Parochial school

Parochial school

A parochial school is a school that provides religious education in addition to conventional education. In a narrower sense, a parochial school is a Christian grammar school or high school which is part of, and run by, a parish.[1]


United Kingdom

In British education, parish schools from the established church of the relevant constituent country formed the basis of the state-funded education system, and many schools retain a church connection while essentially providing secular education in accordance with standards set by the government of the country concerned. These are often primary schools, and may be designated as name C.E.[2] School or name C.E. (Aided) School, depending on whether they are wholly or partly funded by the church (the latter is more common).

In 2002, Frank Dobson proposed an amendment to the Education Bill (for England & Wales) which would limit the selection rights of faith schools by requiring them to offer at least a quarter of places to children of another or no religion, in order to increase inclusivity and lessening social division.[3] The proposal was defeated in Parliament.

In 2005, David Bell, the head of the Office for Standards in Education said "Faith should not be blind. I worry that many young people are being educated in faith-based schools, with little appreciation of their wider responsibilities and obligations to British society. This growth in faith schools needs to be carefully but sensitively monitored by government to ensure that pupils receive an understanding of not only their own faith but of other faiths and the wider tenets of British society".[4] He criticised Islamic schools in particular, calling them a "threat to national identity".[4]

In October 2006, Bishop Kenneth Stevenson, speaking on behalf of the Church of England, said "I want to make a specific commitment that all new Church of England schools should have at least 25% of places available to children with no requirement that they be from practising Christian families."[5] This commitment applies only to new schools, not existing ones.

In September 2007, attempts to create the first secular school in Britain were blocked. Dr Paul Kelley, head of Monkseaton High School in Tyneside, proposed plans to eliminate the daily act of Christian worship, and "a fundamental change in the relationship with the school and the established religion of the country".[6]

In November 2007, the Krishna-Avanti Hindu school in north-west London became the first school in the United Kingdom to make vegetarianism a condition of entry.[7] Additionally, parents of pupils are expected to abstain from alcohol to prove they are followers of the faith.

In November 2007, the Jewish Free School in north London was found guilty of discrimination for giving preference to children who were born to Jewish mothers.[8]

In January 2008 the House of Commons' Children, Schools and Families select committee raised concerns about the government's plans for expanding faith schooling.[9] The general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Dr. Mary Bousted, said "Unless there are crucial changes in the way many faith schools run we fear divisions in society will be exacerbated. In our increasingly multi-faith and secular society it is hard to see why our taxes should be used to fund schools which discriminate against the majority of children and potential staff because they are not of the same faith".[9]

Voluntary aided schools such as Church of England and Catholic schools are not allowed to discriminate against staff of other faiths except in the appointment of religious education teachers. They are only asked to be sympathetic of the particular religious ethos.


English education includes many schools linked to the Church of England which sets the ethos of the school and can influence selection of pupils where there is competition for places. These form a large proportion of the 6,955 Christian faith schools in England. The Roman Catholic church also maintains schools. In addition, there are 36 Jewish, seven Muslim and two Sikh faith schools. Faith schools follow the same national curriculum as state schools. Religious education in Church of England schools is monitored by the local diocese, but does not typically take up much more of the timetable than in secular schools. Although not state schools, there are around 700 unregulated madrassas in Britain, attended by approximately 100,000 Muslim children. Doctor Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, has called for them to be subject to government inspection following publication of a 2006 report which highlighted widespread physical and sexual abuse.[10]


Scotland has its own educational system, distinct from that of England and Wales. Although schools existed in Scotland prior to the Reformation widespread public education in Scotland was pioneered by the Church of Scotland, which handed over its parish schools to the state in 1872. Although these schools are now known as "non-denominational" schools, and are open to all, their traditional links with the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches and clergy remain in most cases.

Charitably funded Roman Catholic schools were brought into the state system by the Education (Scotland) Act 1918. Whilst maintaining a strong Catholic ethos, Scottish Catholic schools have long welcomed pupils from other faith backgrounds, though they tend to give precedence to non-Catholics who come from families of faith. In Scottish Catholic schools employment of non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics can be restricted by the Church. In some dioceses, one of the requirements for applicants baptised as Catholic is to possess a certificate which has been signed by their parish priest. Each diocese varies on the method of approval and the rigour with which it is applied.[11] Non-Catholic applicants are not required to provide any religious documentation.[citation needed] Certain positions, such as headteachers, religious education teachers and guidance teachers are invariably held by practising Roman Catholics.[11]

Unlike in England and Wales, Scottish schools do not normally have the practice of school-wide daily assembly/worship; this applies even to denominational schools.

United States

Historically, most American parochial schools have been Catholic schools (often elementary schools attached to a local parish), as well as schools run by Lutherans, Calvinists and Orthodox Jews. In recent years thousands of Fundamentalist religious schools have been founded, especially in the South, though they are not usually called "parochial." There have always been a number of non-religious private schools, especially elite "prep" schools in the Northeast.

Catholic private schools also exist and are not necessarily connected with a parish.

As a rule, parochial schools are open to all children in the parish. Thus parochial school systems function as quasi-public educational networks, in parallel to the state-school systems, the key difference being that parochial systems are largely supported by donations to the parish while state schools are funded by taxes. Out-of-pocket costs to the student attending a parochial school are usually much greater than an equivalent public school, which is taxpayer subsidized, though the actual cost on a per-student basis is on average nearly double for public schools.[12] Although, it costs parents much more for their children to attend, teachers are generally paid less than those at an equivalent public school.[13] For example, in 1998, they were paid about 45% less than public school teachers.[14]


The development of the American Catholic parochial school system can be divided into three phases. During the first (1750–1870), parochial schools appeared as ad hoc efforts by parishes, and most Catholic children attended public schools. During the second period (1870–1910), the Catholic hierarchy made a basic commitment to a separate Catholic school system. These parochial schools, like the big-city parishes around them, tended to be ethnically homogeneous; a German child would not be sent to an Irish school, nor vice-versa, nor a Lithuanian pupil to either. Instruction in the language of the old country was common. In the third period (1910–1945), Catholic education was modernized and modeled after the public school systems, and ethnicity was deemphasized in many areas. In cities with large Catholic populations (such as Chicago and Boston) there was a flow of teachers, administrators, and students from one system to the other.[15]

In addition to the Catholics, the German Lutherans and Calvinist Dutch also began parochial schools, as did Orthdox Jews.

Starting from about 1876, thirty nine states (out of 50) passed a constitutional amendment to their state constitutions, called "Blaine Amendments," forbidding tax money be used to fund parochial schools. In 2002, the United States Supreme Court upheld an Ohio law allowing aid under specific circumstances.[16]


Since the time of the Spaniards, schools have been traditionally run by the church and the different religious orders. Parochial schools are run by the parishes while Catholic schools are administered by the dioceses or religious orders.

Metro Manila

In the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and its suffragan dioceses, the parochial schools are being supervised by the Manila Archdiocesan Parochial Schools Association and its affiliates like the Diocese of Cubao Educational System or and the Parochial Schools Association of Novaliches. These organisations are overseen by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines through the Episcopal Commission on Catechism and Christian Education.[citation needed]

See also

Further reading

United States

  • Lazerson, Marvin. "Understanding American Catholic Educational History," History of Education Quarterly 1977 17(3): 297-317 in JSTOR
  • Perko, F. Michael. "Religious Schooling In America: An Historiographic Reflection," History of Education Quarterly 2000 40(3): 320-338 in JSTOR
  • Raiche, C.S.J., Annabelle, and Ann Marie Biermaier, O.S.B. They Came to Teach: The Story of Sisters Who Taught in Parochial Schools and Their Contribution to Elementary Education in Minnesota (St. Cloud, Minnesota: North Star Press, 1994)271pp.
  • Walch, Timothy. Parish School: American Catholic Parochial Education from Colonial Times to the Present, (New York: Crossroad, 1996) 301 pp.


  1. ^ Wiktionary definition Accessed 2008-01-22
  2. ^ Church of England
  3. ^ "Faith school rebels defeated". BBC News. 2002-02-07. 
  4. ^ a b Tony Halpin (2005-01-18). "Islamic schools are threat to national identity". [[The Times (UK)|]].,,2-1445275,00.html. 
  5. ^ Alexandra Smith (2006-10-03). "Church promises school places to non-Christians". The Guardian.,,1886650,00.html. 
  6. ^ Anushka Asthana (2007-09-23). "Crisis of faith in first secular school". The Guardian.,,2175879,00.html. 
  7. ^ Polly Curtis (2007-11-29). "Hindu school is first to make vegetarianism a condition of entry". The Guardian.,,2218801,00.html. 
  8. ^ Polly Curtis (2007-11-28). "Jewish school told to change admission rules". The Guardian.,,2218154,00.html. 
  9. ^ a b Anthea Lipsett and agencies (2008-01-02). "MPs to voice concerns over faith schools". The Guardian.,,2234164,00.html. 
  10. ^ Alexandra Smith (2006-03-22). "Call for national register of mosque schools". The Guardian.,,1736861,00.html. 
  11. ^ a b Gordon Cairns (2007-12-04). "My lack of faith stopped me being accepted". The Guardian.,,2221130,00.html. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Steven Greenhouse (1999-08-08). "Teachers' Pay: Adding Up the Impact of Raising Salaries". 
  15. ^ Lazerson (1977)
  16. ^ "Zeman vs Simmon-Harris, US Supreme Court certoriari 00-1751". 2002-06-27. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • parochial school — ☆ parochial school n. a school supported and controlled by a church …   English World dictionary

  • parochial school — noun a private religious school run by a church or parish • Syn: ↑church school • Hypernyms: ↑religious school • Hyponyms: ↑Catholic school * * * noun, pl ⋯ schools [count] US : a private school that is run by a church parish …   Useful english dictionary

  • parochial school — a primary or secondary private school supervised by a religious organization, esp. a Roman Catholic day school affiliated with a parish or a holy order. Cf. church school. [1745 55] * * * …   Universalium

  • parochial school — pa rochial .school n AmE a private school which is run by or connected with a church …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • parochial school — pa rochial ,school noun count AMERICAN a school connected with a particular church that usually provides religious education as well as general education …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • parochial school — paro′chial school n. edu a primary or secondary school maintained by a religious organization • Etymology: 1745–55 …   From formal English to slang

  • parochial school — A school maintained by a church or religious body, coupling religious instruction with instruction as given in the public schools. Yanow v Seven Oaks Park, Inc. 11 NJ 341, 94 A2d 482, 36 ALR2d 639. See sectarian school …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • parochial school — noun Date: 1755 a private school maintained by a religious body usually for elementary and secondary instruction …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • parochial school — noun A school associated with the parish of a church …   Wiktionary

  • parochial school — noun North American term for church school …   English new terms dictionary