Essentially Christian in character? Ethos in integrated schools

  • Michael Wardlow

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

Integrated schools are still relatively new within the educational landscape of Northern Ireland, with the oldest school, Lagan College, recently celebrating its 30th anniversary. In the main governing document of the movement, the 1989 Statement of Principles, the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education claimed that integrated education was ‘essentially Christian in character", and offered a Christian rather than a secular approach to education.

Despite the fact that significant research exists exploring the nature of integrated education, there is scant research focusing on what might be termed an ‘integrated ethos' and within that context, there is no research exploring the nature of the Christian ethos within integrated schools.

In order to explore this under-researched area, the author carried out two case studies, in two integrated primary schools, which considered how teachers, ancillary staff and board members understood the nature of an integrated ethos, with a particular focus on the Christian element of that ethos.

Overall, the research findings showed that an integrated ethos was school specific and drawn from a set of core values, including those held in common by the main world faiths. It contained a number of core elements and was inclusive and multi-denominational. Although theoretically stewarded by the board, its development was delegated to the principal, who was the key former and driver of that ethos. It was intentional and impacted on all elements of school life. It was capable of being changed and in turn could change and impact on the school culture.
There was no significant difference in how the two schools types understood and practiced their individual ethos.

The research suggested a number of areas for further exploration, including the role of boards in stewarding ethos and whether integrated schools should remain ‘essentially Christian in character", in an increasingly multi-cultural society.The research suggested a number of areas for further exploration, including the role of boards in stewarding ethos and whether integrated schools should remain ‘essentially Christian in character", in an increasingly multi-cultural society.
Date of AwardJul 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorJoanne Hughes (Supervisor) & Caitlin Donnelly (Supervisor)

Cite this

Essentially Christian in character? Ethos in integrated schools
Wardlow, M. (Author). Jul 2013

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy