Newspaper Religion + Catholic Schools

Today’s stories feature a longitudinal survey of the religious content of major national newspapers and the results of the 2012 annual census of Catholic schools in England and Wales.

Coverage of religion in newspapers

The proportion of page space (including advertisements) given over to religious issues in the print editions of English national newspapers in 2011 was higher in the broadsheets than in the tabloids, the range being from 0.4% in the Daily Star to 1.1% in The Guardian, with a mean of 0.7%. The mean has increased slightly since a previous survey in 1990 but remains below the figure of 0.8% in 1969. The only newspaper to reduce its religious content between 1990 and 2011 was The Independent (from 1.4 to 0.9%), at a time when The Guardian doubled its coverage. Full details are shown in the table below:  

All figures %

1969

1990

2011

TABLOIDS

 

 

 

Daily Express

0.5

0.4

0.6

Daily Mail

1.0

0.5

0.6

Daily Mirror

0.6

0.4

Daily Sketch

1.0

Daily Star

0.4

0.4

The Sun

0.8

0.5

0.6

BROADSHEETS

 

 

 

Daily Telegraph

0.5

0.7

1.0

The Guardian

1.1

0.5

1.1

The Independent

1.4

0.9

The Times

0.8

0.7

0.7

MEAN

0.8

0.6

0.7

The amount of this religious newspaper content assessed as being of a hostile nature fell from 18 to 16% across all the newspapers combined between 1969 and 1990 but almost doubled, to 29%, in 2011. The peak is to be found in the tabloid titles. Two-thirds of the religious coverage in the Daily Star is now of a negative character, one-half that in The Sun, and one-third in the Daily Express and Daily Mail. Hostile reporting is around one-fifth in two of the broadsheets (Daily Telegraph and The Guardian) but negligible in The Independent and The Times, albeit back in 1969 The Times stood at 17%. A major explanation for the growth in hostile content is to be found in the large number of anti-Muslim stories today (explored more fully in the forthcoming Cambridge University Press book by Paul Baker, Costas Gabrielatos and Tony McEnery, Discourse Analysis and Media Attitudes: The Representation of Islam in the British Press). The statistics of hostile coverage for each title follow: 

All figures %

1969

1990

2011

TABLOIDS

 

 

 

Daily Express

11

12

31

Daily Mail

18

30

35

Daily Mirror

12

12

Daily Sketch

35

Daily Star

25

65

The Sun

28

47

49

BROADSHEETS

 

 

 

Daily Telegraph

11

11

23

The Guardian

13

1

21

The Independent

2

3

The Times

17

6

4

MEAN

18

16

29

Source: Survey of the religious content of print editions of English national newspapers undertaken by Professor Robin Gill (now of the University of Kent) over four-week periods in August 1969, July 1990, and January-February 2011. Such content was defined as ‘items referring explicitly to religious institutions, their functionaries, or their central transcendent beliefs’, thereby excluding horoscopes (which occupied a large amount of space in the tabloids). Findings are reported textually in Gill’s Theology in a Social Context: Sociological Theology, Volume 1 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4094-2594-6, paperback, £19.99), chapter 11, pp. 187-205. The foregoing tables have been compiled by BRIN from Gill’s text, with some data also taken from his summary of the 1969 and 1990 surveys in his The Myth of the Empty Church (London: SPCK, 1993), p. 322.

Catholic schools in England and Wales

As at January 2012, there were 2,257 Catholic schools and colleges in England and Wales, 2,118 in the maintained and 139 in the independent sector. Four-fifths of all schools educated children to primary level only. There were 103 fewer schools (4%) than in 2011, although the number of pupils at them rose slightly (by under 1%). The total of pupil enrolments was 795,955 in the maintained sector (equivalent to 10% of all pupils in English schools but somewhat less in Wales) and 42,801 in the independent sector.

The number of Catholic pupils at these Catholic schools was 71% for maintained schools in England, 60% for maintained schools in Wales, and 37% in independent schools. The proportion also varied by educational phase, being 73% in maintained primary schools, 69% in secondary schools, and just 44% in sixth form colleges. Rather fewer of the teachers at Catholic schools were Catholics (55% in the maintained and 34% in the independent sector), the maintained figure having fallen by three points since 2007. In the maintained sector the number of Catholic teachers dropped from 68% in primary schools to 44% in secondary schools to 35% in colleges.

For England some comparisons are possible with the overall national picture. Thus, Catholic maintained schools attracted 6% more pupils from ethnic minorities than the national average, but 2% fewer of all their pupils than the norm were eligible for free school meals. On the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), 4% more pupils attending Catholic maintained primary schools than all maintained primary schools lived in the most deprived 10% of areas. At secondary level the differential was 5% in favour of Catholic schools.

Source: Census of Catholic schools and colleges in England and Wales undertaken by the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) in January 2012, with a response rate of 98% (the best ever achieved in these annual surveys). Selected tables and analysis are contained in the CESEW’s Digest of 2012 Census Data for Schools and Colleges, which has just been published and is available at:

http://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/index.php/ces-census

An expert commentary on the Digest by Tony Spencer of the Pastoral Research Centre Trust will shortly be published on his blog at:

http://www.prct.org.uk/

 


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