Frequently Asked Questions

Scotland’s long Christian history has been the dominant factor in giving its people a set of values which has guided both individual lives and the public standards of the nation.
Although our country is now more diverse, we believe it is important for young people to explore these Christian values in their education so that they can understand the background of their nation, their own identity and their place in society.
Any list of Christian values is necessarily extensive, but they might be summarised as:
• Experiencing a sense of wonder at and promoting care for the natural world
• Recognising the importance of the spiritual dimension and of faith in God
• Pursuing wisdom through learning and personal experience
• Respecting the worth and dignity of each individual
• Maintaining integrity, compassion and humility in personal dealings
• Encouraging constructive and creative work, and maintaining a healthy balance between work and leisure
• Seeking the common good, enjoying its benefits and working for an equitable distribution of resources
• Promoting justice, tolerance, forgiveness and healing in national and world affairs

The Christian Values in Education programme aims to provide:

  • A wide range of continuously updated online resources, advice and networking for Christian organisations and churches, youth workers, parents and volunteers seeking to work with and support schools across Scotland
  • Resources and networking, plus face-to-face training for teachers, schools workers, chaplains, parents and volunteers supporting schools across Scotland
  • A rationale and clear evidence for the importance of continuing Christian involvement in Scottish schools, supporting schools in practical ways and enabling children and young people to make informed choices about beliefs and values

The Christian Values in Education programme is part of the voluntary sector, one of many initiatives aimed at supporting and enhancing our school system. We are entirely committed to working within Scottish Government guidelines in general and Curriculum for Excellence in particular. Like many other voluntary sector initiatives (Fairtrade Schools, Young Co-operatives, MoneySense for Schools, Humanist Society School Visits Programme, Tennis on the Road, WWF in Schools, Amnesty International Education, to name but a few), we do not receive government funding. Instead like all such initiatives, we are committed to providing help, resources and perspectives without which our schools would be less diverse and much poorer.

There is no join-up fee and you do not have to become a member of CVE to be involved. However, do Register online in order to get the latest information. You may well also want to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages, which are another very immediate way of getting updates. Then simply start exploring the website for all the resources and ideas that you need. If you would like more personalised help, sign up for one of our periodic area meetings or contact us at

Curriculum for Excellence insists that learning shouldn’t be put in boxes. That’s why interdisciplinary learning is so important. But more than that, the values and relationships of everyone in a school are crucial to how people learn. And for the same reason, a school needs a really close relationship with its local community, with people from the community actively involved in giving support. So we’re very keen to support all aspects of school life; putting learning experiences of any sort in boxes is old-fashioned and doesn’t work.

Look at the “How to…”  and “It’s Happening!” sections of this website and you’ll see lots of ideas on how to get involved. Another great source of ideas is Provided that you can be flexible and respond to the real needs of the school, they’re likely to be keen for you to be involved in quite a variety of activity (and of course for any sustained involvement you need to be PVG checked). A school chaplain who later became Moderator of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly once distinguished himself by wading waist-deep up a raging torrent on a school’s outdoor residential week – but there are easier ways of getting involved!

The Scottish Government expects all schools to have a clear set of values based on the Values on the Scottish Mace: justice, wisdom, integrity, and compassion. Schools must base their policies and practices on these values, they should be taught directly and indirectly, and children and young people are expected to understand and adhere to them in their relationships with others. Like nearly all the values of our society, these core values come from our Christian heritage. Curriculum for Excellence requires Scottish non-denominational schools to help all children and young people to develop a sound understanding of different systems of belief, and be given the critical tools to make informed choices between them. As part of this, they should be given the opportunity to participate in service to others and to meet people who show their faith in action. It is a fundamental misunderstanding to see Secularism as somehow “neutral”. It is of course simply one belief system among many, which should be open to the same learning, analysis and free choice as the others.

Chaplains in non-denominational schools are appointed by the Head Teacher, and should reflect the range of religious backgrounds in the school’s catchment area. Increasingly, schools are appointing Chaplaincy Teams with several Chaplains from different denominations. Where faith-based Schools Workers are available, they frequently make very effective chaplains. Her Majesty’s Inspectors also look favourably on the Chaplaincy Committee approach, which involves both pupils and committed teachers working in partnership with external chaplains: see Permissions and Boundaries/Anytown School Chaplaincy Policy.

To quote the Scottish Government Education Department, “RO can offer opportunities for young people to reflect meaningfully on different points of view and values, including their own. It creates chances to think about the nature and possible meaning of life and humans’ place in the world. It can promote critical thinking, supporting the development of an awareness that not all people think the same or share the same ideas and experiences about life. In this way, RO can contribute to development of the four capacities: successful learner, confident individual, effective contributor and responsible citizen.”

The most up-to-date Scottish Government guidance (30th March 2017) states: “RO needs to take place sufficiently frequently to have an impact on the spiritual development of the school community. It is, however, the quality of such occasions which is of greatest importance. It is important to balance the frequency which would have a positive impact on children and young people with the need to ensure that the experiences are meaningful and inclusive. Every school should provide opportunities for RO several times in a school year, in addition to traditional celebrations central to the life of the school community This will require careful planning, and the school community as well as parents and carers should be involved in making decisions about frequency. We recognise that many primary schools value weekly RO as part of their regular assembly programme and will wish to continue with this.

Remember though that there is permission and indeed encouragement for approaches that think “out-of-the-box”. With Curriculum for Excellence, learning is increasingly active and participative. Pupils learn by working with others, discussing ideas and strategies, moving around rather than sitting in silent rows. The more that R.O. activities reflect these approaches, the more they are likely to be welcomed. They also need to be integrated with activities and themes that children and young people are involved in for the rest of the week.

Definitely not. The Scottish school system is based on the concept of liberal education: children and young people are helped to develop their understanding of all aspects of life and are also given the critical tools necessary to make their own informed choices. Since what we believe about life is crucial to how we behave in life, the study of belief systems and the values that derive from them is an essential part of learning (beliefs include Christianity and indeed secular humanism). The key is that children and young people should be given the understanding and tools to make informed choices. The Christian Values in Education programme exists to support schools in this aim, by making resources and approaches available which schools can use as they wish.

Go to the “Get Support” sections of this website for ideas, both for online resources and training meetings. Also look at our News section for updates on area meetings and other courses. Remember, if you are a teacher, training in aspects of Christian Values in Education can count towards your annual record of Continuous Professional Development. As with all CPD, focus on what will really help in your classroom/whole school responsibilities – and then put it into practice. (Please don’t forget to tell us how you’re getting on – just a quick email to or look at our easy-to-use “Submit a Resource” tool.)

CVE wants to complement the many other organisations and programmes that support Scottish schools. For example, the excellent Global Dimension website focuses on Global Citizenship: Likewise WWF in Schools deals with sustainability ; Amnesty International Education supports learning about Human Rights in schools. We all agree that the themes we focus on can enhance subjects across the curriculum. In order to reflect Christian Values, you’ll certainly be making use of a whole variety of excellent sites, not just ours.

Christian Values in Education starts with values and relationships. Look at Teachers/It’s Happening/Whole-School Values for an example of one school that has seen benefits for every child through these approaches. And to think it through yourself, look at Teachers/How to…think more deeply about why I’m a teacher – or visit

There are many practical ways in which Christian chaplains, schools workers and volunteers give literally 1000s of hours of unpaid support to schools the length and breadth of Scotland. Schools are strongly encouraged to work in partnership with the community, and no other part of the voluntary sector gives nearly as much support. Look at the “How to…” and “It’s Happening!” sections for lots of ideas.

For a full discussion of this key question, it’s worth looking at our position paper, “A Place for Christian Values in Scottish Education”