School ethos and academic productivity : the Catholic effect
This thesis is a study of the comparative academic effectiveness of Catholic schools in England. It uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches to investigate the hypothesis that, pupils who attend Catholic comprehensive schools will, all things being equal, achieve higher levels of academic attainment in GCSE examinations at the age of sixteen than similar pupils attending other maintained comprehensive schools. The study reviews the published findings of research in this field in England and the United States of America and reports previously unpublished analysis of the results of school inspections made under Section 9 of the Education Act 1992 by OFSTED. There has been very little empirical research into the academic effectiveness of Catholic schools in England. Findings that have been reported have arisen from studies which were focused on other issues and this facet of the results has not been investigated further. In contrast, in the USA there has been a significant quantity of large scale research indicating the academic superiority of schools in the Catholic sector. The research uses a simple form of multi-level modelling as the main analytical tool to compare the performance of pupils (n = 2335) attending eighteen comprehensive schools in a medium sized shire county. In addition, a case study approach is used to compare two different models of Catholic school in the sample to highlight factors which may contribute to their differing levels of academic productivity. The findings partly confirm previous research that has indicated the superiority of Catholic schools in England and extends understanding of the possible causes of that superiority. The study suggests areas for further research and possible applications of the findings for Church authorities and other providers of maintained schools.