Hanna de Jong-Markus

Summary 165 and teachers are free to apply wherever they prefer. Knowledge about the motives of teachers who choose OPPSs could provide more insight into the specific characteristics and rationales of these schools. Examining what individual teachers think about religious schools has become even more important, as individualised religion is on the rise, while the formal ideas of school boards and church councils have become less influential, and thus provide less insight. Therefore, in this second sub-study the central question is the following: Is the mono-religious school characteristic important for teachers working at Dutch OPPSs, and what are the reasons for this? Orthodox Protestants form a modest subculture within Dutch society, though this subculture is not as closed as it was in earlier times. In the mission statements of OPPSs, references to the Bible and the Reformed or Calvinist faith claims are central. OPPSs are often connected with local religious communities, although they can only be founded by associations of individual parents and not by ecclesiastical organisations. Teachers in OPPSs are practicing members of orthodox Protestant churches. Some OPPSs demand this of the pupils as well, while other OPPSs are open to children of all backgrounds. OPPS teachers are likely to make connections between their religious beliefs and the curriculum and pedagogy. There has been very little research on why teachers choose to work at OPPSs instead of mainline Protestant or other schools, but there are some studies of Dutch OPPS teachers available that deal with teachers’ perceptions of the religious dimension of schools and the religious dimension of their job. These studies indicate that the monoreligious characteristic is important in the opinion of teachers. Looking more broadly at studies about teachers’ school choices in other countries, most are concerned with the normally espoused preferences of teachers, such as salary, principal support and student characteristics. However, in one study it was highlighted that teachers’ feelings of comfort and familiarity play a decisive role in their actual decisions. Studies about the school choice of Dutch OPPS parents are performed regularly. These indicate that the school choice of OPPS parents stands out from that of the parents of other Christian schools, as OPPS parents place a stronger emphasis on the school’s religious dimension. They also highlight the close connection between home and school. Empirical research in the international context has shown related reasons among parents who feel the need for separate schooling for their children, namely: education about religious and cultural traditions, protection from outside influence, offering a specific social and moral framework and insuring continued adherence to the faith.