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05 March 2013

'Faith helps schools to become moral communities'

'Faith helps schools to become moral communities'

In the week it has been reported that the deputy prime minister, an atheist, is sending his son to a Catholic school, the Alliance reveals the importance of a Christian ethos in evangelicals' decision-making over where to send their own children.

The Alliance's Do we value education? report found that 64 per cent of evangelicals wanted their children at a school with a strong Christian ethos.

The report – the eighth in the 21st Century Evangelicals series – also found that 58 per cent wanted a school where Christian beliefs and values were taught. Despite this, just 20 per cent of evangelical parents chose a church school, or independent Christian school, for them.

The research is a reminder of the importance of faith literacy among teachers within schools.

The Bible Society has warned that religious education teachers need a better understanding of the Bible if they are to do their jobs effectively.

In their report to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education, the Bible Society said that teachers were insufficiently equipped.

The Bible Society's Dr Ann Holt OBE, a former government education adviser and teacher, said: "RE remains the place where pupils gain significant biblical knowledge, yet this biblical knowledge doesn't always develop into its fullest potential.

"The most pressing needs of teachers of RE in both the primary and secondary sectors is for further training in biblical literacy."

Earlier this week, it was reported that Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam will be sending their son Antonio, 11, to the London Oratory state Catholic school from September.

The Alliance research also found that Christian parents rate GCSE league tables and Ofsted reports as less important factors than an education that developed moral character and a school close to home.

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "Evangelical Christians have a long history of involvement in education. It's part of our passionate investment into the wellbeing of society as a whole as well as into the lives of the poor and least able.

"This report reveals an ongoing concern and desire to influence the way education is delivered in 21st century Britain. There is much that needs to change in our educational system, but it is essential we steer away from being critical to concentrating on providing a clear vision for continued Christian engagement."

Clive Ireson, director of strategy at the Association of Christian Teachers, said: "We welcome this wide-ranging research report by the Evangelical Alliance. We are encouraged that 45 per cent of churches represented in the survey regularly pray for their local schools. Evangelical Christians have strong views about education but this doesn't always translate into active involvement in supporting teachers, support staff and schools.

"Let this report be a catalyst to change so that the many opportunities to make positive change in our education system are taken up by evangelical Christians and churches."

The report is available online at: www.eauk.org/snapshot where hard copies can also be ordered.