian education within a church school context. This book is the account of a qualitative research project investigating the joys and difficulties experienced in English church school classrooms. The research team spent a year working alongside fourteen teachers from Catholic and Church of England secondary schools, introducing them to What If Learning, a pedagogical initiative designed by an international team of educationalists to support teachers in developing Christian approaches to teaching and learning. The highs and lows of the teachers’ experience are documented in this book and the lessons that emerge are explored in detail. The findings of the project are highly significant for all those involved with church school education and point towards valuable new ways of thinking about Christian faith and learning.
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This book is a record of research conducted by the National Institute for Christian Education Research at Canterbury Christ Church University and the National Centre for Christian Education at Liverpool Hope University. It is the product of collaboration between many different people.

First and foremost, we thank the heads, link and classroom teachers and their schools who put up with our presence for a whole academic year. They were a joy to work with and were unfailingly cooperative and helpful despite the extra demands that we were placing on them. Without them, this research would have been nothing. We also thank the university lecturers who allowed us to interview them about church school education. The insights they gave us provided a most helpful complement to what we learnt from the teachers.

We also thank the many critical friends who have been part of the project at different stages. Ray Godfrey’s help was invaluable in the design of the methodology as was Patricia Driscoll’s when we were working on our ethics application and John Sullivan’s in the design of the initial interviews. Liz Melville performed a labour of love in overseeing the transcribing of interviews and focus groups, doing a lot of the work herself. She also looked after all our practical and administrative needs with great cheerfulness and permanent positivity. Mike Simmonds and Lynne Graham-Matheson both read drafts of the final manuscript and provided valuable suggestions for improvement. Mike Simmonds and Caroline Thomas participated...

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