Publications

Recent Research Publications

We aim to collate both RE-specific and other relevant research publications on this site.  All articles and book chapters on this page appear in peer-reviewed publications.

2014 publications

Religion and Education in Wales

ap Sion, T. and Francis, L.J. (2014). Religion and Education in Wales. In M. Rothgangel, R. Jackson, and M. Jaggle (Eds). Religious Education at Schools in Europe, Part 2: Western Europe, pp. 261-287, Vienna: Vienna University Press.

“Religion and Education in Wales” is the most recent authoritative study on religious education in Wales. The series in which the chapter appears, Religious Education at Schools in Europe, sets out and explores religious education within countries across Europe by employing a common framework that enables a comparative perspective to be taken. “Religion and Education in Wales” is divided into the following sections:
1. Socio-religious background (religious diversity, ethnic diversity, Welsh language and Welsh identity)
2. Legal frameworks of RE and the relationship between religious communities and the state (origins of church schools, development of secular schools, Education Act 1944, consequences of devolution, Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education)
3. Developments in the country’s education policies (14-19 learning, foundation phase learning, 8-14 learning, literacy and numeracy)
4. Role of religiously sponsored schools, including any changes and developments, legal relationships (trends in church school provision, the Church in Wales, the Roman Catholic Church)
5. Conceptions and tasks of RE
6. Practice/reality of RE in different schools
7. Observations on alternative subjects/learning areas like ethics, philosophy etc.
8. Dealing with religious diversity
9. Religion in schools outside of RE
10. Training of teachers of RE: institutes, structures, priorities, issues
11. Empirical research concerning RE (religious education in the primary school, listening to 13- to 15-year-old students, Church in Wales schools, Roman Catholic schools, Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education)
12. Desiderata and challenges for RE in a European context
13. Further information 


Religious Education, interfaith dialogue and community cohesion in Wales

ap Sin, T. (2014). Religious education, interfaith dialogue and community cohesion in Wales: An empirical investigation of the contribution made by the Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education. Contemporary Wales, 27, pp. 148-166.

The provision within each local authority of a Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACREs) is a statutory requirement under the Education Reform Act 1988 designed to monitor the implementation of the locally determined syllabus of religious education. As part of their statutory constitution SACREs bring together representation of Christian denominations and religious groups active within the local authority. Drawing on a recent survey conducted throughout the twenty-two local authorities in Wales, this paper demonstrates the significant contribution made by SACREs to interfaith dialogue and community cohesion in Wales relevant to the Welsh Assembly Government’s community cohesion strategy, ‘Getting on Together: A Community Cohesion Strategy for Wales’ (2009). It is argued that any erosion of the capacity of SACREs in Wales to connect with local representatives of diverse religious traditions may carry unintended consequences of damaging the community cohesion strategy.


Religious diversity among young people in Wales

Francis, L.J., ap Sion, T. and Penny, G. (2014). Is belief in God a matter of public concern in contemporary Wales? An empirical enquiry concerning religious diversity among 13- to 15-year-old males. Contemporary Wales, 27, pp. 40-57.

This study traces the changing face of religious diversity in Wales from the conceptualization of diversity in denominational attendance, in the exercise undertaken alongside the 1851 census, to the conceptualization of diversity in self-assigned religious affiliation included in the 2001 census. An alternative conceptualisation of religious diversity is proposed in terms of belief rather than in terms of attendance or affiliation. Using quantitative data gathered between 2011 and 2012 this alternative conceptualization is tested among a survey of 1,124 male students (13 to 15 years of age) attending state-maintained schools in Wales. The data demonstrate significant differences between the worldviews of young theists and the worldviews of young atheists. The young theists espouse a more positive view of pluralism in contemporary Wales, including both cultural diversity and religious diversity. The conclusion is drawn that religious belief promotes, rather than detracts from, social cohesion. In this sense, religious belief may be construed as a matter of public concern in contemporary Wales.

Francis, L.J. & Village, A. (2014). Church schools preparing adolescents for living in a religiously diverse society: An empirical enquiry in England and Wales. Religious Education, 109 (3), pp. 264-282.

The Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity project was established to compare the attitudes of students (13- to 15-years of age) educated within the state-maintained sector in church schools (Catholic, Anglican, joint Anglican and Catholic) and in schools without a religious foundation. Data provided by 5,402 students recruited from England, Wales, and London who self-identified as either ‘no religion’ or as Christian demonstrated that, after controlling for individual differences in personality and religiosity, students attending church schools hold neither a more positive nor a less positive attitude toward religious diversity, compared with students attending schools without a religious foundation.

Francis, L.J., Penny, G. & ap Sion, T. (in press). Schools with a religious character and community cohesion in Wales. In E. Arweck (Ed.) Attitudes to Religious diversity: Young people’s perspectives. Farnham: Ashgate.

This chapter tests the thesis proposed by the report Right to divide? that schools with a religious character in Wales fail to prepare students for life in a religiously and ethnically diverse society and consequently fail to promote community cohesion. This thesis is examined against data provided by 1,087 students attending schools with as religious character alongside 1,241 students attending schools without a religious foundation. The analysis examines three broad topics: the religious worldview of students, students’ attitudes toward religion and religious diversity, and student perceptions of the influences shaping their attitudes toward religion and religious diversity The key finding is that comparison made between students in the two types of school offers no support for the thesis that schools with a religious character in Wales prepare students less adequately for life in a religiously and ethnically diverse society in comparison with schools without a religious foundation.

Francis, L.J., ap Sion, T., McKenna U., & Penny, G. (under review). Does Religious Education as an examination subject work to promote community cohesion? An empirical enquiry among 14- 15-year-old adolescents in England and Wales.

Abstract to follow when the article is published.


If you have any relevant recent peer-reviewed publications for this page we would like to hear from you.  If you have any questions about any of this material, please contact us.