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Project Blog and Research Network

Want to contribute to the debate on faith schools? You can join the conversation via our project blog. Here you can read and comment on original articles by members of our project team and virtual research network.

If you would like to contribute an article of your own, please join our network by emailing FSPP at warwick dot ac dot uk

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The purpose of the research network is to encourage individuals and organisations with an interest in faith schooling to connect and engage in discussion about the issues. Network members will receive regular updates on the work of the project and are encouraged to contribute to the blog by authoring posts about their own research or area of expertise, or by commenting on relevant news stories. Members may also contribute by responding to one (or more) of the questions below:

  • Do faith schools threaten social cohesion?
  • Are faith schools well positioned to cultivate civic virtues (e.g. tolerance or respect)?
  • Are faith schools indoctrinatory?
  • Should faith schools be permitted to select their pupils on the grounds of faith?

Contributions should be roughly 500 words in length (although shorter posts will be considered). We welcome posts from individuals and organisations with a broad range of views and are keen to hear from contributors in a variety of roles. Contributions from members/ leaders of faith organisations as well as students (at all levels of education) are particularly welcome.

For further information or to submit your blog post, please email FSPP at warwick dot ac dot uk

Research Network Members

Roger Crisp

Roger is a Uehiro Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St Anne’s College, Oxford, and Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is also a Professorial Fellow of the Centre for Moral Philosophy and Applied Ethics at the Australian Catholic University. He has been involved with applied philosophy and practical ethics for well over thirty years. Roger has also worked in political philosophy and philosophy of religion, so issues of education and faith are among those he have thought a lot about. He is especially interested in the potential benefits and harms of a faith school education.

Andrew Davis

Andrew's background is in Philosophy of Religion, where he originally studied with Ronald Hepburn and Richard Swinburne.
His current position is Associate Professor Emeritus in the School of Education, Durham University.
His view of the appropriate role of Faith Schools stems from his defence of a 'modest' religious pluralism. He explains this in:

Defending religious pluralism for religious education

Religious Education: Educating for Diversity

Neli Demireva

Neli Demireva is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Sociology at Essex University. Her research interests include migration, inter-ethnic ties, social cohesion, ethnic penalties and multiculturalism. She is currently working on several projects. The project “Understanding the Ecology of Disadvantage: Betting Agents, Crime and the British Neighbourhood”, funded by a BA/Leverhulme Grant explores the importance of businesses in compounding neighbourhood disadvantage and the importance of institutions such as local community centres in alleviating deprivation. From September 2015, she started working on the project: “GEMM: Growth, Equal Opportunities, Migration and Markets” (as part of the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission, “EURO-2-2014: The European growth agenda Research and Innovation action 4: Migration, prosperity and growth"). More information on the project can be found on the website: www.gemm2020.eu This project addresses the challenges and barriers that European countries face in managing the mobility of persons to realize competitiveness and growth.

Wendy Dossett

Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies
University of Chester
Wendy is formerly Secretary of the Shap Working Party for Religions in Education (2002-2012). She has been a Senior Principal A level Examiner in Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism for the last two decades at the Welsh Public Examinations Board WJEC. She is the TRS-UK representative on the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, and is responsible for schools liaison for TRS-UK. Her primary research area is in spirituality and addiction recovery but she has also published in Religious Education and Buddhism. She runs an undergraduate module in Religious Education in which students have the opportunity to explore the history and legal position of Religious Education on the curriculum and to engage with controversial issues (including schools with a religious character), as well as to spend time observing in a Religious Education department of a secondary school.

Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher (BA, MPhil, PhD, MA in HE, PFHEA) is Head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Nottingham. Previous to this role he was Director of Teaching for the Faculty of Arts. He is part of Nottingham’s professional development team, peer observation college and HEA fellowship recognition scheme. His publications are in: metaethics, philosophy of education, philosophy in schools (P4C), academic outreach, technology and teaching, small group teaching, and developing employability in students. Most recently (2017) he co-authored a text book on ethics. Over the last fourteen years he has taught a large number of different philosophical topics to both UG and MA students, as well as teaching philosophy to local primary school children.

Leonardo Franchi

Dr Leonardo Franchi first taught in the University of Glasgow from 1986 until 1991 as a member of the Department of Adult and Continuing Education's team of tutors in Modern Languages (Italian). He subsequently spent 13 years teaching in schools while doing higher studies in Theology and acting as a tutor with the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. Dr Franchi re-joined the University on a full-time basis in 2005 (Department of Religious Education, Faculty of Education). In 2012 Dr Franchi was appointed as the inaugural Head of the St. Andrew's Foundation for Catholic Teacher Education, his term ending in 2016.
Dr Franchi is especially interested Religious Education as expressed in the Catholic educational tradition. Dr Franchi is co-writing (with Professor Richard Rymarz (Broken Bay Institute, Australia) a history of Catholic teacher preparation for inclusion in a major series by Emerald Publishers. This is due for publication in 2019. His other research interests include:

  • the philosophy and practice of contemporary Catholic education;
  • intercultural dialogue in Religious Education;
  • the role of the liberal arts in contemporary education;
  • the history of Christian education, especially models of formation in early Christianity;
  • initial teacher education in the contemporary university.
Rob Freathy

Professor Rob Freathy is based at the University of Exeter. He is Associate Dean (Education) for the College of Social Sciences and International Studies, and Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education. His research interests include religious education, the historiography of 20th century education and the application of historical methods in educational research. He is co-editor of History of Education Researcher and a member of the editorial boards for History of Education and Journal of Beliefs and Values. He is co-editor of a series of books published by Peter Lang on the theme of Religion, Education and Values (Vol. 12, 2017). He has also authored and edited numerous books, including Religious Education and Freedom of Religion and Belief (Oxford, 2012), History, Remembrance and Religious Education (Oxford, 2014) and Politics, Professionals and Practitioners (London, 2017). He has contributed articles to a wide range of journals focusing on the interface between religion and education, both from past and present perspectives. His most recent classroom-focused project has led to the creation of the RE-searchers approach to Religious Education in primary schools, underpinned by a critical, dialogic and inquiry-led pedagogical framework. For further information visit the his University of Exeter staff page.

Peter Hemming

Dr Peter Hemming is a lecturer in Social Sciences at Cardiff University, specialising in sociology of education, sociology of religion and childhood and youth studies. His research interests include faith-based schooling and the role of religion in education, children's and young people's (non-)religious lives and identities, and citizenship and wellbeing in schools and wider society (including a particular interest in mindfulness). Peter is the author of the 2015 book: Religion in the Primary School: Ethos, Diversity Citizenship, and a co- author of the 2014 book: Youth on Religion: The Development, Negotiation and Impact of Faith and Non-Faith Identity, both published by Routledge.

Peter has been involved in a number of research studies with a focus on faith schools and religion in education, including in both urban multi-faith and rural contexts. From these, he has published on a range of relevant issues, including the following:

· School ethos, values and post-secularism
· Inter-religious relations and social cohesion in schools
· Children’s rights and diversity of religion and belief in everyday school life
· Faith schools, rural educational markets and community engagement

Steve Higgins

Steve Higgins is Professor of Education at Durham University. Before working in higher education he taught in primary schools in the North East of England where his interest in children’s thinking and learning developed.
His research interests include the areas of effective use digital technologies for learning in schools, understanding how children's thinking and reasoning develops, and how teachers can be supported in developing the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms. He has a particular interest in the educational philosophy of Pragmatism and the implications for teaching and learning, particularly relating to the use of research evidence to develop practice in schools. He is one of the authors of the Sutton Trust/EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit and has an interest in developing understanding of effective use of research evidence for policy and practice. His teaching areas include primary mathematics, the use of new and emerging technologies in education and supporting effective professional development of teachers. This is particularly using approaches which focus on the development of children and young people's thinking, reasoning and understanding.

Ambrose Hogan

Ambrose is a teacher educator working at the Institute of Education, UCL, London. He has a background as a secondary teacher of English and Drama (drawing on an undergraduate degree in English and a master’s degree in History of Design); with ten years’ teaching experience, most of it in London comprehensive schools, but some of it in alternative education in Oxfordshire. For four years, Ambrose worked with Ismaili Muslim RE teachers, running a double-masters’ programme for their professional development during three of those years. He is a practicing Catholic and church musician, and a lay member of the Dominican order. His doctoral research is into the psychodynamic aspects of teaching and learning relationships, drawing heavily on Jungian and post-Jungian psychology (influenced by object-relations theory and Bion and Winnicot as well as the Jungian tradition); using autoethnography and narrative approaches in his research.

Ian Kidd

Ian James Kidd is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Nottingham. His research interests include a variety of topics in the philosophy of education - intellectual virtues and vices, the aims of education, criticisms of contemporary educational trends; and the philosophy of religion - the nature of a religious life, cross-cultural perspectives on religion, secularism and humanism. His website is https://ianjameskidd.weebly.com

Renee Luthra

Renee Luthra is Director of the Centre for Migration Studies and senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex. Her areas of expertise include international migration, social stratification, education, and quantitative methods. She is currently researching immigrant integration and ethnic inequality in school, work, and health. Together with co-authors Thomas Soehl (McGill) and Roger Waldinger (UCLA), Renee has recently submitted a manuscript on the integration trajectories of the children of immigrants in the United States. Commissioned by the Russell Sage Foundation, this book, "Divergent Fates: Origins, Destinations, and the Sociology of the Second Generation" examines political, socio-economic, and attitudinal outcomes among the children of immigrants living in New York and Los Angeles.
Renee is also co-Investigator on the ESRC funded research initiative "The prevalence and persistence of ethnic and racial harassment and its impact on health: A longitudinal analysis." Together with a team of scientists at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (PI: Alita Nandi), she examines the prevalence and persistence of ethnic and racial harassment, where such harassment is most likely to occur, and the impact of ethnic and racial harassment on mental health and health behaviours. A new collaboration with Thomas Hippler (Strathclyde), funded by the Society for Research in Higher Education, will use qualitative interviews to examine the reactions of administrators, academics, and non-academic staff in UK higher education to the Referendum vote. Renee is a member of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC), which provides support for her research across these areas.

Stephen Parker

Stephen Parker is Professor of History of Education, Religion and Civil Society at the University of Worcester, and an Associate Fellow in the Centre for Education Studies at the University of Warwick. His research interests include the history of, and philosophical reasoning about, faith/denominational schooling in England since the eighteenth century; the relationship and dynamics between the state, civil institutions and the education system; and the history, typology, and understandings of religious education in maintained (faith, non-faith and supplementary) schools. Stephen is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Beliefs and Values: studies in religion and education, and of a new journal in Brill’s Research Perspectives series on religion and education. He is senior editor for volumes in the Peter Lang series on Religion, Education and Values. Stephen has published widely in the field of religion, education and civil society, including the books: Religious Education and Freedom of Religion and Belief (Oxford, 2012); History, Remembrance and Religious Education (Oxford, 2014) and the Bloomsbury Reader in Childhood and Religion (London, 2017). He is soon to publish a book based upon Leverhulme Trust-funded project on religious education in British broadcasting with Oxford University Press. He has published articles in Paedagogica Historica, British Journal of Religious Education and History of Education. Stephen has taught widely across education sectors, and was for many years an RE adviser to Church schools. He is also current Vice-President of the History of Education Society, UK.

Jo Pearce

Dr Jo Pearce is a teacher educator at UCL Institute of Education. She has ten years’ experience teaching RE in maintained secondary schools in and around London. Jo directs the Masters in Education and teaches on a range of programmes, including the Masters in Religious Education and PGCE Secondary RE. Her main research interests are in the areas of religious education, spiritual education, Steiner Education, and education as a field of study.

Paul Pettinger MA (Exon)

Paul is the member of staff of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education. Launched in 2008, Accord is a broad-based campaign coalition that seeks to ensure state funded schools are open and suitable for all children, regardless of their or their family’s religious or non-religious beliefs. It seeks to give voice to the majority who do not want schools - including faith schools - to religiously discriminate or to provide a narrow curriculum. It seeks for schools to maximize their potential to have a positive (rather than negative) effect on integration and trust between people from different backgrounds, thereby creating conditions for improved cohesion and a greater acceptance of diversity and difference in society. Accord’s members and supporters represent a wide variety of professional interests, political allegiances and religious or non-religious views.

Paul has worked for Accord since 2010. He is responsible for end to end campaign management, including authoring the group’s consultation responses, press statements and periodically Accord 's own research (most recently in November 2017 the report ‘Mixed Signals: The discrepancy between what the Church preaches and what it practises about religious selection at its state-funded schools‘). He maintains Accord’s databank of research and other findings regarding the role of religion and belief in school age education. His background is in campaigns. Once the youngest person elected to Exeter City Council and formerly an elected Director of the Electoral Reform Society, he currently serves on the Board of the cross-party think tank Compass.

Najwan Saada

Najwan Saada is a lecturer of multicultural, citizenship, and religious (Islamic) education at Al-Qasemi Academic College of Education and Beit Berl College of Education, Israel. His research focuses on citizenship and religious (Islamic) education and the intersection of Islam, democracy and liberal education in western and Muslim-majority societies. Najwan’s research has been published in Theory and Research in Social Education, International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Journal of Religious Education, Religious Education, and Education Review. Also, Najwan's interest includes critical and liberal Islamic education, values education, teachers' and students' religious identities, the social and philosophical foundations of education, and curriculum studies. Najwan’s account on Academia: https://independent.academia.edu/NajwanSaada. And he also has an account on Research Gate.

He can be reached on saada.najwan@gmail.com

Andres Sandoval- Hernandez

Andres is currently a Lecturer in Educational Research at the University of Bath. Prior to that, he worked as Head of the Research and Analysis Unit at the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) in Germany, and held different academic appointments at the Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA) and the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (both in Mexico).

He is interested in developing work around comparative analyses of educational systems using large-scale assessment data with a focus on educational inequalities. He also has a strong interest in civic and citizenship education and the use of mixed-methods approaches to educational research.

Andres has a BA in Public Accounting by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), a Master’s in Educational Research by the UIA, and a PhD in Education by the University of Bath.

Jasjit Singh

Dr Jasjit Singh is a Research Fellow in Religious and Cultural Transmission based at the University of Leeds and a recognised expert on Sikhs in Britain. His research examines religious identity and processes of religious and cultural transmission among British South Asians with a focus on British Sikhs. His research interests include Religion and Youth, Religion and Media, Religious Identity, Sikh Studies and Religion in Diaspora.

Jasjit has an emerging track record in publications including peer-reviewed journals and edited collections. He regularly presents his work in both academic and non-academic contexts including at national and international conferences, public lectures and on national and Sikh media. Jasjit is a visiting fellow at the Faiths & Civil Society Unit at Goldsmiths University of London and is a member of a number of academic networks including 'Sikhs in Europe', 'Religious Literacy Leadership in Higher Education' and the 'Religion and Diversity Project' in Canada. He has recently completed a CREST funded research project on ‘The idea, context, framing and realities of Sikh radicalisation in Britain’.

Adam Swift

Adam is a Professor of Political Theory at the University of Warwick, moving to University College London in September 2018.

Adam was Founding Director of Oxford’s Centre for the Study of Social Justice and is a member of Warwick's Centre for Ethics, Law and Public Affairs. In addition to writing an accessible introduction to political philosophy, Political Philosophy: A Beginners’ Guide for Students and Politicians (Polity 3rd edition 2013), he has worked on the communitarian critique of liberalism, the relation between public opinion and political philosophy, the normative aspects of class analysis and social mobility, the morality of school choice, the methodological debate around ideal and non-ideal theory, the ethics of family relationships, and the relation between justice, legitimacy and democracy.
His two most recent books are Educational Goods: Values, Evidence, and Decision-Making (with Harry Brighouse, Helen F. Ladd and Susanna Loeb; Chicago University Press 2018) and Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships (with Harry Brighouse; Princeton University Press 2014).
He is currently co-PI on a project called Faith Schools: Principles and Policies (with Matthew Clayton, Andrew Mason and Ruth Wareham) funded by the Spencer Foundation.

Lasse Thomassen

Lasse Thomassen is Reader in political theory in the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London. Before that, he worked at the University of Limerick and the University of Essex. He received his BA from the University of Copenhagen, and his MA and his PhD from the University of Essex. His research focuses on the politics of identity, including multiculturalism, recognition, religion and tolerance. His most recent book is British Multiculturalism and the Politics of Representation (Edinburgh University Press, 2017).

John Tillson

John Tillson is a philosopher of education based at Liverpool Hope University writing on moral, political and religious education. He is under contract with Bloomsbury to produce a monograph based on his PhD research, entitled Children, Religion and the Ethics of Influence (forthcoming in 2018). His journal articles to date have addressed a cluster of closely connected normative questions about curriculum content and aims, and about due and undue influence in teaching, especially over pupils’ religious, political and ethical beliefs and attitudes. He has written a survey chapter on the Philosophy of Religious Education for the Springer International Handbook of Philosophy of Education (forthcoming in 2018), and has additionally been commissioned to produce articles on ‘Wrongful Influence’ for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, and on ‘Indoctrination and Influence in Education’ and ‘Moral Education’ for the Springer Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. Together with David Aldridge, he is co-editing special editions of Educational Theory and Educational Philosophy and Theory on cheating education through technological and neurological enhancements. The Educational Theory symposium is entitled: Cheating Education: the coherence and desirability of technological human enhancement in educational contexts.

Stephen Wigmore

Stephen Wigmore’s main research area is in Phenomenology & Ethics, particularly the Ethics of the German philosopher Max Scheler. He has also written about Emmanuel Levinas, another major phenomenological ethicist, as well as Martin Buber and R.G.Collingwood. Stephen’s original BSc was in Mathematics, before moving on to an MA in Continental Philosophy and his PhD on Max Scheler's Ethics. Stephen is interested in a pluralistic, objective ethical approach to society, social groups and the individual based on ethical values. This has led him to be interested in issues around Faith and Church schools and diversity in education.

Anne-Laure Zwilling, PhD, Hab

Currently research fellow at the research center DRES-Droit, Religion, Entreprise, Société (UMR 7354, joint unit of the CNRS and the University of Strasbourg).
Codirector of the team "Religion in the light of pluralism". Convenor of several research projects « Dynamiques religieuses et groupes minoritaires: évolutions récentes du paysage français »; « Construction et déconstruction du communautarisme », « Offre de livres religieux islamiques en français ».
Manager of the international research network and information project Eurel - legal and sociological information concerning religion in Europe; creator and manager of the Sociorel blog of information on sociology of religion.

Main fields of interest: religious minorities; sociology of religion; anthropology of religion; religious change; sacred texts.