Hanna de Jong-Markus

Chapter 1 22 Several studies deal with the characterisation of different types of religious or Christian schools, including orthodox Protestant schools, in relation to each other. Based on conceptual analysis and empirical research, Wardekker and Miedema (2001) distinguish four types of Christian schools based primarily on how schools interpret religious truth claims.11 In the context of current research, their distinction between ‘segregated schools’ and ‘programme schools’ is interesting: both types have exclusivist programmes, yet in contrast to programme schools segregated schools do not admit pupils from other religious backgrounds. Some programme schools display an inclusivistic praxis, despite more exclusivistic principles. The research of De Wolff and colleagues (2003) about what constitutes the identity of a Christian school involves one orthodox Protestant school. For the teachers of that school, the religious dimension is all-important for identity— in contrast to teachers from other Christian schools who also define identity based on pedagogical and/or educational and organisational dimensions. The mentioned school holds an exclusivistic view of the Christian faith, compared to an inclusivistic or pluralist view in other schools. According to the teachers of this orthodox Protestant school, the Christian faith also plays a decisive role in their pedagogy and education, therefore they perceive their teaching to be distinctive. However, the researchers note ambiguity in this regard when it comes to concrete goals and daily practices, because the same teachers indicate that these do not differ from those of non-Christian teachers. Bertram-Troost and colleagues (2013) examine specifically how Dutch Protestant primary schools position themselves in relation to society’s cultural and religious diversity, and examine the extent to which the previously mentioned characterisation of Wardekker and Miedema (2001) is still appropriate after more than ten years. The researchers found that the reality is more diffuse than Wardekker and Miedema’s (2001) typology suggests, and conclude that schools’ interpretations of religious truth claims seem to be less important than the typology suggests. It also appears that especially the government’s policy (including budgets) and an increasing focus on output are recent developments that have an impact on the schools, and less so, for example, the Christian backgrounds of the schools or the increasing diversity amongst pupils and/or teachers. So called segregated schools can barely be found because many schools have a heterogenous population. It should however be noted that the strongest Christian schools were not represented in the 11 Broadly speaking, the following positions are distinguished: exclusivism (the conviction that salvation applies only to those who confess Christ as Saviour, therefore there is little room to positively value other religions), inclusivism (the conviction that also those outside Christianity can be saved, but through what Christ has done and is still doing; other religions are therefore both accepted and rejected), and pluralism (the conviction that all religions are equal paths to salvation, thus rejecting any claim to (Christian) normativity and superiority) (Moyaert, 2011).