Should Ethics be Taught?

While church connection helps to promote moral and ethical behaviour and worldviews among young people, religious schools do not have a consistently positive impact in that regard.

This is the inference which can be drawn from the charts and summaries contained in a somewhat skeletal report entitled Should Ethics be Taught? Published a few months back, it is available to download at:

Commissioned by the Money & Morals secondary school programme, a project of the Jewish Association for Business Ethics, the underlying data in the report derive from questionnaires completed by 10,000 year 9 and 10 pupils (aged 13 to 15) at schools in England and Wales in 2008-10. They were compiled by Jemma Penny, of the St Mary’s Centre in Wales, in association with Professor Leslie Francis of the University of Warwick.

Churchgoing students were found to be less likely to condone cheating in examinations, fare-dodging on public transport and shoplifting than their non-worshipping counterparts. However, pupils at religious schools were actually more tolerant of all three moral failings than those at county schools. 

Churchgoing students also tended to be more positive about their future life in the workplace than non-church-attenders. But differences between pupils at religious and county schools on these questions were less conclusive, albeit the former were 3% more optimistic about the contribution which they could make to the world than the former (69% versus 66%).

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