Catholic Education in Nova Scotia: Understanding Parents and their Motives for Enrolling their Children in Catholic Schools

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Ortile, Alva Lolit S.
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The small Catholic school community in Nova Scotia must rely upon networking and working with each other to provide updates and exchange views with each school. Understanding why parents support Catholic schools in Nova Scotia will greatly help the Catholic school community in providing direction and informing leadership for existing Catholic schools. It is important to know what parents are seeking when they chose Catholic schools, as the survival of these schools depends on the tuition-paying parents. In this study, the researcher sought to understand the motives that parents in Nova Scotia have for enrolling their children in Catholic schools. This research employed a mixed method study which illustrates two major perspectives in research. Descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations, percentages) were used to tabulate and analyze the survey data. The researcher did a face-to-face interview with a small number of parents and each interview was audio taped and transcribed by the researcher. Common characteristics among parents interviewed were identified based from the survey, and themes were established based on interview results. An examination of previous dissertations conducted revealed a list of factors parents consider in choosing Catholic schools. This list was utilized to develop the factors presented to parents in the survey and during the interview. Parents were asked to rate each of 25 reasons for choosing a Catholic school on a Likert-type scale. Three out of the four invited Catholic schools in Nova Scotia with an elementary level participated in the study. Ten out of 10 Catholic parents from School A answered the survey. Twenty-seven out of the 58 surveys distributed to Catholic parents in School B were completed. Three out of four Catholic parents from School C completed the survey. Five parents from School A, four parents from School B and three parents from School C were interviewed. In total, survey return rate was 40 out of 72 (55.56%) and twelve Catholic parents were interviewed. Analysis of parent interviews revealed several factors out of the 25 given choices are interconnected but are subsequent under four major themes. The first factor considered is that the school’s philosophy mirrors that of home. The next factor considered is the quality of curriculum, and that is linked with well-defined academic structure and instructional goals. The third factor identified is the school’s emphasis on religious and moral values. The fourth factor related to the teachers. Parents recognize the value of the teachers’ commitment, their high behavioral expectations from children and their involvement in the academic but also the character formation of the child. The fifth factor identified is related to school environment. Parents give importance to the safe school environment and the warm and friendly school climate. This is associated with parent’s perception of a sense of community in these schools
Nova Scotia , Religion , Catholicism , Education , Catholic school , Parental choice