The effects of a Jewish primary school education in England on the religious observance and practice of less or non-observant parents of the pupils
The main aim of this research is to determine whether or not there has been any noticeable change in the level of religious observance and practice of less or non-observant parents which directly or indirectly can be attributed to the influence of their children and the Jewish primary school they attend. There is a frequently voiced assumption amongst those involved in Jewish education that parents, whose children attend a Jewish primary school, have increased their level of observance due to the influence of their children and the school. However, no previous research has been carried out in the United Kingdom in order to examine the basis of this premise. The purpose ofmy own research is to test this assumption in a thorough and rigorous manner by means of both questionnaires and in-depth interviews with parents of pupils attending three Jewish primary schools in England. In addition, there are two further specific areas that will be investigated as supplementary parts ofthe main research: [i] To compare the extent of similarities and differences of any such changes in religious observance between those Jewish families in England who formed part ofmy study, and those in the USA whose children attend Jewish day schools, who have also been the subject of separate research in the USA. [ii] To determine whether within the data of this research study, there is any correlation with previous research in the field of social psychology regarding causes and effects of social conformity and deviation. The data from this specific area of research will be used to focus on the effects of a crucial inter-connection between parents, children and the school. The thesis includes an examination of previous allied research and its implications relating to the nature of religious identity and changes in parental behaviour attributed to the influence of their children's Jewish education. It also contains chapters outlining the historical and social background which led to a weakening ofJewish religious observance in the UK during the zo" century and a study of the changing role of the traditional Jewish family and its effect on the levels of religious observance in Anglo-Jewry. The data from questionnaires and interviews are analysed in a thorough manner. The results and conclusions of this thesis should be of benefit to those planning and administering Jewish primary schools in the UK.