To send this arsey email to DSs head teacher?

(212 Posts)
Cookethenook Fri 29-Mar-13 11:18:08

Dear x,
I hope you're enjoying the start of the Easter Holidays and making the most of your well earned break!

I have a bit of a complaint I'm afraid, regarding a story that Ds was told in an assembly the other day. It involved a man taking his son to work with him and the child getting stuck in a piece of machinery that operated a bridge. This resulted in the man having to make the very difficult decision between saving his son and saving a train full of people. Ds then went on to describe the fact that God had thought that the man had done the right thing by saving the train instead of his son.

I have to say, myself and my other half were really shocked by this!

I feel it's a very very adult moral dilemma to be telling ks1 children about, let alone totally despicable that in the 21st century people still feel it appropriate to put 'the fear of God' into children. I understand that the story was trying to teach a lesson about the greater good, but I have no idea why it had to be set in such a horrific situation, nor why God had to enter into it at all- surely it is better to teach children to have strong morals because THEY think it's the right thing to do, not because of what a God tells them?

Im not usually one for belittling a child's emotional intelligence, but the love that a parent has for a child is something a young child couldn't possibly comprehend. I felt that the story was completely inappropriate for the age of the children in this respect and Ds seemed quite concerned that we wouldn't save him if we were in a similar situation.

One of the main reasons we chose to move Ds from his old school was because of the fact it was c of e and being humanists, we felt that the Church of England does not teach equality or inclusion (equal marriage rights and women's rights to name a few). Now, I realise that all schools have to include collective acts of worship into their curriculum and that we have the right to withdraw Ds from them if we wish but we have not done so previously as DS enjoys Christian worship and we didn't want him to feel singled out. It would be very disappointing if we did have to withdraw him, but I really don't feel comfortable with him feeling that bad things will happen if he doesn't follow God's word.

Kind regards

I hope it's clear from the email what exactly happened. We were so shocked when DS told us in the car this morning. He really is quite fearless, but the story did seem to have confused and shocked him quite a bit. I'm not surprised tbh, if the story was a film, it would not be suitable for under 7's.

I don't feel we're overreacting about this (although I'm sure there will be those who disagree!), but is this ok to send? Anything that I should take out? I did end up having a bit if a rant, so it might not be totally coherent or relevant. I'm also not sure how to end it.

Argh, I'm so angry!

It seems fine to me but then I'm an atheist. Perhaps the opinion of a Christian would be of more help?

aftermay Fri 29-Mar-13 11:22:26

I'm an atheist. I still think your email is too much. Just tell your son it's a bonkers story and an odd choice for assembly. I'd let it go.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 11:22:29

Just ignore it, expect your ds will have forgotten it all by today.

Cookethenook Fri 29-Mar-13 11:24:37

Do you mean too much in the wording I've used or too much to send the email at all?

aftermay Fri 29-Mar-13 11:28:09

Too much to send it at all. You can deal with the distress and confusion without a formal complaint. What do you hope to get out if it? Let it go.

HollyBerryBush Fri 29-Mar-13 11:28:14

Assemblies on moral dilemma don't have to have a religious bent, however within the curriculum - and by law - all state school must provide the opportunity for 'collective worship'. It is your right to withdraw your child from that, namely assemblies.

Fairyegg Fri 29-Mar-13 11:28:38

Seems a bit of an ott email to me which i think would give the head teacher a good laugh. Are you also totally taking your ds word for what actually happened as opposed to going in and discussing it with the teacher? Can't say I would be bothered if my 6 year old learnt this story. Just talk it though with your ds and he'll soon forget.

coldandmiserable Fri 29-Mar-13 11:31:08

I would complain - this kind of lunacy drivers me crazy and I do think it's a very, very bad choice for assembly. I'd write a shorter email though and just stick to the key points. And I wouldn't mention withdrawing dc unless you REALLY mean that.

MissAnnersley Fri 29-Mar-13 11:31:19

I wouldn't send an email. Phone the school after the holiday and ask to speak to the head teacher or make an appointment to see him.

Always best to let the emotions settle before any communication I find.

Your DS will probably forget about it and I would dismiss it as a 'silly story'.

I would share your disquiet though.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 11:32:02

My dc, at the same age as yours wouldn't have even remembered half the story.

Check the story first sounds a bit OTT but if it upset the DC worth checking out.

But YABU to contact the school out of term time. How would YOU like your holidays interrupted even if you were just catching up on paperwork. ?!

Cookethenook Fri 29-Mar-13 11:36:02

He's 7. He said 'Vicar told us this story in assembly yesterday' and then told us the story in great detail. His comprehension is very good and I have no reason to believe he would make it up. If that's not what happened, I'm prepared for ht to tell me otherwise!

We told him to put it to the back of his mind. I personally don't think scaring children into doing the right thing is a laughing matter tbh and if she did have a good laugh about it, I'd be very concerned about her moral compass.

5inabed Fri 29-Mar-13 11:37:22

Are you guys kidding? If my kids were told this story I would be furious. My children are p1 and p3 and they would be very upset by this. I can't believe the rest of you think the op is bu. I think that story is completely inappropriate and can't see the point if telling it to small children. Yanbu and I would complain too.

LoopaDaLoopa Fri 29-Mar-13 11:38:53

I'm a teacher, and have wasted spent the first morning of my holidays dealing with a parental complaint, which turned out to be a complete storm in a teacup.
I'd complain too, OP. I would cut down a lot of what you have written so far and keep it to the facts. Who gave the assembly? Was the head there?

LoopaDaLoopa Fri 29-Mar-13 11:40:27

Ah, the vicar gave the story? Doubt the head will have the balls to approach the vicar on this, unfortunately. I'd send a copy to both the head and the vicar, addressed to the latter and CCd to the former.

MissAnnersley Fri 29-Mar-13 11:40:40

I agree with you 5inabed. I would very concerned myself. However I don't think a lengthy email is the way forward.

Keep your powder dry OP and contact the school after the holidays.

Meerkatwhiskers Fri 29-Mar-13 11:41:13

I'm an atheist and I'd be doing the same thing as you. Its not too much at all. Its even worse as you moved him from a CofE school. The sooner education becomes secular the better in my opinion! One thing France has right!

Fairyegg Fri 29-Mar-13 11:42:03

I think it would give the head teacher a laugh as in your own words it so 'arsey'. Seriously, leave it til after the holidays then go in and discuss your concerns. To be honest kids hear a lot worse stories in the play ground, on the news etc, it was just a story designed to make them think.

QuintEggSensuality Fri 29-Mar-13 11:42:22

I would complain. I am a Christian. This was not appropriate at all.

But I would leave out the last paragraph and focus on the trauma caused and that the story undermines a child belief that his parents/carers could be relied upon to save him. It teaches young children that they as individuals dont matter, and that God will be happy to sacrifice them for the greater good. Which is a ludicrous thing to teach a child.

ToffeeWhirl Fri 29-Mar-13 11:42:44

I wouldn't send that email. Too long for a start. I agree with others that you need to let the emotions settle first, then review it. If you are going to send an email, stick to the key points. However, I think it might be better if you go in and express your feelings to the headteacher face to face next term instead.

I agree that it was a stupid story to tell to young children.

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 29-Mar-13 11:42:50

It's not a 'moral story' though, it is the Easter story, and as I imagine it was done as the children are now off for Easter it seems perfectly reasonable? How would you explain the crucifixion to children?

quietlysuggests Fri 29-Mar-13 11:43:09

You have already moved your child and are now about to send this email.
You may be right, you probably are, and you are within your rights.
But you are marking yourself out as an odd-ball, and you son will be laughed at in the staff room and any teacher will roll their eyes at the mention of your family.
Just how it is.
Maybe you dont mind standing out and being known for being odd/ difficult, but if you do mind, then do not send the email.

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 11:43:55

I think the e mail is too long and detailed, though I agree with you Op.
That sort of moral dilemma, whether God is involved or not, is hard enough for grown adults, much less small children.

aftermay Fri 29-Mar-13 11:44:25

But what exactly did you expect them to be taught in a religious assembly? The poor vicar thought he'd make it all funky and up-to-date with trains and bridges. He should have kept to shepherds and donkeys. It's religion, it's bonkers. Pull him out If you feel so strongly.

QuintEggSensuality Fri 29-Mar-13 11:45:18

Not by substituting divine characters for real little children and real parents in an every day situation for sure! Most priests know that there is a careful line when bringing every day situations in to exemplify the scriptures. You dont turn it into a horror story that makes children feel unsafe

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 29-Mar-13 11:46:51

He wasn't telling a moral story! He was telling the Easter story in a way he thought children would understand. I mean, the original would probably be even more upsetting! 'his son was nailed to a cross, left there for days, and all the local people came and laughed at his son while he died', that's a real bundle of laughs!

HesterShaw Fri 29-Mar-13 11:47:51

If it's the vicar who told it, you should complain to the vicar. I doubt the vicar ran by the exact details of the assembly s/he was about to give with the head beforehand. You should word the email differently imo, and focus on why a vicar is coming in to do assemblies if it's not a church school. But wait until after the holidays.

LoopaDaLoopa Fri 29-Mar-13 11:47:55

Dear xxx

I'm afraid I have to register my concern regarding an issue that occurred (on date).

DS came home from school upset, and told us of the story told in assembly, which detailed a parent having to choose between his child's life and the lives of a number or train passengers.

I am deeply concerned that this is not a suitable topics for KS1 children. DS is not mature enough to process this type of moral dilemma, and is quite upset and confused. He is worried that we would not save him in a similar situation.

I am unable to see the educational value of this sort of teaching to such young children, and as such, I would like to request that we are warned in advance if similar sessions are to take place again, as we will withdraw DS from assembly.

Best wishes etc...

Fairyegg Fri 29-Mar-13 11:49:51

That's what my 6 year old son was taught scarlettsmummy he came home describing the whole scene, blood and nails and everything and then drew me a lovely picture about it! I don't mind, it's just a story and he's 6 not 3 and we can discuss it together at home.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 11:50:46

I would be outraged.

But I would wait til next term ant talk to the HT face to face. Or I would send a very brief email expressing your concern and asking for more information. I would never go into a school all guns blazing without being in possession of all the facts.

zwischenzug Fri 29-Mar-13 11:51:22

Have I understood this right? Even non-religious schools are made to have a 'collective act of worship'? I really fucking hope I've misunderstood that.

Angelico Fri 29-Mar-13 11:51:35

I think that story was inappropriate for young children. I understand what they were trying to do but I would be furious that they had chosen that example of how to update it. I would much rather DD heard a story about Jesus being crucified which she is then able to accept or reject, rather than thinking some omniscient being would expect me or her dad to sacrifice her for the good of strangers.

I wouldn't email though. Send a toned down version by letter. I'd also leave out all the CoE stuff which the Head won't give a shit about.

Angelico Fri 29-Mar-13 11:54:12

'Collective act of worship' is a broad term. Most non-religious schools tend to focus on ethics rather than religion (and it's usually for 2 mins between telling them off about behaviour in the loos and reading out the hockey results!). The problems tend to arise when outside groups come in, be it trendy vicar or young over-the-top evangelists.

aftermay Fri 29-Mar-13 11:56:00

Pop over to the thread about teachers before you go in all guns blazing. A complaint will stick around for ever. It will take hours of meetings and stress and planning and reevaluation and all sorts of shit. What exactly will you gain? Let the vicar do his vicar job. Let the teachers do their jobs. You stick to being your DS's mum and telling him it's all silly and hell get over it. FFS. Talk about a mountain out of a molehill.

RenterNomad Fri 29-Mar-13 11:58:06

An audience of children would be bound to take the wrong end of such a story. This is not a story for children and can't teach them anything. It could only, and only possibly, work on adults. *There is no dilemma, no choice, for children, in such a story.

If this was the story, the vicar is either dumb or cruel.

zwischenzug Fri 29-Mar-13 11:59:01

Ok fair enough, the as long as no actual 'worship' is involved, that's not too bad. But they really should change the wording in the curriculum.

OP your email sounds fine to me, although it is a bit waffley, if you could make it more concise about the specific things you object to it might be more effective.

LittleBairn Fri 29-Mar-13 11:59:39

I am a Christian I personally would have an issue with someone giving my child this sort of dilemma they are to young at that age to understand the complex emotional and moral aspect of the story. Plus how does he know that God would be pleased with its not for the teacher to impose his version of God onto the Children that should be for the children to work out themselves.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 12:03:13

"Have I understood this right? Even non-religious schools are made to have a 'collective act of worship'? I really fucking hope I've misunderstood that."

No you haven't- although there are plenty who will tell you it's no big deal. Under the 1988(I think) Education Act, all state primary schools are required to have a daily act of collective worship, "broadly Christian in nature"

Oh, and while your blood is boiling, RE is compulsory to GCSE.

quoteunquote Fri 29-Mar-13 12:06:57

OP send the email, that is totally disgusting behaviour, lying to children, is abusive.

I would contact ofsted, who ever thought it a good idea to do this to children should not be allowed any where near them again.

Saski Fri 29-Mar-13 12:08:25

Most people won't read such a wordy email with sufficient care to really understand the point of it. I like the far briefer version noted above.

That is a bonkers story.

zwischenzug Fri 29-Mar-13 12:09:10

Let the vicar do his vicar job.

If it's not a religious school, the vicar should certainly not be allowed to do his 'vicar job' anywhere inside the grounds anyway. Especially when he is likely to see his job as spreading the word of whichever particular invisible man in the sky he believes in.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 12:10:11

outraged ?? Seriously seeker?

Every day at school our children are told all sorts of different things. Some good, some bad. Sometimes I just tell mine to ignore it or forget it. Unless you take alot of stuff with a pinch of salt, I am not sure school is right for your children.

If one takes on board everything a child is told at school, one would be forever emailing. And it was the vicar, not the school who told the story so if you need to take issue with it, take it up with him.

Floggingmolly Fri 29-Mar-13 12:10:19

Get over yourself.

aftermay Fri 29-Mar-13 12:10:53

Ask the vicar to do a lesson plan that you can go through with a fine tooth comb in advance. He needs to explain exactly what the educational objectives are and how he will differentiate it for those more sensitive souls who will be troubled by it because their parents make it into a big deal.

Do everyone a favour and be grown up about it. If you can't deal with this without running for a complaint then words fail me.

yaimee Fri 29-Mar-13 12:11:27

I'd be angry if my child were told this story at such a young age. Presumably there were also younger children present too, if it was a ks1 assembly. I think that making an appointment ir sensing the email after Easter would be best, so that you can have a bit more of a think about what you want to say.
If your aim us to have the school rethink the content of their assemblies, then a rant won't help with that, so cool down and work on the email over Easter.

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 12:11:48

I never had a problem with RE being taught in schools, as long as it encompassed all religion.
Otherwise how can children make their own decisions about faith?
Ds is 17 and is an athiest like me, but he was educated enough to make that choice.
I'd question it Op, but after the holidays, and use Loopas suggestion, it gets the point across and is more concise.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 12:16:58

Who has an issue with RE being taught in schools?

Look, there were lots of people agreeing with a poster yesterday that Matilda was too scary for young children. But this sort of stuff is OK?

How come people are happy with Christians pushing their agenda to small children- I bet the would be lots of crossness if the local Labour party came and tried to persuade all the children to join!

stifnstav Fri 29-Mar-13 12:17:48

I think the part about the child being stuck in machinery is prtty etty fucking horrendous. Then how exactly did the child die to save the train in the vicar's story?

Its not appropriate at all. Some of those children won't have the type of parents who will minimise stories like that and will be terrified.

zwischenzug Fri 29-Mar-13 12:19:44

Oh, and while your blood is boiling, RE is compulsory to GCSE.

Fortunately my daughter is 10 years away from GCSE. I live in hope that the education system will become more enlightened in that time.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 12:20:37

It's just awful. I can't believe people are all right with it. Lots of children would have just internalized it, so parents wouldn't have had the opportunity to downplay it.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 12:26:37

Lots of children will have lost interest after the first 2 minutes and be fidgeting and messing about waiting for play time.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 12:27:52

But lots won't have.

Bloody hell, the Professionally Unoffended are out in force today!

Flojobunny Fri 29-Mar-13 12:29:49

I would be furious too. But my DS is very sensitive to stuff like this. Not sure if I am more concerned by the religious nonsense at Easter or the unsuitability of story about trains.
I would complain. To the vicar. And copy in the head teacher.

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 12:30:37

I totally agree with you on the particular scenario Op brought up Seeker.
And to all that think it's harmless, as adults what would you do?
Save the train passengers or your child?
I'd do the latter BTW, without question, and my 'child' is 17.
I wonder what the vicar would do.
It's too much for young children to even have to think about.

zwischenzug Fri 29-Mar-13 12:31:56

Not sure complaining to the vicar would do any good, in his mind he is doing what God would want (ie pushing religion), the concerns of any mere mortal aren't going to trump that.

Cookethenook Fri 29-Mar-13 12:37:08

I can deal with my DS. He'll be fine and we've discussed it. If he had been told this story by another child in the playground, I wouldn't be happy, but I wouldn't consider complaining. The fact that it was an adult trying to prove a point about God, I don't think that's acceptable.

aftermay I have to say, I'm quite shocked that you think I shouldn't complain because it'll be a hassle for the teachers. Yes, it might be, but honestly believe that this is an issue that needs to be looked into. I'm a childminder and as such, come under the jurisdiction of Ofsted and EYFS. If I received a complaint of a similar nature from one of my parents, I would take it very seriously and make sure it was fully investigated- like it or not, it's part of my job. And I don't want to 'gain' anything, I want the ht and vicar to know that the story was disturbing and inappropriate for such young children and to consider the age appropriateness of the assemblies more carefully in the future.

DS didn't go into detail on that bit, but I got the sense that he was crushed. Apparently the machinery lowered the bridge to let the train across.. Grim.

MiaowTheCat Fri 29-Mar-13 12:37:18

I'd ditch the opening "good holiday" stuff - when you're about to launch into a full blown rant it sounds almost like you're taunting the recipient.

I also probably would wait till after the holidays to deal with it - more than anything else it's going to get lost in the barrage of post-holiday email backlog if you send it now.

KurriKurri Fri 29-Mar-13 12:43:44

My DS was told a similar story by a Vicar in a school assembly when he was about 8ish. (Not the same story, but the same dilemma) luckily I was at the assembly, it was a mad story and totally inappropriate and I told DS this. Vicars aren't teachers so they don't always get it right regarding pitching things at the right level. And teachers don't always know what the vicar guest is going to come out with IME.

If your DS's school is a non faith school, then I wouldn't be very happy at God being brought into any stories, it is not acceptable. But if it is CofE, and you are not, then you either have to accept the God stuff and tell your DS to ignore it, or withdraw him from assemblies.

I would certainly mention to the school that you found it inappropriate, - maybe lots of other parents did too, and schools need to know that kind of things.

But - having said that, I think your e-mail sounds exactly what it is, something written when you are feeling outraged and annoyed, - that's the e-mail you write to get it off your chest, but don't send.
It is too wordy, and strays off the point, and won't get you any kind of result because it will be dismissed as a rant. So calm down, wait a day or two, and then compose something very calm and sensible (and most of all short and to the point) about your concern over the story.

Good luck. smile

KurriKurri Fri 29-Mar-13 12:45:04

Oh - meant to add, I would personally always deal with something like this by talking to the school rather than by e-mail (at least initially, you can always move on to more formal communication if you aren't happy with the outcome of a discussion)

isitsnowingyet Fri 29-Mar-13 12:51:04

SEND THE offending E-MAIL! Why does everyone have to be so British on here by not making their feelings known? The OP is upset about the assembly, and what is wrong with letting the head teacher and the vicar know? Her son is sensitive and intelligent, and just because he's 7 doesn't necessarily mean he will forget about it next week.

It's not a good solution pulling him out of every assembly because of one talk. What about the other children? Does everyone assume it doesn't matter 'because they're just kids'??

aftermay Fri 29-Mar-13 12:53:13

If you're a childminder then you should have more sense than rant in writing as your first way of addressing a non-issue. If a parent complained to Ofsted about you I don't think you would be horrified and going all introspective. You'd be ranting about the unreasonable parent who did not think it appropriate to talk to you first. It's not complaint material. Have you got no one IRL to talk things through?

aftermay Fri 29-Mar-13 12:56:17

I'm not wasting any more time on this thread. Can I say again. I'm an atheist but this is just being a drama queen, OP. let it go. The more you write on here the more professionally offended people will come to tell you how to interfere in your child's school. Keep out of it.

nkf Fri 29-Mar-13 12:56:43

It's the holidays. Chill.

wwydmoney1 Fri 29-Mar-13 12:59:33

I would be fucking fuming.

In fact I am fuming as an atheist who's children are supposed to be removed from assembly when the vicar does his weekly round at our non religious school but the school frequently 'forget' and send them anyway. Last week DD actually told the teacher that DS was in assembly and wasnt supposed to be and was told it was none of her business angry

wwydmoney1 Fri 29-Mar-13 13:00:48

When questioned I was told that the sub had sent him by mistake and that DS didn't seem to mind. Kind of beyond the point ?!

thezebrawearspurple Fri 29-Mar-13 13:01:20

I don't think it's an appropriate story for young children, I also think the message is wrong, no loving parent would let their child die to save a bunch of strangers and to teach that as the moral thing to do is horrible and offensive. yanbu.

KurriKurri Fri 29-Mar-13 13:01:49

isitsonwingyet - It's not about being 'British' hmm it';s about getting the most satisfactory result. That e-mail will not do it, it is unclear and ranty - I lost interest in it, and I'm on the OP's side and share her views.
If you just want to get things off your chest, fire off ranty diatribes, if you want things to change, be calm and sensible.

Mad ranty stuff makes the recipient
a) feel annoyed
b) laugh
c) throw it in the bin marked 'nut jobs'

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:02:12

As a professionally unoffended person, why don't you just say to your DS that some people believe in God, and this story is for those who believe in God. And when you grow up you can find out more about it and make a decision for yourself. Explain what a vicar is. Then explain that lots of people don't believe in the same things. And that this is what he believes in.etc.

No harm done. He will have a little bit of understanding of what a Vicar does, without all the offence and ear covering?

We all grew up wtih bible stories etc. It wasn't until we were older that we came to our own decisions on this. No need to go ranting to all and sundry.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:02:46

Sorry that is me as the 'professionally unoffended' not the OP grin

theskyonasnowynight Fri 29-Mar-13 13:03:01

zwischenzug, there is nothing wrong or unenlightened about RE being compulsory to GCSE. It is EDUCATION not INSTRUCTION nowadays. In the 3 or 4 years leading up to the GCSE we studied Christianity, New Testament textual analysis (actually very interesting), Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, philosophy of religion, philosophy of ethics and philosophy of language, humanism. I gained a huge level of respect for people of all faiths and none and learned how to think in a way you don't in any other subject.

mum382013 Fri 29-Mar-13 13:03:21

I would complain too. my child would be upset by this.

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:03:33

I would have a word, in person with the vicar. I would ask to discuss it in confidence and say your son was upset and you thought he would like to know so he can tone it down another time.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 13:03:54

Yep. As I said earlier, either wait to talk to the school face to face, or send a brief email asking for clarification, green ink stuff never gets you anywhere. But don't ignore it, despite the ranting of the Professionally Unoffended.

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Fri 29-Mar-13 13:04:33

YABU with your opening sentence because you are presuming that the HT is reading and dealing with work email in his holiday. smile

JakeBullet Fri 29-Mar-13 13:04:43

Are you absolutely CERTAIN that this is what happened? I speak as the parent of a child in a Catholic school and he has never been taught anything like this.

I agree it needs raising to see if the Head knows anything about it. FWIW the Head in our school would be horrified by anything like this being shared with children who are taught to care for each other because its the right thing to do and NOT because of any God.

Definitely raise it but the email is too over the top, unless you want him to add you to his "over precious parents" list.

MoominmammasHandbag Fri 29-Mar-13 13:07:07

It's not even a modern retelling of the Easter story though is it? Jesus had the choice whether to die for humanity or not. And although he was God's son he wasn't a little kid.
And the vicar seems to be missing the major point that Jesus rose again.

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:07:23

There is a huge difference in believing in God, and interpreting it the way the Vicar did in the OP Arseache.
That comes under the heading 'moral dilemmas' IMO, I've seen that sort of thing discussed by adults, but it certainly isn't appropriate for 7 year old kids.

MoominmammasHandbag Fri 29-Mar-13 13:08:08

And yes, I too would be complaining OP.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 13:08:53

"We all grew up wtih bible stories etc. It wasn't until we were older that we came to our own decisions on this. No need to go ranting to all and sundry."

What, that well known Bible story, the Parable of the Cantilever Bridge? Or is it from the Old Testament- Isaac gets caught in the machinery and Abraham is asked to sacrifice him.........

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:08:55

Seeker it is the Professionally Offended who are ranting. smile

Some on here are forcing their own views upon their children in the same way. Atheists are saying they refuse to let their dc attend assembly and are offended when they do.

Why not let them be free to pick up snippets of all beliefs and make their own decisions when they are older? Never killed us.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:10:47

Fancy letting such a thing eat away at you. Makes I laugh grin

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 13:11:38

but you isn't 7.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:13:33

no, but I do believe the OP maybe.

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:14:39

My DH also wondered if it was a modern retelling of Abraham and Isaac.

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:15:18

So what would you do ArseAche?

unebagpipe Fri 29-Mar-13 13:15:24

Haven't read all the other posts but think that your original email was fine and I would complain too. Children don't need these scenarios in their heads.

KurriKurri Fri 29-Mar-13 13:15:47

Arseache - there is picking up snippets of all beliefs, and there is being forced to sit and listen to mad shit. First is fine, second not so much.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:16:12

What do I do about what?

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 13:16:22

Always trust an atheist to know their bible!

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:17:41

Me too seeker smile

It's not even a meaningful retelling. God wasn't saving a bunch of strangers, but all His other children.

Choosing to crush your PFB in machinery to prevent your other children from plummeting into a gorge is admittedly a bit Sophie's Choice but more comparable.

I think pitching it as "feedback" rather than a complaint might be better received. Even if DS did misinterpret or misremember the story itself, what he took away was disturbing and upsetting and could/should have been better managed.

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:24:48

What would you choose ArseAche, the train passengers or your child?

ConferencePear Fri 29-Mar-13 13:25:49

This is a philosophical problem posed by Michael Sandel in his role as 'public philosopher'. I can't remember if I heard it on radio or saw it on television. He was using with much older learners and made no religious point out of it.

I agree it's a bit strong for such very young children and I can see no harm in you writing in that vein to the head although he probably didn't know the detail of what the vicar was going to do. This is what happens when you let untrained people loose on kids.

isitsnowingyet Fri 29-Mar-13 13:25:52

kurrikurri I guess you're right. ie it is better not to rant, but to be more reasonable in tone, and that would be more productive. It's just that I get cross when people are reluctant to ever complain and to try and change how things are done in schools.

Inertia Fri 29-Mar-13 13:25:54

I would complain. Even if you allow for the fact that schools are forced to include acts of Christian worship, that's a wholly inappropriate story.

PenguinBear Fri 29-Mar-13 13:27:45

I'm a teacher and would complain, that's a dreadful story to tell 7 year olds! I wouldn't dare tell anything like that for anyone under 13!

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:30:37

LadyBea - I would choose my child. I would also explain to my 7 year old that I would be choosing them. I am sure that would be the end of the conversation as far as my dc were concerned. That would be all they would want to know at 7.

zwischenzug Fri 29-Mar-13 13:33:07

there is nothing wrong or unenlightened about RE being compulsory to GCSE. It is EDUCATION not INSTRUCTION nowadays.

RE being taught is one thing, being made compulsory for GSCE when some subjects drastically more valuable such as foreign languages are optional is something else. By all means teach children about cultural superstitions up to year 9, but when the serious stuff starts RE needs to be treated like the personal hobby subject that it is.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 13:37:06

rE is a demanding and interesting GCSE, and should be an option. But it being compulsory when history or a MFL isn't is outrageous.

just to clarify- the exam isn't compulsory- studying the subject is.

EuphemiaLennox Fri 29-Mar-13 13:37:32

It's a pretty horrible story to tell kids.

But I wouldn't complain.

I'd just deal with it myself at home to reassure my child and balance the story.

All this complaining doesn't actually help your child you know although thats why we tell ourselves we're doing it. Its actually about demonstrating how right you are and how wrong they are.

It's about ego.
And that's how that letter comes across.

Don't take everything quite so seriously. That will help your child.

Chill man. (Want to do smiley face but can't find right brackets on new phone emotion)

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:38:39

Funnily enough RE is not compulsory at my dc school. History and Geog GCSE are.

sweetiepie1979 Fri 29-Mar-13 13:41:05

Your email is over the top and could be laughed at. I think your over reacting it's a story explain it from your point of view and close the matter. If it continues to bother you go in and have an informal chat with head about your concern. Please don't send the email the whole thing lose credence with the way you have worded it, sorry.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:42:43

And Don't say 'EASTER' in your opening sentence. Maybe 'spring break' or somesuch? wink

thegreylady Fri 29-Mar-13 13:45:47

My husband,a devout Roman Catholic was absolutely appalled that children should be told such a story.He says that in simplest terms it is in no way a straightforward moral choice even as an abstract.
The immediate thing anyone would do is free the child[any child] that is human nature so it is a false premise anyway.
We think you should send the email.We have grandchildren aged 4,6,9,10,13.13 and 16 and would only feel comfortable with the three older ones being offered the story to discuss-with no outcome but not as a 'this was the right thing to do ' story.
Dh's final comment was,"bloody weird vicar!"

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 13:49:38

As a modern retelling of the crucifixion the story has flaws, as a morality tale it's terrible. My DS would be upset, I would complain.

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:52:20

Why is it better for 50 people (say) in the train to be saved than one child to die, in agony?

I don't think I agree with the 'moral'.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 29-Mar-13 13:53:28

I hadnt spotted that this was the Easter story. It came across as a moral dilemma which IMO is totally inappropriate for a KS1 assembly.

The HT is responsible for what goes on in his school. Allowing anyone to behave inappropriately (which includes telling inappropriate stories to small children) in assembly is a mistake by the HT.

I think that LoopaDaLoopa's suggested email was spot on:

Dear xxx

I'm afraid I have to register my concern regarding an issue that occurred (on date).

DS came home from school upset, and told us of the story told in assembly, which detailed a parent having to choose between his child's life and the lives of a number or train passengers.

I am deeply concerned that this is not a suitable topics for KS1 children. DS is not mature enough to process this type of moral dilemma, and is quite upset and confused. He is worried that we would not save him in a similar situation.

I am unable to see the educational value of this sort of teaching to such young children, and as such, I would like to request that we are warned in advance if similar sessions are to take place again, as we will withdraw DS from assembly.

Best wishes etc...

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 13:54:33

I think, welovegrapes, that the vicar was trying to get the message across that God sacrificed his son to a painful death to save everyone else. Missed out the part where his son was raised from the dead three days later mind you...

scarletsalt Fri 29-Mar-13 13:54:37

I am usually very much of the 'chill out' persuasion, but as a teacher and a sort of catholic, I think that story is totally inappropriate. Why the need for such an analogy to the Easter story (although it is not even a very clear analogy, so god knows what a ks1 child would make of it).

I had a catholic primary education (which wasnt all fire and brimstone despite what some on here think hmm ) and was taken to mass every Sunday etc. At no point was I ever told a story like this. We were just told that Jesus died for us, he rose again and that was it really. Something like the Easter story is just too abstract to even begin to relate to a real life story for a child. And there is no need - Jesus was 'special' anyway, so the same situation just is not going to occur for your every day bridge maintenance man.

And yes, I can imagine that some children would then question if their own parent would let them die if such a situation were to occur. If I was sat in a school assembly (Catholic or not) and this story was told I would be shock .

However, I do think that your email is a bit too waffley and off the point, and also if you send it now then it is One More Thing that the head will know he has to deal with after Easter. I would just ring and make an appointment to see the head after the holidays and just tell him that you thought it was an inapporpriate story to tell to a bunch of under 7s.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 13:55:28

Bruthas - As far as we have heard he missed the final part about rising from the dead. We have a 7 year olds version....

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 13:56:56

Well that's also true but I'm not sure how in the train version the child could be resurrected. Still worth querying I think.

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:57:45

But Jesus was an adult and knew he was the son of God. He knew he was going to die.

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 13:58:28

Bruthas - maybe child slightly crushed, heart stops beating. Crash team turns up, resuss and he is mended in hospital.

iheartdusty Fri 29-Mar-13 14:07:10

it's a classic moral dilemma- DS (yr 3) discussed it at school but the premise was different.

he was asked - train is approaching a set of points - on the train's current route there are 3 people tied to the track - if you switch the points there is 1 person tied to the other track. Do you act or do nothing? is it 'better' that 1 person is killed than 3 people?

He and his class did not find that too traumatic to discuss.

but if the story had involved the parents refusing to save their child I think he and probably the whole class would have been overwhelmed and confused, and I know that DS would have become very, very anxious.

piprabbit Fri 29-Mar-13 14:07:13

OK, I get the idea that the vicar was retelling the Easter story of God sacrificing his only son to save us all.
But there is a crucial part of the story missing from the OP has said, and it is the really, really important part of the story (if that is what you believe). It is the fact that Jesus was resurrected and went to sit with his father in heaven. It is the resurrection which brings joy and hope, without the resurrection it is just a sad and disturbing story which is not appropriate for KS1 children.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 14:12:48

Pip - we do not know if the vicar missed the end of the story. We are going by what a 7 year old has told his parents? I doubt the vicar would have finished it at the dead boy point tbh

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 14:12:50

Going a bit off track here, I only know the Scottish Educational system, and understand the child is 7.
But what is KS1?

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 14:16:45

If the child did make a miraculous recovery then that changes the story. However I'm genuinely not sure why the vicar couldn't just have told the Easter story as it is, modern retelling is not necessary to convey the meaning of the story.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 14:17:07

kS ! is up to end of year 2 (7years old) if I remember correctly?

piprabbit Fri 29-Mar-13 14:18:00

Maybe the vicar didn't miss that bit of the story - but maybe he failed to fully communicate what on earth he was banging on about to a group of confused primary school children. Which might be why the 7yo missed the punchline.

ArseAche Fri 29-Mar-13 14:18:31

KS1 not !

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 14:19:46

KS1 - Key stage one. In Northern Ireland that's Primary 1 to Primary 4, so age 4/5 to age 7/8

Ionasky Fri 29-Mar-13 14:19:53

I think you should complain in person to the headteacher after the holidays fwiw. You can talk to DS about it, might trigger useful discussions - there will be other clashes over time with the school and you want to make sure you don't come across as someone that tends to get ignored due to over-reacting. Even sending a letter rather than having a quiet word could be misinterpreted.

FossilMum Fri 29-Mar-13 14:27:19

I would be very angry too. This could be extremely upsetting to some children, without being of value to any.

They are too young to take on the supposed point of this story (collective good versus the individual), and the example of choosing random other people's lives over the life of one's own child would be particularly distressing to a child.

The argument made by several people here, that it doesn't matter because their child wouldn't have paid attention/understood, is spurious. Many children, such as the OP's, would pay attention and understand. If the children aren't expected to understand it, there's no point telling the stupid story in the first place.

Also agree with the poster who pointed out that the moral dilemma is essentially an adult one, not a child's. From a child's point of view, of course the parent should save their child. If you can't rely on your parents, who can you rely on?

And I also personally think God and religion should stay out of our schools. Morals should be there, but it is possible to discuss morals and appropriate behaviour without bringing God into it.

CSIJanner Fri 29-Mar-13 14:27:26

My LO had a parents morning at preschool and they were god the story of a man, a beloved son and beloved dog. Dog protected son from pack of wolves but covered the bedroom with blood, so dad killed the beloved dog in rage on nis return. Then discovered his son was fine.

LO was not impressed. Threatened to call the police and RSPCA

FossilMum Fri 29-Mar-13 14:28:31

Having said that, OP, suggest you wait to the end of the holidays to reconsider exactly what you want to say in your message/in a meeting with the HT/vicar. If going for an e-mail/letter, suggest much shorter. Best not to send it off in the heat of the moment.

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 14:30:49

Csi you probably know that is a modern retelling of the myth of the brave dog Gelert.

Bit much for preschool hmm

hopefloats Fri 29-Mar-13 16:05:02

Lots of details for a 7 year old to recall. I remember DS coming home with a story about a horse in the field next to the school, which they watched eat a dead mouse, then the farmer came along with a gun, waved it about, and told the kids to sod off. After confronting the HT, it transpired the only true part was the horse in the field. I think if you send that email, during the holidays, the HT will put you in the bonkers pile for evermore.

CSIJanner Fri 29-Mar-13 16:14:52

Welove - that was the dogs name! You're right.

On both counts sad

Witchesbrewandbiscuits Fri 29-Mar-13 16:17:50

i would just send an email asking if he can call you at his earliest convenience. things like this are often misunderstood in type. much better to have a two way conversation, in which both sides can be understood. fwiw my ds is in a religious school, and we are religious, and this is what we wanted but i have to admit i find it very intense sometimes. statements such as i want to go live with jesus etc alarm me. i think you are right to question whats happened.

GrendelsMum Fri 29-Mar-13 16:30:50

I'd agree with the advice to put your mail to one side over the Easter holidays, and then send a more succinct version to the headteacher, outlining more clearly what you felt the problem was (inappropriate for KS1, as your DS recounted it to you) and what you'd like him to do about it (get the vicar to run things through with him first, or whatever).

I would also agree that sometimes children have very vivid imaginations about what happens at school, and get the wrong end of the stick.

FairPhyllis Fri 29-Mar-13 16:41:43

As a Christian I am a bit hmm about the story, as it's a very poor analogy for the Easter story. However if a child was worried I would just say it was a silly story. I wouldn't say anything to the head - but if it had happened to me I would probably know the vicar personally well enough to mention quietly that the story wasn't appropriate.

People are right that your email comes across as being all about your ego and self-righteousness.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 29-Mar-13 17:44:59

Why is there so much pussy-footing around the fact some bloke turned up at the school and told young primary school children a highly inappropriate story?

The HT allowed this to happen. He should be told that this is not on.

HollaAtMeBaby Fri 29-Mar-13 17:57:34

This is a common thought-experiment in moral philosophy but I don't see why this particularly grisly version was considered suitable for such young children.

HollaAtMeBaby Fri 29-Mar-13 17:58:40

Oops, just RTFT and realised for the first time in my life that this could be an analogy for the Easter story blush - I am a HEATHEN!

aftermay Fri 29-Mar-13 17:58:58

Because of course a 7 year old's version of events, with the backing of busybody overconcerned MNers trumps the judgement of an experienced professional. The HT has no idea what's going on and should be cowered into changing things to appease someone's mum. Or else Ofstec and the rest. Proportion, peeps.

PMSL at " parable of the cantilever bridge" grin

Kiriwawa Fri 29-Mar-13 18:13:53

I have a real fucking issue with 'that man' (as DS calls him) turning up at school at all. I live in a very small town with no synagogue and no mosque so DS is fed an unremitting diet of Christianity as far as I can tell.

I would also be very cross about this OP although I think the later reworking of your email was better. I think it's entirely inappropriate for children of primary school age

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 18:19:32

I remember that story to this day CSI and Welove, I got taught it at school and it still makes me sad.
In my version it was an old Welsh story I think, I'm sure the man was a Llewellan (sp sorry Welsh people).

BoyMeetsWorld Fri 29-Mar-13 18:25:19

I'm really surprised at responses on here. I don't think the OPs post is overly arsey at all and I'd be completely livid if my son was told that.

It's an assembly which actually seems to undermine the parent and the love of the parent for their child - and nobody has the right to cause a child to doubt or question that. Also the inference is that the child was essentially sacrificed to save 'more' of Gods' people....why would anybody even consider telling small children that? That essentially one of them is not worth multiple others.

This has made me very sad, as has the fact that others seem to think its totally acceptable.

aroomofherown Fri 29-Mar-13 18:27:41

It's a commonly used Christian analogy - I've heard it a lot in my younger days. I completely agree with you - it's way way too much for KS1 though. I wouldn't expect it to be told to anyone under 16 (I used to be very religious and I now work in a secondary school, I should be sympathetic to the assembly).

Your email sounds a little unhinged though - sorry. Just call the Head up and say you felt it was a little too intense for a KS1 audience and explain how your DS read it. Or send a more succinct email.

stressyBessy22 Fri 29-Mar-13 19:20:24

some bloke turned up at the school and told young primary school children a highly inappropriate story?
'It is Easter! the vicar told the Easter story in a context the children could understand. The Easter story isn't supposed to be comfortable! Do you let your Dc stuff themselves silly with Easter eggs without even telling them the meaning of the Easter feast? That question applies equally to atheists
Have just told DD3 nearly 7 the bridge story and she was quite interested in the moral dilemma involved.

TheCollieDog Fri 29-Mar-13 20:11:20

It's a way of explaining the Christian Easter story. It's Easter. In that context, YABU. Unless of course, you don't do anything to mark Easter, such as Easter eggs?

ClayDavis Fri 29-Mar-13 20:15:16

But he didn't tell the Easter story in a context the children could understand. The OP's child didn't understand the context and he's almost far from the only one. You might well discuss it with a 7 year old on a 1:1 basis but its a massively inappropriate story to tell a large group of 4-7 year olds whose circumstances you don't know. There are many more age appropriate ways of getting the message of the Easter story across to children of this age group.

seeker Fri 29-Mar-13 20:17:42

So why not just tell the children the Easter story? As in "Easter is a very important festival for Christians- this is why"

ClayDavis Fri 29-Mar-13 20:28:25

Because that would be far too much like common sense, seeker. Tbh I wouldn't be at all surprised if the HT was already in agreement with the OP. Visiting speakers can be a law unto themselves (and not just the religious ones). It's possible the HT has already braced himself for a string of complaints and vowed never to invite that particular speaker in again.

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Fri 29-Mar-13 20:32:44

Yes, a charming way to introduce 7 year olds to Christianity.hmm.
Let them leave the lesson wondering if their parents would put strangers before themselves.
If they are educated through Christmas, special child, God's chosen one, who died to save us all on the cross, then teach them that. (not me BTW but the Christian teachings.
Don't give them stupid allegories which they'll take literally.

Abra1d Fri 29-Mar-13 20:34:12

I wouldn't send this email. They will laugh at you.

Lovecat Fri 29-Mar-13 20:49:28

IT IS NOT A VERSION OF THE EASTER STORY!! <bangs head against desk>

I went through many, many years of Catholic school/Church/Brownie Sunday School and never once had this story even as some sort of allegory!

This is NOTHING to do with the Crucifixion and Resurrection. It's not even bleedin' Abraham and Isaac!

As someone said a few pages back, it's one of those moral dilemma/philosophy problems.

And it's not suitable for 7 yr olds. I'd be steaming if this were related at DD's assembly and it's the sort of thing she'd worry about and dwell upon.

I'm also slightly hmm at aftermay's scornful dismissal of the OP's child's version of events and the characterisation of those of us who don't think this is a suitable "story" to tell to primary age children as 'busybodies'. Nice.

The later reworking of the email was much more to the point and I'd send that if it were me, OP. YANBU to want to raise this.

HesterShaw Fri 29-Mar-13 20:58:18

Little children don't understand allegories. They just don't.

Why the bloody vicar couldn't have told them the Easter Story properly I don't know. You don't have to talk about writhing on crosses and nails through wrists etc.

Though I am 37 and still don't understand why Jesus being crucified "saves me" from anything hmm

RenterNomad Fri 29-Mar-13 21:02:40

Ooops. Despite having had a relatively Establishment education and upbringing, I missed the possible Easter/Abraham anf Isaac parallel, but am not really ashamed because it's pretty bloody well disguised.

As I said, it can't be a dilemma for a child, only for an adult. And if it is the Easter story, God Himself was the father; there was no external authority reassuring Him that it was the right thing to do (so a private and thankless dilemma). A more appropriate parallel might be a father who allows his son to make a fool of himself and fail spectacularly in order to save others (a pity Hitler's pater couldn't have arranged this: that would be an excellent morality tale). Or the father of a dangerous/ antisocial drug addict, practising "tough love" and saving people from his son's crazy driving. Such fathers would also benefit from getting their sons "back home", safeand sound and chastened.

Still totally inappropriate for, and useless to, primary school children. Utter twat of a vicar.

ClayDavis Fri 29-Mar-13 21:04:31

It might normally be used as a moral dilemma but in this case I think it was used to illustrate the Easter story. The OP's son was told a story about sacrificing his son to save the life of others and being praised by God for it. At any other time of the year it might pass as a moral tale but in the week leading up to Easter it is almost certainly an allegorical tale about God sacrificing his own son to save others.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 29-Mar-13 21:07:18

StressyBessy22 we are a family of devout atheists & DCs are teenage. For us the easter break is a public holiday followed by a weekend followed by another public holiday with added chocolate. We all enjoy the break and we all enjoy the chocolate.

For me a vicar is just some bloke and in this case telling a highly inappropriate story.

VinegarDrinker Fri 29-Mar-13 21:16:57

Firmly on the OP'S side here.

FWIW I mentioned it to my Mum - who is a vicar and ex Early Years teacher (and does weekly assemblies) and she was horrified. She said unfortunately a lot of her fellow vicars have absolutely no idea about children and age-appropriateness.

I am also surprised a vicar was invited into a non religious school in the first place. Do they get other faith leaders in to tell confusing allegories at the times of other major festivals too?

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 21:20:12

That's really interesting, Vinegar. Does your mum think op should approach the vicar or ht?

stella1w Fri 29-Mar-13 21:21:58

It doesn't work as a retelling of the easter story. It is highly inappropriate. And it is stupid because parents are biologically programmed to save their kids. So there is no dilemma at all. If you are going to give kids a dilemma, give one they can relate to. Years ago a temp re teacher said, what would you do if you moved schools and the only person who would be friends with you would only do so if you stole. I wrote that i would steal some chocolate and the overpay the next time. The teacher was very worried about me.

VinegarDrinker Fri 29-Mar-13 21:33:15

grapes I'll ask her but will prob be tomorrow, now. From my POV it would depend on a) whether you even know who the vicar is b) how comfortable you are approaching him/her. I agree the HT has overall responsibility but it would be a bit difficult for him/her to wade in mid story!

Welovegrapes Fri 29-Mar-13 21:40:12

I agree with a) and b).

If I were op I think I would call vicar, be very tactful. Explain DS was scared and why.

Then I would chat to ht and explain what I had said to vicar and why.

baconbutty Fri 29-Mar-13 21:59:03

I am a teacher. I definitely don't think you are being unreasonable and am shocked by how many people think this is ok. Agree with previous post though, I would aim complaint to vicar with copy to head.

i'm with angelico on this. i think this story is totally inappropriate- i can understand what the vicar ws trying to get across but id much rather DD was told the crucifixion story.. at least she can then make up her own mind as to wether its true or not. i would complain, although i would be more inclined to discuss with ht over the phone. email is good in essentials but dont make it waffley. x

as an aside to that, i think that is a good thing that RE is compulsory. in most schools its not taught in a way that is shoved down DCs throats, so its up to them wether to believe it or not, but it does at least teach them to be tolerant and respectful of those that DO believe it, and why.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 29-Mar-13 22:23:21

Mickey, I am happy for my DCs to be taught to be tolerant and respectful of those who have faith so long as people of faith are taught to be tolerant and respectful of those who have no faith. Having faith does not make people special.

I would aim the complaint at the head as the head is responsible for what goes on in the school. It might make the head think about who he allows to speak at an assembly in future.

I agree it was an inappropriate story to tell children, though I have heard that many times in church services so my kids will have overheard it though probably weren't paying much attention grin It wouldn't surprise me if the vicar just didn't think about the age- appropriateness of the allegory. My sons go to a CofE school and when they go to the local church for a special service, the vicar comes out with some bonkers stuff. At Christmas, she made a massive deal out of the fact that Mary was not married to Joseph and kept going on and on about the social stigma, 'Can you imagine the shame..,?' etc etc. The children were just looking at her like this confused The parents were sitting there thinking she was crackers for really focussing on the wrong bit of the Christmas story!

Cathycat Fri 29-Mar-13 23:00:38

Not age appropriate at all. I am sure that the head teacher will agree with you, so yes I would email the vicar and cc the head or ask the head if he / she was aware that this story was told.

cumfy Sat 30-Mar-13 02:58:51

I can just see the DM headlines:

Vicar's Easter Message:
Murder Your Children


RenterNomad Sat 30-Mar-13 09:40:16

grin at cumfy's Easter Message

ToffeeWhirl Sat 30-Mar-13 10:17:25

Stressybessy - "Do you let your Dc stuff themselves silly with Easter eggs without even telling them the meaning of the Easter feast?"


seeker Sat 30-Mar-13 10:19:25

"Stressybessy - "Do you let your Dc stuff themselves silly with Easter eggs without even telling them the meaning of the Easter feast?"

I have no problem with my children knowing the meaning of the Easter feast- but as far as I know, there isn't either a bridge or a train involved..........

HesterShaw Sat 30-Mar-13 10:51:13

Since when was "stuffing themselves silly" a synonym for "eating"?

As far as I was aware chocolate eggs have nothing at all to do the Christian Easter story. They might be seen to have something to do with spring - chicks, eggs, new life etc. Nothing to do with a ressurection.

theroseofwait Sat 30-Mar-13 10:52:38

The thing that really annoys me about these threads, as a Christian and someone who has taught a lot of secondary RE in her time, is that the people frothing about their children being visited by a vicar are usually the first ones giving out the Christmas presents and chocolate eggs.

I wouldn't dream of celebrating Eid or Divali, although I would be an interested onlooker. As for the story, the first thing that came to mind when I read the OP was Abraham's test, did the vicar absolutely make no mention of the boy escaping? If you are not Christian and think it a silly story, then why not put your DS right, in your opinion and move on?

I had the reverse last week when my DS came home having obviously looked at the Easter story with an atheist. I corrected a small part of what he was telling me in terms of basic Christian belief, DS took it on board and that was the end of it.

seeker Sat 30-Mar-13 10:57:45

"I had the reverse last week when my DS came home having obviously looked at the Easter story with an atheist. I corrected a small part of what he was telling me in terms of basic Christian belief, DS took it on board and that was the end of it."

How do you know he looked at it with an atheist?

theroseofwait Sat 30-Mar-13 11:00:07

Seeker- because any Christian would know about ascension day.

HesterShaw Sat 30-Mar-13 11:00:55

Still no one has said what chocolate eggs have to do with the crucifixion and ressurection.

I will eat chocolate eggs at this time of year if I please, as will my family. They have nothing to do with christianity.

HesterShaw Sat 30-Mar-13 11:01:32

Jesus didn't eat chocolate eggs and nor did the apostles.

zwischenzug Sat 30-Mar-13 11:04:16

I will eat chocolate eggs at this time of year if I please, as will my family. They have nothing to do with christianity.

Neither does Christmas, a festival hijacked from other (pagan?) origins..

Moominsarehippos Sat 30-Mar-13 11:08:49

Weird choice of story! I would mention it if you really feel that your son was disturbed by it but I'd focus more on speaking to him about the story and how he feels about it. Poor kid! I'd have wet myself at his age!

MajaBiene Sat 30-Mar-13 11:16:01

Easter/eggs/rabbits/fertility/spring festivities have nothing to do with Jesus so it is perfectly possible for a non-Christian to celebrate enthusiastically. Ditto Yuletide grin

As for the story - incredibly inappropriate for KS1 children! A child getting caught in machinery and dying? Sounds like something from a horror story.

I would keep the letter brief and focus on
- the horrific and inappropriate content of the story
- the "moral dilemma" being beyond very young children's understanding and the idea that a parent wouldn't rescue them being very upsetting
- "God" being presented as a fact rather than a belief

More appropriate would have been a sanitised version of the Christian Easter story presented as "this is what Christians believe".

theroseofwait Sat 30-Mar-13 11:18:44

Chocolate eggs represent the tomb of Jesus. And, of course you are free to eat as many eggs as you wish, but it is quite odd to celebrate the festivals of a religion to which you do not belong nor at least uphold some of the basic beliefs, surely?

MajaBiene Sat 30-Mar-13 11:19:56

Chocolate eggs represent the tomb of Jesus? Assume you are joking!

Eggs and rabbits are fertility symbols!

HesterShaw Sat 30-Mar-13 11:21:11

But eating chocolate and giving gifts has nothing to do with believersueving in a religion.

The bible mentions nothing of chocolate, and as has been pointed out, eggs are a symbol of spring and fertility, and nothing to do with a son of god dying for "my sins".

HesterShaw Sat 30-Mar-13 11:21:42

Believing rather.

I don't know where that weird word came from.

zwischenzug Sat 30-Mar-13 11:22:49

The beauty of atheism is of course you can celebrate what you want, when you want, without having to bring "God" into it wink

TheFallenNinja Sat 30-Mar-13 11:23:08

What do you expect it to accomplish?

seeker Sat 30-Mar-13 11:23:51

"Seeker- because any Christian would know about ascension day."

So would any reasonably well educated atheist!

And have you missed the fact that nobody is saying that children shouldn't be told about the Christian Easter beliefs? It's this particular bizarre story which people are saying is wholly inappropriate for 7 year olds.

MajaBiene Sat 30-Mar-13 11:24:06

It is interesting how Christianity managed to rebrand a load of pagan traditions and symbolism though - oh yes, eggs are just like a tomb. And chicks are basically like Jesus. And the Easter bunny the Virgin Mary grin

seeker Sat 30-Mar-13 11:25:07

Oh, and Easter eggs do not represent Jesus's tomb. They .........eggs!

MajaBiene Sat 30-Mar-13 11:25:49

FallenNinja if this happened at my DS's school I would want reassurance that 4-7 year olds won't be told horror stories about children crushed to death in machinery again.

theroseofwait Sat 30-Mar-13 11:26:44

No, why would I joke?! Birds break out of their eggs to new life just as Jesus broke out of the tomb. Some Christians believe that egg rolling stems from the boulder rolling from the tomb entrance, but that is a step too far for me personally!

theroseofwait Sat 30-Mar-13 11:30:00

Well clearly not seeker, in terms of ascension day. Am on iPad so can't quote. . and who are you to tell me which of my beliefs are correct?

MajaBiene Sat 30-Mar-13 11:30:18

therose, these are obviously traditional spring time symbols that Christianity has stretched to make relevant to their story. Why do you think the timing of Christmas and Easter are as they are? Early Christianity took traditional festivals and made them Christian.

Tethering Sat 30-Mar-13 11:30:39

I can't help but think that maybe your ds did miss part of the story, possibly because he is so young. If it was an Easter allegory then the son comes back to life, if it was a reworking of the Abraham story then the son is also saved. Perhaps your ds was so shocked by the bridge and train part that he missed the ending. confused

The only other point I'd make is that assemblies are usually for more than one class so it can be a difficult to pitch a story just right for little ones and older ones. My ds came home from nursery telling me about Jesus being put on the cross with nails and then dying. I'm a Catholic and I was a bit shock that they had been given so much detail. However it was in assembly and the entire school were present so I can understand that there may be parts that aren't entirely appopriate for the smallest members. I think they hope it will go above their heads. (my ds wasn't traumatised. I was more shocked than him - he equated it with superheroes and baddies and then the goodies saved the day because Jesus came back to life grin ).

If I was as angry about this as you are then I would have a word with the HT when you go back after Easter. The vicar gave the talk but the ht is responsible.

However, don't conflate two issues. You obviously
aren't comfortable with your child learning about God and yet don't want him to miss out. You can't ask the school to change their approach to collective acts of worship to please you. You can ask them to explain how they ensure talks are age-appropriate for a mixed age audience.

HesterShaw Sat 30-Mar-13 11:30:52

But the chicks are just born! For the first time, they are not resurrected. And they are also a product of their parents mating, whereas sex is so distasteful to Christians, they insist Jesus's mother was a virgin.

seeker Sat 30-Mar-13 11:31:09

Christians have always been brilliant at hijacking traditions from other religions and none. But the egg/tomb thing is a new one one on me!

zwischenzug Sat 30-Mar-13 11:32:15


In particular, the custom of the Easter egg originated amongst the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion.

It's funny though how chocolate easter eggs are said to mean something convenient to the message Christians want them to mean. Nothing to do with stuffing your face with chocolate...

seeker Sat 30-Mar-13 11:33:01

"However, don't conflate two issues. You obviously
aren't comfortable with your child learning about God"

Nobody, but nobody has ever said they don't want thier children learning about God! Why do people persist in putting up that straw man?

HesterShaw Sat 30-Mar-13 11:36:16

Somehow I think Easter would be less popular if we were still on stained red eggs.

zwischenzug Sat 30-Mar-13 11:36:45

However, don't conflate two issues. You obviously aren't comfortable with your child learning about God and yet don't want him to miss out. You can't ask the school to change their approach to collective acts of worship to please you.

If it's a non-religious school you certainly can complain about bringing in senior figures from various cults and talking about their cult as if it is evidence-based fact. Children should not have to be made to feel different and excluded to be defended from this sort of attempted indoctrination.

MajaBiene Sat 30-Mar-13 11:37:28

Learning about god/s is fine, children should learn about all kinds of gods. But it shouldn't be presented as uncontested fact, especially when children are very young.

Why couldn't the vicar have just explained what Christians believe about Easter?

zwischenzug Sat 30-Mar-13 11:38:31

Somehow I think Easter would be less popular if we were still on stained red eggs.

Maybe this is what cadbury's creme eggs represent, seeing as they have a red/orange bit in the filling...

soverylucky Sat 30-Mar-13 11:42:01

I can see why people dislike something presented as fact to their children when they personally don't believe it but I honestly don't think it is a massive problem.
I went to a very large catholic school - we were told all about the catholic faith, had weekly mass, benediction and confession. I am pretty certian that most of my fellow school friends no longer believe or go to church. Simmilarly in my very large catholic family I am the only one who carried on going to church despite our upbringing.

There is a point of principle which I can see you are getting at and perhaps the vicar could have phrased things differently ( I wasn't there so don't know for certain) but since church attendance is at an all time low I don't think any of the methods used by the church with reference to schools is actually working or having an effect.

MajaBiene Sat 30-Mar-13 11:44:09

I'd be more pissed off about the horror story than the god stuff, but if I was complaining I'd mention both.

theroseofwait Sat 30-Mar-13 11:44:10

Actually, Maja, I'm with you there, and I don't glorify Christianity when I'm teaching-it would be completely wrong to do so. I find all religion fascinating but didn't actually become a Christian until I was 32.

What does annoy me are the people who cherry pick Christian beliefs to just have a nice time!

HesterShaw Sat 30-Mar-13 11:48:53

Yes but as we non Christians have pointed out, we are not cherry picking Christian beliefs just to have a nice time. I know it suits Christians to think that all non believers are shallow and lacking in principle, but as has been explained atheists don't think chocolate eggs are anything to do with the teachings of god, Jesus, and all those who came after them peddling the story.

Chocolate is chocolate. Eggs are a fertility symbol.

Tethering Sat 30-Mar-13 11:53:27

seeker I wasn't referring to 'anybody' or 'everybody' but to the op where it says:
I really don't feel comfortable with him feeling that bad things will happen if he doesn't follow God's word
It's the Op's fear that that is how religion is presented.
zwischenzug really? You see even non-denominational schools where I live are open about the fact they will provide religious education. This expectation that there will be no discussion about religion doesn't exist.
I'm not here to defend religious education in schools or my religious beliefs. I was responding to the op's post. It would be nice if others didn't see it as an opportunity to launch their own religious agenda but that's obviously too much to ask. I'm not going to derail the op's thread.

LadyBeaEGGleEyes Sat 30-Mar-13 11:54:38

As has been said over and over again therose, Christianity nicked all the pagan traditions and arranged their own calendar around them.
Eggs are a fertility symbol and the beginning of spring and rebirth.
Just as Christmas is set around the winter solistice.
It's now commercial and a popular holiday, and if non Christians want to eat chocolate eggs and not think about God, that is their right.

zwischenzug Sat 30-Mar-13 11:58:58

...they will provide religious education. This expectation that there will be no discussion about religion doesn't exist.

Straw man... education (as in "some people believe this") is one thing, indoctrination as in the OPs case is something else.

MajaBiene Sat 30-Mar-13 12:40:59

therose - Christianity cherry picked the bits of existing festivals that they liked/could fit round their story, not the other way round. I celebrate Easter as a traditional beginning of spring festival, that involves eating nice new lambs, chocolate eggs, magic bunnies and daffodils - Jesus doesn't come in to it.

Same as in late December I celebrate a mid-winter festival that has been happening for much longer than a couple of thousand years, with evergreen trees (please don't tell me Christmas trees are something to do with Christ!), feasting, gift giving and general enjoyment in an otherwise dreary time of year.

chris481 Sat 30-Mar-13 14:50:30

I haven't read the thread, so hope I'm not duplicating. Legally speaking, the man in the story may have made the wrong decision. You cannot kill (violate the human rights) of one person in order to save the others. The relative numbers or potential deaths involved are irrelevant. Assuming his intervention caused someone to die who would not otherwise have died, he has committed a crime.

(Not a lawyer, going from something I heard about a reality TV program where people had to make a similar decision. They also went with saving the greater number of lives in the hypothetical scenario, and were told they'd got it wrong.)

ComposHat Sat 30-Mar-13 15:00:20

I'm an atheist too, but am surprised that you find that the 'daily act of Christian worship' addresses (albeit in an oblique way) the central tenet of Christian faith. If you don't want him exposed to Christian teachings, withdraw him from the act of worship, but you can't have it both ways

Send your email by all long as you don't mind it getting pinned up in the staff room and the teachers making 'wanker' gestures behind your back come the next parents' evening.

seeker Sat 30-Mar-13 18:07:09

I find it extraordinary that people find it impossible to understand the distinction between teaching about and teaching to do. If a child is worried that he will suffer some unpleasant consequences if he doesn't follow god's word, he hasn't been taught about Chrisitianity- he has been taught to do Christianity. Th first is fine. The second isn't.

Dinkysmummy Sat 30-Mar-13 19:59:02

I think you are right to send the email.

I have the same issues with that story! Your poor DS and the other DC who think their parents might not save them!

FeistyLass Sat 30-Mar-13 20:53:48

Seeker I'm sure you don't mean to be patronising but your post could read that way. Unless you were there you don't know whether the children were taught 'about' Easter or instructed to act in a certain way. It's all about context. Sometimes schools can do their utmost to give context but dcs can miss it or not understand it.

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