Survey on Religious Education (RE)
in Catholic schools

This research project investigates the views of both educators (especially RE teachers) and senior school students on two questions:-

1. The language currently used for talking about classroom Religious Education.

2. The idea of giving more attention in Religious Education to studying contemporary issues and the search for meaning in a culture that is changing rapidly – at social, globalised and environmental levels – especially for senior classes.

Called the 'stop and think' survey because of its purpose to prompt thinking about issues with the language used to describe Religious Education. In particular, it tests whether there is evidence that educators identify the problem of 'ecclesiastical drift' in the language of Catholic school Religious Education.

This web page gives a brief account of what the surveys are about -- including the introductions taken directly from the questionnaires.
It provides links to both the questionnaires.
Download a research report that interprets the results of a test of the Educators' questionnaire with 74 participant ( 47 from Australia and 27 from overseas)
Download a shorter article length pdf document reporting on the empirical study of educators' views on this question, where the questionnaire was tested with 74 participants. Click here for the version of the article available on the the Preprints publication website. Preprints 2022, 2022110050 (Doi: 10.20944/preprints202211.0050.v1).

Why do this research?

The research paper elsewhere on this site discussed the role of school religious education in helping young people construct meaning, purpose and values; and it considered that the current trajectory of Catholic school Religious Education was, in the main, focused elsewhere -- 'inwardly' on the Catholic church at the very time when it needed a more 'outwards' focus. This was labelled as the problem of 'ecclesiastical drift' in the discourse of Catholic Religious Education.

What do the educators and senior students think about these two issues? This empirical research sets out to answer that question.


The Educators' survey takes about 20 minutes to complete. Some initial respondents to the online version said it took longer, because the questions prompted them to pause and think about the issues -- the survey took on the function of reviewing what they thought about the nature and purposes of classroom Religious Education, and about what language and constructs they were relying on to articulate this.

The Students' survey takes about 15 minutes.

The surveys are presently available for download in pdf and docx formats. The fully online versions are currently disconnected and will be re-posted to the Survey Monkey website when needed. Schools and school systems are welcome to use the surveys. If they want the online format activated for use, contact Graham Rossiter on

Educators' survey on the language of Religious Education
Senior Students' survey on the language of Religious Education

Click here or the icon on the left to download the Educators' survey in pdf format.

Click here for a docx file format of the Educators/ survey

Click here or the icon on the left to download the Senior Students' survey in pdf format.

Click here for a docx file format of the Students' survey.


Some notes about the surveys (taken from the questionnaires)

The surveys focus only on language used in the discourse (or narrative) of classroom Religious Education – that is: key words, ideas and constructs used for describing purposes and practices .

They are not concerned with other parts of the school's overall religious program like liturgy, retreats, school prayer, outreach, community service, school ethos, charism etc. It will not address personal aspects or details of the spirituality/religious faith of students.

Background to the research questions

The language used for talking about Religious Education is important because it has a shaping influence on understandings of what Religious Education might do best for students in today's culture. And in turn, this can affect the scope, content and teaching methods. It influences teachers' understanding of the place of Religious Education in the Catholic school curriculum, and on how they see their role in the classroom, and what impact they hope it will have on their students.

In times of rapid social change, and even more so during a global pandemic, the presumptions people make about religion and ‘the good life' can appear shaky and contingent, creating uncertainty and anxiety about the future. Parts of the school curriculum may be able to give more attention to studying directly the way people try to construct meaning, purpose and values for life in a relatively secularised society . The proposal being looked at here is how Religious Education might adapt to make a useful contribution in this direction in the senior classes, helping resource young people's capacity for life no matter what their level of religiosity.

In planning the future for Catholic school Religious Education, it will be helpful to have a significant input from both educators and students on these two questions.

Anonymity and confidentiality in participating in the surveys

All the information provided in the surveys will be both confidential and anonymous.

In honouring contributions to the survey, and in seeing it as important to give both religious educators and students a significant voice in the discourse of RE, a research report will be made available to participants, as well as to schools where the survey is conducted by diocesan school system authorities.The project analysis will also be reported on this website.


Click here to access the Research Report (21/01/2021).

Report on a preliminary test of a survey on the use of ecclesiastical and educational language in the discourse of Australian Catholic school Religious Education

Click here for a shorter article length report on an empirical study of educators' views on this question, where the questionnaire was tested with 74 participants. (2021)

For any further information contact

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