The place of religion in the English education system has always been an issue of debate, ever since the establishment of universal schooling around the turn of the 20th Century. Such questions have often focused on the extent to which religion should be viewed as a public or private affair, and hence whether or not it should have a role in state schooling. This article presents qualitative research that examines the role of religion in the ethos of two different schooling models and the associated construction of state institutional space and home/civic space in each. Drawing on Davie’s (2007) concept of ‘vicarious religion’, the article highlights the continued presence of certain types of religious and spiritual manifestations in the public sphere. In so doing, it contributes to wider debates about secularization and the role of religion in modern liberal democracies.