Most of our independent schools in Great Britain have a religious origin and the campuses of many are dominated by school chapels. The earliest surviving foundations, including Eton and Winchester, contain vestiges of their religious inspiration in their statutes and constitutions. Some of the older grammar schools began life as training places for developing Protestantism, while the older Catholic schools were staffed by the religious orders notably Jesuits and Benedictines.
Many of today’s schools have, however, lost their overtly religious character and followed Oxford and Cambridge into a world where academic success and ‘excellence’ are the dominant ideals. Religious elements remain in music and drama, but a strong ethical foundation based on shared values seems to have largely disappeared.