Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Religious Reading in a Secular Society: Learning for Life in a Liberal Democracy?

January 2008 - December 2008


Ethnography, observation and semi-structured interviews were conducted with students and teachers alongside content analysis and a survey of over 1000 participants at five schools of a Christian ethos.


The findings may be summarized as follows:

  1. The schools studied possessed the religious resources to transform expectations and raise attainment while providing character education. The conviction that human beings are, in some sense, ‘created in God’s image’ emerged as a theme of central importance.
  2. Children and young people in these schools with a Christian ethos engaged in a good deal of critical reading of ‘religious’ truth claims. All five schools shared a conviction that it was not enough to be effective and efficient or to focus only on achieving examination results and academic success. For these schools, education is about helping students consider the ‘bigger picture’.
  3. The focus upon the Bible in all the schools studied provided a common point of reference for the exploration of a range of moral and ethical issues as well as cultural and literary study. Given the success of the schools in this study, their potential to influence practice in other schools should be recognised.

Download the final report

Project Publications

Pike, M. (2009) The Emmanuel Schools Foundation: sponsoring and transforming education at England’s most improved academy, Management in Education, vol. 23, no 3, pp 139-143: http://mie.sagepub.com/content/23/3/139.full.pdf+html?rss=1

© Copyright Leeds 2018