Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Measuring the Contribution of Roman Catholic Secondary Schools during the 1990s to Students' Religious, Personal and Social Values in England and Wales/Mesurer la Part Des Ecoles Catholiques Romaines Dans Les Valeurs Religieuses, Personnelles et Sociales Des eleves/Medicion De la Contribucion De Las Escuelas Catolicas Romanas a Los Valores Religiosos, Personales Y Sociales

Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Measuring the Contribution of Roman Catholic Secondary Schools during the 1990s to Students' Religious, Personal and Social Values in England and Wales/Mesurer la Part Des Ecoles Catholiques Romaines Dans Les Valeurs Religieuses, Personnelles et Sociales Des eleves/Medicion De la Contribucion De Las Escuelas Catolicas Romanas a Los Valores Religiosos, Personales Y Sociales

Article excerpt

May 2016

The current state-maintained system of schools in England and Wales had its origin in a set of voluntary societies associated with the Christian Churches. It is this historical legacy that has shaped the current provision for Catholic schools within the state-maintained sector (Chadwick, 1997; Cruickshank, 1963; Murphy, 1971). The process began with an initiative of the Free Churches forming the Royal Lancasterian Society in 1808 that was re-formed as the British and Foreign School Society in 1814. The Church of England responded to this initiative by forming the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in 1811 (Burgess, 1958). These two voluntary societies raised funds for building schools. In 1833 the Government began to offer financial support to complement voluntary donations made to these societies. The Catholic Poor School Committee was created in 1847 and became eligible to receive Government support alongside the other voluntary societies.

It was not until the Education Act of 1870 that the Government created a public mechanism for building schools, known as School Boards, and this mechanism was not designed to supplement church schools, but to fill the gaps left by voluntary provision (Rich, 1970). The Education Act of 1902 consolidated the dual provision of schools built and owned by voluntary bodies and schools built and owned by the School Boards. The landmark consolidation of this dual provision was engineered by the Education Act of 1944, which applied equally to England and Wales. This Education Act recognised the need to refinance the nation's education system for post-war reconstruction and the need to engage the Churches (the owners of many schools) in this process.

The genius of the Education Act of 1944 (Dent, 1947) resided in three provisions. First, statutory provision was made for religious instruction and daily acts of collective worship in all state-maintained schools, and the Churches were given a statutory role in writing the syllabus for religious instruction. For the Free Churches and for part of the Anglican Church, this statutory provision for religious instruction and for collective worship obviated the need for a separate provision of church schools. Second, church schools were given the option of accepting voluntary controlled status, whereby the Church retained ownership of the building, the right to appoint a minority of governors and the right to provide denominational worship, but were absolved from all ongoing financial liability. Third, church schools were also given the option of maintaining voluntary aided status, whereby the Church retained ownership of the building, the right to appoint a majority of governors, the right to appoint staff, and the right to provide both denominational worship and denominational religious instruction. Voluntary aided status also involved ongoing financial responsibility for a significant part of the cost for maintaining existing buildings and creating new buildings (Dent, 1947).

The Free Churches, the Anglican Church (Church of England and Church in Wales), and the Catholic Church responded to the strategic provisions of the Education Act 1944 in distinctive ways. The Free Churches saw little further future in church schools and largely withdrew from the ongoing support for and maintenance of church schools. The Anglican Church agreed on no uniform policy and individual dioceses responded in different ways, resulting in a mixture of voluntary controlled schools and voluntary aided schools. The Catholic Church had a clear policy on preferring voluntary aided status as the way to secure the Church's distinctive voice in education and to ensure the distinctive character of Catholic schools. Hornsby-Smith (1978) documents the determination and commitment of the Catholic Church during the post-war years not only to sustain existing schools but also to establish new schools. …

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