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An Ethnographic Study of the Ways in Which Faith is Manifested in Two Primary Schools

Awad, S (2015) An Ethnographic Study of the Ways in Which Faith is Manifested in Two Primary Schools. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

Fostering religious commitment in schools and considering children’s cultural diversity arguably enhances pupils’ tolerance and integration, which may have the potential to reduce racism and discrimination. Faith schools are religiously and culturally diverse institutions and typically appreciated for their core values, good behaviour and academic standards. However, their impact on school culture and ethos is under explored. Although, the role of faith has gained attention both in policy and practice, relatively little is known about its impact in the context of primary education. As such, this research explores the complex influence of faith on school culture and ethos. In addition, critical analysis is undertaken to investigate the impact of faith on pupils’ behaviour and understanding in school. The main research aims are to: explore the multiple ways in which faith is manifested in two schools, determine the influence of faith on school culture and ethos, and establish the impact of faith on pupils’ behaviours and understanding in school.

This research takes an ethnographic approach to explore how faith is manifested in two primary schools in the North West of England. The ethnography enabled a deeper immersion in to the school culture as data were generated through observations, interviews, focus groups and documentary analysis in two schools: A denomination school, Church of England, and a community school with an Islamic ethos. The research was conducted in the North West of England which has many diverse faith-based schools. Critical Race and Feminist Theories were used as lenses of analysis to examine faith in school. Critical Race Theory is a framework employed to examine the role of race and power in education.

This research provides rich ethnographic description and analysis of faith as understood, practiced and experienced in the two schools. The findings reveal two major themes, first, a mismatch between school policy/values and its practice. Second, a lack of integration of staff and children into the school. Despite schools’ efforts to embrace diversity and encourage integration, schools policies were found to be empty rhetoric with regards to fostering religious commitment and cultural diversity. Exploring the issue of recognising cultural diversity within schools, findings indicated that both schools did not acknowledge or teach other cultural traditions, therefore, impacting on issues of integration. Poor behaviour, bullying and racism amongst children were major issues at both schools. Data analysis suggests the source of misbehaviour was due to the lack of emphasis placed on teaching about different religions, insufficient knowledge of cultural traditions and lack of visits to places of worship. This research concludes that there is a need for schools to develop awareness of religions and cultural diversity; thereby, encouraging integration, community cohesion and respect for similarities and differences.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Primary school, education, ethnographic study, ethnography, faith, culture, race, religion, ethos, multicultural, critical race theory, feminist theory, CRT.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: School of Education
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2016 08:56
Last Modified: 25 May 2017 08:07
Supervisors: Forrester, Gill
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4577

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