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The Role of the Secondary School Chaplain in Relation to School Ethos: Six Case Studies

Hunt, Joshua (2021) The Role of the Secondary School Chaplain in Relation to School Ethos: Six Case Studies. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

There is a rapid increase in the number of chaplains working in secondary schools within the UK, and their contributions to pastoral care are well documented and evidenced. Less explored are the chaplains’ contributions to school ethos and culture. Despite a chaplain’s impact upon school ethos and culture showing the potential for significant impact upon school communities, this is an area which is only addressed infrequently in school chaplaincy research. This aspect of a chaplain’s role needs further attention in order to fully explore and understand its impact and influence.

This research utilises a case study approach and explores chaplaincy in six different school contexts across the spectrum of educational institutions. The role of the chaplain in relation to school ethos is uncovered, by hearing of the lived experience of students, staff and chaplains.

This study identified a characteristic duality in the chaplain’s work, as they simultaneously ministered to both individuals and the whole of the school community. There were identified tensions and challenges as chaplains balanced their commitments to both the person and the institution. A series of ‘modes’ were identified to capture new language of how the chaplain interacts with the concept of school ethos, including times when the chaplain was perceived to have taken sole responsibility for this area of school life. The study used a bespoke theoretical framework to identify complex layers of ethos at work within school communities, and to understand the chaplain’s role as ‘translator’ between them.

This study identified five distinctive features of chaplaincy that explained why the chaplain was able to make such important contributions to the work of embedding school ethos. These included the chaplain’s impartiality, relationships, peaceful presence, authority and their depth and embodiment.

This research thereby demonstrates a way to frame and understand the chaplain’s under researched yet important contribution to this significant area of school life.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Humanities and Performing Arts
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2021 17:10
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2021 17:14

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