Christian school

From Academic Kids

A Christian school is a school run on Christian principles or by a Christian organisation.

The nature of Christian Schools varies enormously from country to country according the religious and educational culture.

Historically in Europe many schools were founded as religious as well as educational establishment. Religious instruction was considered a normal part of education.

Contents

United States

In the United States religion is generally not taught by the state-funded educational system, under the principle of separation of church and state. Christian schools are therefore privately run, often in conjunction with a church or a denomination. Parents who want their children taught according to Christian principles can choose to send their children to such schools, but unless the school is subsidized by their church, or is part of a school choice or education voucher program funded by the government, they must pay tuition. Some American Christian schools are large and well-funded, while others are small and rely on volunteers from the community.

The largest association of Christian schools in North America is Christian Schools International (CSI) (http://www.csionline.org). The oldest incorporated member of CSI is Grand Haven Christian School, which was founded in 1880 in Grand Haven, Michigan. While there were certainly independent religious schools before 1880, Grand Haven Christian School is widely considered the oldest Christian school in the United States with some sort of official affiliation.

One emerging movement among Christian schools in the US is the return to the traditional subjects and form of education known as classical education. This growing movement is known as the Classical Christian School movement, represented by the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS) (http://www.accsedu.org).

Canada

According to the Canadian constitution Roman Catholics, in certain provinces, have the right to have their children educated in Catholic schools, and to have such education paid for by the state. Most areas of Canada therefore have two parallel school boards, one for Catholic education and one for 'public' (or secular) education. Many Christians (and those of other religions) send their children to Catholic schools, preferring an education from a different denomination or religion to a secular education.

Private Christian schools on the American model and run by Protestant denominations also exist throughout Canada.

United Kingdom

The Church of England was historically a provider of many schools throughout the country. Such schools (called 'Church of England schools') were partially absorbed into the state education system, with the church retaining an influence on the schools in return for its support in funding and staffing. Such schools are required to accept pupils regardless of religious background, though if they are oversubscribed they can, and often do, give preference to applicants of the relevant faith. The curriculum taught is virtually identical to that taught in state funded schools.

Because of the availability of church-run schools and the tolerance for religious activity in state schools, private Christian schools are a relative rarity.

Australia

The Christian school movement began in Australia through the efforts of Dutch migrants who had enjoyed Christian schools for many decades in their home country. Most belonged to the Reformed Churches of Australia (now Christian Reformed Churches of Australia, and sometimes incorrectly called the Dutch Reformed Church, which is a name only correctly used of South African Reformed churches). During the 1950s these migrants founded associations of parents who wanted to start Christian schools, and the first schools opened, at first without any government assistance, in the early 1960s. The first schools were affiliated with a national body known at that time as the National Union of Christian Parent-Controlled Schools, which later became Christian Parent Controlled Schools Ltd. (CPCS)

This first model of Australian Christian school was operated not by churches, but by associations of parents who individually belonged to churches but worked collectively for their common aim. These schools were established not because of innate dissatisfaction with government schools, but because these parents wanted schools which would actively integrate their Christian faith into the whole school curriculum. Because these schools were operated by parent bodies, people from churches other than the Reformed Churches were welcomed and able to join the work of these schools.

From the late 1970s, Christians from many other churches became increasingly concerned about standards and social change in government schools and started establishing Christian schools to provide an alternative education option. In this phase, many such schools were commenced not by parent associations but by churches themselves, although uniquely in Western Australia several parent groups from outside the Reformed Churches studied and adopted the parent-controlled model and have commenced schools which, while they have no Dutch or Reformed Church connections, have still affiliated themselves nationally with many schools which do.

In 2005 the two leading umbrella organizations are Christian Schools Australia see http://www.christianschools.edu.au/ and Christian Parent Controlled Schools Ltd. see http://www.cpcs.edu.au/ These umbrella bodies, together with a number of independent Christian schools, have national representation in the Australian Associations of Christian Schools, see http://www.aacs.net.au/

Africa

In many parts of Africa Christian missionary organisations have founded schools, often in places where no other schooling is available. Such schools generally provide a complete education in a Christian context.

Associations

See also: Parochial school, Catholic school

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