The development of themelic Christian schools in Australia

Year: 1994

Author: Long, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Themelic Christian schools began in Australia in 1962 in a reformed and evangelical tradition and context distinctively different from other Protestant denominational, Catholic and ecumenical schools. The rhetoric of being "Christ-centred" and "biblical" serve as shibboleths for these schools which are founded on a fundamentalist epistemology. In practice many of these schools operate on a pragmatic/utilitarian basis which results in considerable conflict and schism within the movement.

In 1994 in Australia these schools numbered 287 and had approximately 55,000 students and continue to grow at the rate of 8% annually. This represents approximately 7% of the non-government school sector and 45% of the Protestant school sector. The only research even remotely connected to these schools was presented in the Australian Journal of Education by Don Anderson (1993), Prideaux and Speck (1994). Their research has been inadequate and inaccurate. Very few educators or bureaucrats understand the dynamic of the fastest-growing school sector in Australia in the past 30 years. There are six different types of themelic schools and seven tertiary themelic institutions. The Australian Association of Christian Schools represents the majority of these schools providing financial services and a significant lobby in Canberra.