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Christian Faith in English Church Schools

Research Conversations with Classroom Teachers

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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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Chapter 6: Issues for Teacher Education

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CHAPTER 6

Issues for Teacher Education

So far we have focussed on examining our teachers’ experience of What If Learning as an approach to creating distinctively Christian learning experiences for their students in church secondary schools. Our findings pose important questions for teacher education. In particular we suggest that specific professional support is required if teachers are successfully to bring together their perceptions of Christianity and their understanding of their professional role.

It is a peculiarity of initial teacher education (ITE) in England that while a third of all state-maintained schools are church schools, student teachers receive little formal education about what church schools expect of teachers. As a lecturer in education, student teachers have sometimes asked me what they should do if they are allocated a teaching practice in a church school. Do they have to be religious? Will they have to behave in a certain way? Are there some things they shouldn’t say?

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