Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID)

Religious education in a multicultural society: School and home in comparative context

This research project explores the transmission of religious and secular beliefs and values through the education system and the family in Scotland. It is part of a collaborative European project which includes Belgium (Flanders), Germany, Ireland and Malta. The research will use case studies of three to four primary schools selected to capture diversity in school policy and practice. The key aim is to provide a holistic picture of the interaction between home and school in shaping the transmission of religious and secular belief systems.


The study addresses the following specific research questions:

  • How does the structure and nature of the education system impact on the inclusion of secular, majority and minority religious groups?
  • How does the structure within which school choice (at both primary and secondary levels) takes place affect the degree of segregation between religious groups? What consequences does any such segregation have for inter-group relations?
  • What role do religious affiliation and religious or secular beliefs play in parents’ choice of primary school and subsequent choice of secondary school for their children? How is religion balanced against other factors, such as academic reputation, social mix, gender mix and location?
  • What is the role of the school in terms of (i) formal policies and practices and (ii) informal climate/ethos in the religious education of primary school children?
  • Do tensions arise between school and family over the religious formation of primary school-going children? What tends to happen in these circumstances?
  • How do primary school-going children view their own religious and social identity in the context of both home and school?
  • Do parents and children see differences between secular ethical beliefs and religiously-informed ethical beliefs?


Start date 1st January 2008
End date 31st December 2009

Project team


Religious and moral education and multi-culturalism: Scotland in the wider European context

  • Conference presenting findings from the EU funded project: Religious Education in Multi-Cultural Societies.

Project output


For further information about the project contact Professor Sheila Riddell.

Professor Sheila Riddell

  • Centre for Research in Education, Inclusion and Diversity
  • Moray House School of Education
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Holyrood Road

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