A survey conducted by Christian Schools Australia (CSA), a peak body for Christian schooling in Australia, has confirmed that most parents rate Christian values and beliefs above academic performance or school facilities, indicating how important this issue is to parents who send their children to faith based schools.
CSA has sent the survey results to all federal MPs and asked them to clarify their stance on religious education.
The move comes ahead of an expected battle over religious education in Australia, following the release of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) final report later this year on its inquiry into anti-discrimination laws and religious schooling.
MPs were asked the following question:
“Will you support parents’ right to choose a school capable of selecting its staff and teaching doctrines in line with its religious beliefs?”
They were also asked whether religious schools should be able to “enforce standards of conduct and behaviour within the school community consistent with the doctrines, tenets and beliefs of the religion”.
The survey was conducted with 8500 parents from 101 schools.
The survey found that over half of parents choose Christian schooling based on “values that align with my own”. Traditional Christian teachings held significant importance for 75 per cent of parents, while financial success as an outcome of their child’s schooling was a priority for only three per cent:
Nearly half of parents wanted the school to impart ‘strong character and Christian values’, while 24 per cent wanted ‘increased opportunities in life’ and 23 per cent hoped for ‘strong friendships’.
CSA intends to share answers provided by the federal parliamentarians with parent communities across Australia, in order to inform parents about their choice of school for their children.
This move in turn is expected to prompt discussions about the legal right of religious schools, which educate approximately one-third of Australian children, to operate in accordance with their beliefs and values, a right which the ALRC is proposing to remove.
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