to want my child to be free of religion at school?

(230 Posts)
cherryade8 Sat 18-May-13 14:21:15

I've startedlooking at schools and attending open days for my dd. Even the supposedly secular schools teach about religion and seen to have display boards with posters and pupils work explaining the intricacies of each religion.

I'm not religious and don't wish dd to be exposed to more than a cursory explanation of religion at school. What people choose to teach their children outside of school is none of my business, why does the curriculum seem to want to force it on children? It seems to be the case in both state and private schools.


FannyMcNally Sat 18-May-13 14:25:17

RE is part of the NC. I agree that actual worshipping doesn't belong in schools but it is important to learn about different religions.

mikkii Sat 18-May-13 14:25:31

Since this is covered in the national curriculum YABU. Perhaps you can find a non religious private school, I believe they do not have to cover the national curriculum.

Isn't there a provision allowing you to withdraw children from RE? Or is that only sex ed?

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sat 18-May-13 14:26:27

YANBU to not want your child to be involved in collective worship etc but YABU to not want her to be taught about religion at all. It is a massive part of culture and to go into adulthood without understanding it would make her poorer.

I sent my dcs to a Catholic school because I specifically wanted a faith based education and I am fortunate enough to live in a part of the country where it's almost unheard of not to get into your first preference school but I think the system sucks for parents who want a secular education, especially those in rural areas where all local schools are CofE.

Sparhawk Sat 18-May-13 14:27:28

YANBU. Legally all schools have to include daily worship:

'Collective Worship is legally required to take place every school day and ‘shall be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’ (1988 Education Act).'

I want my DD to learn about religions, I don't wish for her to indoctrinated into one or forced to worship.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 18-May-13 14:29:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 18-May-13 14:30:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Remotecontrolduck Sat 18-May-13 14:30:52


She needs to learn about all religions I think as it won't do her much good in the long run to be unaware, and could mean her opinions about different faiths will come from the media (eg all Muslims are terrorists), with no knowledge of what people actually believe.

You're right about the whole collective worship/focus on christianity though.

Weegiemum Sat 18-May-13 14:30:57

I'm a Christian.

I don't want my children 'worshipping' in school (mainly as its done very, vey badly) but very pleased they learn about religion!

Cherryade - I would argue that religions have formed the basis for so much of world culture and history, that anyone who does not understand those religions will be severely handicapped in understanding that culture and history.

I would also suggest that, since for some people religion is an important and central part of their lives, an understanding of religions makes understanding and relating to these people much easier.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 14:34:08

there are no secular schools in the UK

Take a look at the humanist society webpage for a variety of information and help

greenformica Sat 18-May-13 14:34:30

It's all part of understanding different people and cultures, I can't see the problem.

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 14:35:00

cherryade8 so you want your child to be ignorant of one of the key driving forces of people's lives, beliefs and actions (including wars, much of history, current politics)? Good luck in finding a school that doesn't teach any RE!

Sparhawk Sat 18-May-13 14:36:38

After re-reading what you said I actually think YABU. I can understand not wanting your child to take part in collective worship but I do think learning about religion is important.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 14:37:11

Without being taught about different religions how are children (and the adults they grow into) supposed to learn to tolerate and respect others and their religious and cultural differences?

I am a Christian but I am not a big fan of collective worship in schools but teaching ABOUT religions is a vital part of the curriculum, moreso than ever given the multicultural nature of the country.

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 14:40:16

Your attitude is very odd OP.

I doubt you will find anywhere that doesnt teach about the different religions in any way. Why do you want it to kept a secret?

I think that finding a secondary school will be even harder.

FannyMcNally Sat 18-May-13 14:41:50

I think if we took away the option of withdrawing from RE lessons (but leaving the option to withdraw from worshipping) then the difference would be a lot clearer. I think some people assume RE lessons are about religious instruction and not what it actually is i.e. neutral learning about other faiths.

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 14:41:51

Its also not just about teaching RE.

Much of British history has religious connotations, as does world geography.

Pozzled Sat 18-May-13 14:45:32

Like some posters above, I do want my DDs to learn about religion. Religion has had (and continues to have) a huge influence on history, politics, society as a whole. It's important for children to have an awareness and understanding of it.

However, I don't really want my children involved in any actual worship until they're old enough to decide their beliefs for themselves. I think it's time the collective worship rule was scrapped IMO.

NotYoMomma Sat 18-May-13 14:47:08

As an athiest I THINK RE is of huge importance in understanding a lot of the worlds political landscape and peoples motivations and way of thinking (no matter how outlandish) yabu

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 14:49:40

Also, depending on the school that your DD goes to, she is going to be exposed to different religions from the other pupils.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 14:52:36

TBH though would it matter if RE wasn't taught until secondary school a bit like french?

it would free up time for the teachers to work/teach other subjects better

FarBetterNow Sat 18-May-13 15:09:43


Religious knowledge is surely part of general knowledge.

Wellthen Sat 18-May-13 15:12:12

YABU for starting yet another thread about this and not doing a search first. The only way to avoid this is
a: send them to a private school that is completely secular (and hope none of her friends are religious)
b: This sentence - I am not religious for these, my dear child, may make your own mind up.

YABU. Learning about religions is important. I can know about lots of things without believing the same. For example, I know what anti-vax people think even though I don't agree.

Collective Christian worship being forced on children OTOH is ridiculous, discriminatory and anachronistic. Time that went the way of the dinosaurs.

I am a very militant atheist, but I want DS to learn about religions. Especially if, as he gets older, he has teachers who can explain them in terms of the warmongering and misogyny that they fuel, as well as just This is Imaginary Friend A and this is Ritual B.

But I think collective worship has no place at all in schools. Why should kids have their time wasted talking to someone's imaginary friend?

VenusUprising Sat 18-May-13 15:21:13

It's been shown that the brain invents religion at an early age to make sense of the world, and to learn morality. Here's the new scientist God Issue

Explaining death to a toddler without a heaven is a hard job, and leaves very little comfort for the child.

I think the teen years are fine for reevaluation of personal faith system/religion.

Maybe choose a school where the worship isn't so strictly enforced, but religion is a part of our brains, and as such is part of our psychology and moral make up. Why would you want your child to be ignorant of that?

exexpat Sat 18-May-13 15:21:27

I'm an atheist, and while I think compulsory worship in schools should be abolished, I think teaching about religions is a very good thing. I think it promotes tolerance, and possibly encourages children to question the beliefs they are indoctrinated with at home.

If schools did not introduce children to the main ideas of the major religions, they would only ever get to hear about their own family's religion (if any), and since most religions have the view that what every other religion believes is wrong, that tends to be very one-sided. Learning about other religions might encourage an understanding of how much many of them have in common, and also raise the idea that perhaps no one has all the 'right' answers.

Members of very closed, fundamentalist religious groups are usually opposed to teaching RE in schools precisely for this reason - which makes me even more convinced it's a good thing.

scaevola Sat 18-May-13 15:22:17

If OP wants a school at does not follow NC, and does not adhere to the requirement for collective worship (though you can opt your DC out of that bit) then she needs to look in the private sector.

But I've never heard of a private school which does have either (indeed I can't think of one without both). Anyone know if such a place exists?

exexpat Sat 18-May-13 15:28:08

Most private schools are nominally Christian - at least all the ones in my city are. Most say they welcome children of 'all faiths and none', but they do about the same amount of 'worship' and RE as state schools, in my experience. There are a handful of well-known exceptions, eg places like Summerhill School, but they are definitely not the norm.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 18-May-13 15:33:06

Learning about religion is the same as learning about politics or history. YABU to want your child to be uneducated, in a very important subject.

YANBU to want your child to attend a secular school that has no worship/religious practices. Unfortunately these don't exist in the state sector and are hard to come by in the private sector.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 15:34:15

The amount of knowledge a child need on religion could be taught in one lesson, it certainly doesn't need a subject all of its own. Some people believe in fairy tales, very nice, why not have a subject on all the different football teams that people support, it would have the same educational value.

overprotection What a load of nonsense, I'm an atheist, but to deny the huge impact religion has had on our history, art, culture and politics, both negative and positive, and to compare it to football, is incredibly ignorant and naive.

CaramelLatte Sat 18-May-13 15:46:57

My 13 yo dd is an athiest(sp) but her favourite subject is RE. She likes to learn about and understand other people's beliefs.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 15:48:37

RE doesn't cover any of those things, it's basically a load of fairy story nonsense from whatever daft book applies to the religion the school chooses. The important historical events connected with religion are already covered in the History curriculum. Nobody needs to know the parable of the goat with 3 legs that flew Jesus to the top of Mount swizzle stick to collect a lollipop.

raisah Sat 18-May-13 15:49:10

I think it is really important to learn about other faiths, you may not agree with their teachings but the central message in all faiths is quite similar. To learn about other beliefs & practices is the first step to acceptance and understanding. Bigotry & prejudice stem from ignorance and lack of knowledge, the best thing you can do for your child is to instill knowledge.

Just on a basic level, if your child learnt about other faiths they would know that Muslims & Jews do not eat pork. Hindus do not eat beef and that Sikhs, Buddhists & Jains are vegetarian. Quite useful information for birthday parties & general socialising.

Also that not all children celebrate Christmas & Easter from a religious point of view. Knowing why would be useful for your child. My R.E teacher at school was v ignorant & made me stand up during assembly to explain why I did not celebrate Christmas. I said that Muslims regard Jesus as a Prophet not as a son of God & that we believe in his second coming. To which she replied 'No you dont, he belongs to the Christians!' says it all really.

WorraLiberty Sat 18-May-13 15:52:13


Why would you want your child to grow up in ignorance of something that's so important to the people she's going to be around in her life?

I believe worship should be kept out of school but not something as important to other people as religion...we should all have a bit of knowledge about it.

And I say that as an atheist.

raisah Sat 18-May-13 15:53:38

I think it is really important to learn about other faiths, you may not agree with their teachings but the central message in all faiths is quite similar. To learn about other beliefs & practices is the first step to acceptance and understanding. Bigotry & prejudice stem from ignorance and lack of knowledge, the best thing you can do for your child is to instill knowledge.

Just on a basic level, if your child learnt about other faiths they would know that Muslims & Jews do not eat pork. Hindus do not eat beef and that Sikhs, Buddhists & Jains are vegetarian. Quite useful information for birthday parties & general socialising.

Also that not all children celebrate Christmas & Easter from a religious point of view. Knowing why would be useful for your child. My R.E teacher at school was v ignorant & made me stand up during assembly to explain why I did not celebrate Christmas. I said that Muslims regard Jesus as a Prophet not as a son of God & that we believe in his second coming. To which she replied 'No you dont, he belongs to the Christians!' says it all really.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 15:58:22

Overprotection RE DOES cover those things when taught well. And anyway if the OP got her way and religion wasn't touched on at all it would make big chunks of history impossible to teach anyway.

Its a shame the OP hasn't come back yet, it would be interesting to see why she wants to her her children from religion and how she thinks that is even going to be possible.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 18-May-13 16:07:31

overprotection I don't know if you're basing your views on your experience of RE or what your DC's are bing taught, but somewhere a teacher is failing. RE should cover all those things, and certainly did when I was at school. We never learnt any specific stories like your example of the 3-legged lollipop goat. It was all about the effect of religion on people's lives and beliefs.

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 16:15:21

overprotection - you can be an atheist and still be respectful.

cory Sat 18-May-13 16:20:54

I'm a pacifist: do you think I could request that my children shouldn't be taught about war? Because after all, the important thing is not that they should learn about the world around them but that my sensibilities should be protected.

Parajse Sat 18-May-13 16:30:53

The only part of school life in which religion is 'forced' on children as such is assemblies in which prayers are said at the end. You can opt out of assemblies if you don't want your children to be exposed to that. My mum pulled me out of assemblies in primary school for that reason- she comes from a country torn apart by religion (among other things) and wanted nothing more to do with it by the time she came to the UK. By secondary she just told me to bow my head politely but not join in

RE doesn't really impose any religion more than any other tbh, they learn about a wide range. The violence in my mum's home country if anything has made me think more than ever that we all need an understanding and respect for other religions, even if we believe in non of them ourselves. The trouble starts when we think our own beliefs are the only way, which is less likely to happen if we have an understanding of all different cultures and different people who are a part of them.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 16:35:23

ShadeofViolet my version of being respectful does not mean I am prepared to stay quiet about the educational void of RE to be foisted up the backsides of children for years on end when vastly more useful subjects like modern language aren't even compulsory for GCSE. Ignoring the very real modern languages used by billions across the globe to focus on hocus-pocus and it's cultural significance and this apparently makes children less ignorant and insular. Hmmm sure.

Euphemia Sat 18-May-13 16:38:43


You don't want your DD to understand the community and the world she lives in?

You don't want your DD to grow up understanding why other people look, behave, worship, etc. the way they do, rather than viewing them as "other"?

Are you going to complain if the school wants to teach her about Europe? The Second World War? Anti-Semitism? Where does it end?!

I don't know about the curriculum in England, but the Scottish curriculum for Religious and Moral Education states:

Learning through religious and moral education enables me to:
• recognise religion as an important expression of human experience
• learn about and from the beliefs, values, practices and traditions of Christianity and the world religions selected for study, other traditions and viewpoints independent of religious belief
• explore and develop knowledge and understanding of religions, recognising the place of Christianity in the Scottish context
• investigate and understand the responses which religious and non-religious views can offer to questions about the nature and meaning of life
• recognise and understand religious diversity and the importance of religion in society
• develop respect for others and an understanding of beliefs and practices which are different from my own
• explore and establish values such as wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity and engage in the development of and reflection upon my own moral values
• develop my beliefs, attitudes, values and practices through reflection, discovery and critical evaluation
• develop the skills of reflection, discernment, critical thinking and deciding how to act when making moral decisions
• make a positive difference to the world by putting my beliefs and values into action
• establish a firm foundation for lifelong learning, further learning and adult life.

I like that. smile

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 16:40:07

Well it obviously didnt work to make you less ignorant.

Everyone else on the thread seems to have been able to discuss religion without being mocking or poking fun at the things people choose to believe in. You post however is bordering on offensive.

Wellthen Sat 18-May-13 16:42:03

RE is not compulsory at GCSE to my knowledge.

English is the most widely spoken language in the world - MFL is a fabulous subject but useful is not a word I would use to describe it.

Children who have had good RE understand that others believe and behave differently to themselves and are tolerant and respectful. Religion has a huge impact on culture, including our own. This is not taught in history or, in my opinion, in any other subject.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 16:43:40

RE is compulsory - not the exam itself though

ShadeofViolet Sat 18-May-13 16:46:18

Only up to year 8 in our school.

YABU - as lots of other posters have said, it's part of the curriculum, but more that that, it's important to have an understanding beyond the cursory 'Muslims believe in Mohammed, Jews don't believe in Jesus' in order to have a tolerant, reasonable country. If you're not talking about faith at home, then it's good that the school is filling it in. And understanding faith has knock-on effects to lots of other subjects - it's referenced in art, literature, history, architecture to name but a few.

fwiw, I find evangelical atheism as unpalatable as evangelical Christianity.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 16:52:49

you'll find Shade that they have some kind of RE or ethics cross curriculum day thereafter/

agree re some atheists too - yawn tooth fairy crap, RE vital to understand art literature and language

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 16:55:14

You don't want your DD to understand the community and the world she lives in

If the justification for educating children about religion is cultural/social awareness, then why is such a large proportion of school time specifically dedicated to educating people specifically about religion? Religion is a tiny subset of the cultural and social awareness that a well rounded person ought to have, yet almost all the other aspects other than religion are ignored.

Would it not make far more sense to have a "cultural and social awareness" subject in place of RE that covers the basics of religion but also covers the far more important and relevant aspects of UK and world culture that a well-rounded person ought to know about?

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 16:56:30

A large proportion of time? RE lessons at state primary school is normally about an hour a week.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sat 18-May-13 16:56:32

If you don't have a grounding in the bible then you will simply not 'get' vast swathes of literature etc. You might think you do but you will miss out of a sub level of understanding, a bit like Father Ted is still funny to a British atheist but they miss out on something that Irish Catholics get (I believe the Kumars is similar to British Asians). Obviously you can't be all things but you can try and get as much knowledge as possible. Even pop music is littered with stuff from the bible. It would be like not knowing and fairy tales or Roman/Greek/Norse mythology.

OrlaKiely Sat 18-May-13 16:56:39

yanbu, it's rubbish. Try to finda school without polyester uniform or religious influence and you're shafted.

I think you can ask for DCs to be withdrawn from both collective worship (assemblies) and from RE lessons (which should be more neutrally taught, like any other humanity subject, but perhaps may not always be so ?)

If you take up this option then you may be happier with the education your DD receives at school.

I think it's good advice too that the humanist society could advise.

Personally I like my DCs to learn about different religions and cultures, and also to have opportunities to explore and discuss with others different religious ideas, and what they themselves believe.

However I also agree with some other posters that I would expect most of the exploration of their own beliefs to take place in their own faith communities and families.

Always think it's very interesting that in US there's a very different culture around this, and all schools have to be secular - which incidentally is one big reason there's such a focus over there on creationism, so that some religion can sneek into schools under the guise of the science curriculum
(how the world was made)
Whereas in UK we have a long tradition of church established & partly funded schools.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 16:56:55

if oyu have actually been into an RE lesson since you were at school you will find the subject has transformed.
And it does MASSES On basic spirituality, philosophy, moral codes etcetc

you really need to have found out about what is taught when it is taught WELL before opining.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 16:57:46

IME teenage kids LOVE Re lessons.
I know, I was surprised too,

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sat 18-May-13 16:58:25

*I am a very militant atheist, but I want DS to learn about religions. Especially if, as he gets older, he has teachers who can explain them in terms of the warmongering and misogyny that they fuel, as well as just This is Imaginary Friend A and this is Ritual B.

But I think collective worship has no place at all in schools. Why should kids have their time wasted talking to someone's imaginary friend?*


I'd much rather they learn something useful, like foreign languages, politics, world politics or fiscal studies, money management, mortgages, etc. something they might actually need to use when they're grown up.

specialsubject Sat 18-May-13 16:58:39

it is the 'act of collective worship' that I don't like. Do teachers have to lead prayers even if they are not believers?

If RE is taught like history (people did this, possibly motivated by that...) without 'this is right and this is wrong' then it is valuable to understanding why the world is as it is. Hopefully learning that there are many different religions will also produce children who can make up their own minds - provided their parents allow them that choice of course.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 16:59:03

i think we need to distinguish between religious assemblies and RE

Noorny Sat 18-May-13 16:59:37

What about the effects of indoctrinating your child with an atheist set of beliefs....surely that is just as bad. Why the hell should you dictate what your child learns. Either suck it up or home school and stop whinging.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 16:59:46

teachers dont often have to do assemblies.

If oyu are in a church school its a bit churlish really, I am not religious but just do a generally dear god mumbly prayer - dont believe in it so who cares

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 17:01:49

I do think that collective worship is odd. Esp in non religious state schools, we are the only state in Europe to have this.

I do think atheists do protest too much though when their kids are in church schools.
Also who says that the atheists kid doesn't also have the Human right to have a faith - rather than shoving atheism down their throat grin

Euphemia Sat 18-May-13 17:03:40

We don't do daily collective worship in Scotland, thank Christ goodness.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 17:04:12

most schools in England dont tbh.

noddyholder Sat 18-May-13 17:06:48

My son loved it and we are virtually heathens! But the teacher was amazing and on the open day for the school he spoke 'elvish' to them and they were hooked smile,it was very informative though and not at all preachy preachy.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 17:07:25

yup kids LOVE RS.
its the parents who remember bible stories boredom

Euphemia Sat 18-May-13 17:10:11

We're covering all the six main world religions with P3 this year and they love it. We have a mixture of cultural backgrounds in the school, and I firmly believe that education opens the mind and promotes tolerance.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 17:11:58

Either suck it up or home school and stop whinging.

Lol that's just brilliant, if the government service you pay a vast amount of tax towards isn't to your satisfaction, don't say anything and spend a vast amount of extra time and money performing the service yourself (in addition to all the tax you are paying for a service you don't use). With such excellent logic you could be an RE teacher.

tethersend Sat 18-May-13 17:14:47


If anyone is going to lie to my kids, it's ME.

Noorny Sat 18-May-13 17:20:12


My logic has actually enabled me to acheive a doctorate with distinction from Cambridge University. I have lectured in neuroscience all over the world and I am now a multiple business owner.

Not that there is anything wrong in being an RE teacher. I dare say it is a better job than what an adult who starts posts with the learned, mature and insightful statement "LOL" is able to achieve.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 17:21:19

You utter snob.

Overprotection - you say you would be happier if it was taught as social and cultural studies - but a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and you cannot study different cultures without studying the religions that influence them - so it would be the same subject with a different title.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 17:25:41

Noorny I am surprised you have time to post on here, aren't you on a task this afternoon? You are on "The Apprentice" right? As that sort of dubious self-aggrandizement is the preserve of such characters who wish to find an investment from Alan Sugar.

Startail Sat 18-May-13 17:26:52

Personally I think that religion is the source of a lot of personal comfort and institutional evil. Fear of death and other events beyond our control is the price we pay for being inteligent self aware creatures.

Throughout history humans have invented God or gods to explain the world around them. This is so part of our history and culture our DCs need to understand it.

However, schools should not assume that all DCs have or need some form of god in their lives. They should not teach religion as fact, only opinion. No child should ever be in trouble for politely questioning matters of faith.

The idea that seems to pervade all primary schools and a lot of secondaries is that all DCs, who are not registered as Muslim/Hindu/Jewish etc are by default Christian. If you do not bow your head and say a prayer that means nothing to you, you are being naughty.

Wishiwasanheiress Sat 18-May-13 17:28:15

You are coming across as ignorant, idiotic, whiny, snobbish and stupid. Not necessarily in that order. BU is just a tiny part unfortunately. For all the reasons previously posted by others. Some excellent posts here. (This not one of them but adding penneth anyway)

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 17:28:46

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius as I explained I would expect religion would get a mention, it just wouldn't be so disproportionately focused on as it is at the moment. Religion is a tiny subset of the various cultural/social aspects that make up the world we live in, and does not warrant the excessive amount of time spent on it at school.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 17:29:04

"If you do not bow your head and say a prayer that means nothing to you, you are being naughty."

what exact evidence do you have of that?

Noorny Sat 18-May-13 17:32:00

It does not surprise me for one minute overprotection that your understanding of business is limited to a reality TV show.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 17:35:13

LOVING the row

carry on

* sits down*

rabbitlady Sat 18-May-13 17:36:14

i don't want children to catch diseases but i think they ought to know what they are and why people get them.

religion is the key motivation in the lives of billions of people. if your dd does not know about religions her education will be incomplete and she won't be prepared for the world she has to live in.

also, as teaching r e is my job, i need the customers, so keep 'em coming...

nooka Sat 18-May-13 17:37:41

I'm an atheist brought up as Catholic and from a religious family. I think that worship does not belong in schools and was very angry to find our local community school had a very strong religious bent essentially because of a friendship between the head and a local vicar. I did not appreciate my dd coming home and telling me very firmly about god stuff that she now believed as a result of 'Father x' and how he was right because his house was bigger than ours (weird child logic there!).

However a few years fast forward and we now live in Canada where education is totally secular and they learn nothing about religion at all. This leaves some odd gaps in their general knowledge, and I do think a grounding in why people believe and the core tenets of the major faiths is important to know.

overprotection Sat 18-May-13 17:41:06

Ahh Noorny, Noorny, Noorny. First we've had your comical attempt to portray yourself as a jetsetting super genius who runs a string of multinationals whilst picking up certificate after certificate from top institutions, and now you've moved onto baseless assumptions about the education of someone you know nothing about. How about some "Yo momma is so fat..." jokes to make it a hat-trick?

NicholasTeakozy Sat 18-May-13 17:57:48

A direct quote from DD1 "Studying theology made me realise atheism was the only sane option".


tethersend Sat 18-May-13 17:59:33

I want my child to know about Hitler, but I'd rather passages of Mein Kampf weren't used in assembly for quiet reflection.

Same for religion.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 17:59:47

Overprotection - do you really not appreciate the massive impact which religion has on so many aspects on modern life and history? Not only of this country but worldwide? Do you not think children need to understand that to even begin to understand the world in which they are living in?

gordyslovesheep Sat 18-May-13 18:03:05

I was raised Christian - sang in choir, helped in Sunday school etc

I am now a humanist - and living proof that learning about religion and being exposed to it doesn't make you blind to other views

My mum is a committed Christian but she always let us have our own beliefs and never ever insisted we blindly follow her views

I feel the same - I will not sheid my children from religious ideas, information about faiths or religious people.

How do you make a choice to reject or accept a faith if you know nothing about them - teaching about faith and even participating in prayer wont harm a child.

My children will have the right to make their own choices about faith and I will support them - so I actively expose them to all ideas rather than censor their learning

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 18:03:09

Tethers That's ludicrous

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 18:03:26

for those of you that feel it is really important to learn about other religions at school- why not do that at home?

For those parents that don't want their children to learn about other religions due to thier own religion being the only religion they send them to faither schools where re is taught in a different way.

So why do we bother to teach this subject?

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 18:04:35

Because parents might know jack shit?

Same argument for any subject. French. Geography. Citizenship

tethersend Sat 18-May-13 18:06:11

Nehru, I just mean there's a difference between teaching children about religion and presenting it to them as fact.

It's the latter I object to.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 18:10:03

Lets just stop sending children to school by that logic ivy. Parents can teach everything can't they, and of course when it comes to something as emotive as religion parents are well known for giving children a broad understanding of all religions.

Decoy Sat 18-May-13 18:10:53

YABU. Religions are very influential throughout the world, whatever your own beliefs. An understanding of how they work is beneficial in understanding current affairs, cultural history and learning tolerance.

gordyslovesheep Sat 18-May-13 18:12:10

Ivykaty do you feel able to teach about all faiths? I am not that well informed - I take my girls to different temples and open days etc but I don't know as much about other faiths as I do the one I was raised in.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 18-May-13 18:12:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 18:13:00

They don't present it as fact. You need to go and watch a lesson.

Badvoc Sat 18-May-13 18:13:36

RE is a part of the NC.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 18:13:50

Cheers last post.

Re is an examination of faith. Not an advert for it.

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 18:15:12

The law is you have to cover Christianity but you can't JUST do that.
All faiths presented objectively "believes would be opposed to abortion because "

Nehru Sat 18-May-13 18:15:43

"Believers "

it should be presented as fact, that is for sure, Nehru.

OVerprotection - given how influential religion has been and, in some areas, still is, in world history and culture, I think just a mere 'mention' would not suffice.

Since I believe ignorance leads to fear and intolerance, and that this can be combated by learning and knowledge, I would argue that it is important that children learn more than just a couple of basic facts about the major world religions - and it is such a big subject, it needs more than just a mention.

Catmint Sat 18-May-13 18:19:53

I think it is good to learn about religion, but in a dogma-free setting. Religious education done well is fab. Done poorly it is confusing and upsetting.

In non faith schools, assembly should be secular, having time for reflection rather than prayer, and songs with meaning instead of hymns. IMO .

Hello Suffolk, you helped me with a school RE issue a few months ago, and it made such a difference. thanks

tethersend Sat 18-May-13 18:20:17

Yy, that's my point- I have no objection to RE lessons, I object to 'collective worship' and religious schools.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 18-May-13 18:26:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I think it's useful and necessary. I am a firm atheist. My DD2 is 13 and loves RS. She has just finished learning about Buddhism and the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths and e story of how Siddharta Gautama became enlightened and became known as the Buddha. She has studied kosher and she has studied the Hajj, she has studied and discussed how Hinduism is monotheistic and how many ither beliefs come from it. She has learnt so much about the world. Most of her friends are Hindu, and she knows about certain rules surrounding that. When studying the break with Rome and Henry VIII, she can confidently discuss the differences between Catholic and Protestant churches, and when studying Turkey, she could easily understand the effects of Islam on the culture of the country. She knows about beliefs and empires, she questions more and is taught how to think philosophically and she is still a firm atheist....who knows more, understands more and thinks more. She wants to be an RS teacher r a history teacher, and there's a reason for that- religion is connected to humans in many ways (the reasons why are very interesting) and is part of nearly every culture. RS teaches critical thought and encourages unbiased discussion.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 18:54:18


My dd's RE teachers have been none christian, much younger and far more funkier with a lot of debating taking place in class, a couple were male and one was female.

I have no idea what RE teachers are like in general.

Why though is it felt so important to spend from primary school through junior school and then into secondary school to be learning about RE why not condense this to secondary?

Bowlersarm Sat 18-May-13 18:55:29

That's a bit weird.

I think the OP just wanted to spark a debate. I don't think she's been back to take part in the conversation since she OPed.

Is that normal?

SuffolkNWhat Sat 18-May-13 18:57:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Queazy Sat 18-May-13 18:58:11

It's important to learn about other cultures and religions for children to appreciate and value the differences in others. It's very different to learn about another religion than to pray in all school assemblies as we did as kids. I would embrace it, as long as they don't force a particular focus on one religion x

Queazy Sat 18-May-13 19:00:05

Just re-read that ALL schools need to take children through collective worship? Is that really true? I'm really surprised by that, unless it is a Christian-led school

Raaraathenoisybaby Sat 18-May-13 19:02:35

Yanbu. I want a secular education for my dc because I had one grin

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 19:02:39

so over 3 years at secondary you say you can't teach about 8 different aspects of ways of life?

and how do you know those people with prejudices and misinformation will be different if they don't learn about religions in infants and junior school - how do you know it would change how they think or view the world of religions?

ouryve Sat 18-May-13 19:05:37


Atheist family here. No objection whatsoever to my children learning about religions. It's not going to brainwash or indoctrinate them. We have a set of readers for DS1, a couple of which included stories with a religious and mythological element. Even at 5, despite them being quite good stories, he struggled with the whole magical, mystical idea of them and refused to give them a second read, even though he often picked others up for his bedtime reading.

Now, at 9, he categorically believes that all religion is a load of codswallop.

ouryve Sat 18-May-13 19:07:28

I do object to "collective worship" mind - particularly in non-denominational school, where it often ends up being a ridiculous mishmash which supports no one in their beliefs.

KingRollo Sat 18-May-13 19:07:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 19:10:54

Ivy - can you seriously not see how teaching children about religions and what others believe from a young age is possibly the best way to reduce religious discrimination and to encourage tolerance?

I think it's a bit like relationship and sex education. If you think it's important you actually have to start early from nursery or reception .... in gentle ways like learning about our 5 senses, and naming the obvious parts of the body,& practicising being assertive with our friends. In RE we might be making clay lamps for divali, or having our hand painted with a rangoli pattern (for Eid ?) It would be weird not to hear anything about religion and associated cultures until Y7 wouldn't it ivykaty ?

mumof4sons Sat 18-May-13 19:14:20

OP, I was a bit like you. I didn't want my DCs taught religion in school, but I had no choice, private schooling wasn't an option - my DCs had to go to the local CofE primary school. I was pleasantly surprised. (They were not preached at like I was growing up in a Southern Baptist part of the US, and my only point of reference with regard to church run schools.) The songs they sang at assemblies were not overly religious - I believe they were specially written song that weren't overtly religious. Assemblies were basically about how to be a good person (yes, mainly Christian views, but don't all religions want us to be nice to each other?) Yes, the children bowed their heads for a little prayer, but you can opt out of that part - the Muslim children in the school did.

Collective worship is a requirement in state secondary schools. It is based on mainly Christian values - again on vague topics like bullying, being nice to each other, not stressing during exams, etc. At the end of the assembly they are asked to sit quietly and reflect on what they have just heard and how they might be able to apply that message to their own lives.

Two of my DCs went to two different private secondary schools. One was made to take RE at GCSE, one not. One had assemblies as described above. One was made to go to chapel once a week - he didn't have to take GCSE RE.

My DCs are older now and all staunchly atheist - school did not turn them into religious nutters. I believe they have well rounded views of the religions of the world. At 20, 18, 15 and 13 they can hold competent and informed conversations about all the worlds major religions, much more so than the teenagers here in the US, who no nothing about any other religion other than Christianity or what they see on the news or tv about other religions, which we all know is not the best source of education.

Just to clarify, we were living in England when my older 3 DCs were/are in school.

Maybe it would be worth your while to attend some of the primary schools assemblies to see how they do their collective worship.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 19:20:00

It would be weird not to talk about it if you were making a lamp etc - but do you need then to have a whole lesson dedicated to it?

I can't see that teaching about religion is the best way to stop religious discrimination, I don't see it stopping and RE is a lesson at school for 11 years. Possibly you have evidence that it works?

KingRollo Sat 18-May-13 19:23:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 19:25:09

But if you don't have the lesson dedicated to it it is a meaningless activity.

I think looking at most rational adults and the fact they can see that an understanding of religions is a good thing shows that. Teaching about ALL religions in schools is a fairly new thing, so is the massively multicultural nature of this country - 3 or 4 generations back it was pretty much unheard of to have someone who wasn't christian living nearby in most areas of the country whereby now societies are much more 'mixed', schools are the ideal place to break down barriers between those religions and create an ethos of religious tolerance and for that to happen children have to understand the different religions even if its just "some children don't believe in christmas" and what they celebrate and how.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sat 18-May-13 19:32:24

"Why though is it felt so important to spend from primary school through junior school and then into secondary school to be learning about RE why not condense this to secondary?"

Primary school pupils don't really need to know much about anything. By that argument you could condense everything into secondary.

It is also harder to learn other things that come up in primary (WWII for example or the reformation or even Roman Britain and Ancient Greece) If you are absolutely clueless about religion.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 19:36:55

sirzy I am sorry but I don't agree that mentioning a fact about a pot you are making in art and giving a history or religious background of the pot would be meaningless.

Why though does it have to be done at a young age? Why do we need to teach young children about a lot of different religions in a dedicated lesson

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 19:39:56

Perhaps you could explain why it would be hard to learn about these other topics without learning about religion at junior school?

Yes Happy and I think the primary years need to be about developing a love of learning, and not too narrowly focused just on reading, writing, and maths. You can't develop a love of learning without exploring topics and learning about something - and I think RE should be a part of that.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 20:00:02

You really don't understand why we have to give children the skills and knowledge to respect and tolerate those who are different from a young age?

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sat 18-May-13 20:06:10

"Perhaps you could explain why it would be hard to learn about these other topics without learning about religion at junior school?"

Me? OK How do you effectively teach WWII without reference to the othering of the Jewish population in Europe. How do you do that without understanding what a Jewish person is, what Judaism is, How did the Jews differ from the Gen Pop, how were they identified, why didn't they simply deny they were Jewish, Could they have? What stories would those people have been brought up on, how did that contribute to the Jewish mentality. You would have to start from scratch. The covenant, the exodus, the splitting of the 12 tribes, David, Shadrach, Daniel, the crusaders who couldn't be arsed to ride to Jerusalem to murder Muslims, so murdered German Jews instead, the expulsion from Russia. Not all Y6 dcs will know that but most will have some sort of clue about some of it and at least they will what a Jewish person is and understand that it is a religion and understand what a religion is. You couldn't teach about the life of Ancient Romans and Greeks without some reference to their religious life. It would be tedious if very basic things had to be explained such as the purpose of a Temple. There will be bits and pieces in poetry that are meaningless if you are clueless about religion. eg Andrea Gibson's Jellyfish 'the levy broke a promise' is a reference to the promise made by God after the flood, broken by Katrina. If you didn't know that then you wouldn't know it and you wouldn't know you didn't know.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 20:07:37

you keep telling me that I must believe that giving lessons to children at an early age will give tolerance - but yet when I ask you to show me how or why this is fact you just repeat that it does, and tell me it is me that doesn't understand.

Well I am asking the questions so that I can understand but you are not answering the question of why or how this works and where is your evidence. I am happy to listen so to speak.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 20:10:39

Sorry Ivy you are being down right daft now.

If we don't teach children about religion from a young age how on earth do you think they will learn to tolerate difference in others? how will they understand the beliefs of others?

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 20:12:06

Ithinkwashappy - I never had a lesson dedicated to the Jewish religion at school but I still understood about the second world war and why the jews were persecuted. I would have though many other dc of my generation were also taught about the ww2 and understood the lessons without having had lessons on jews at junior school and many pupils were taught in this way

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sat 18-May-13 20:14:52

Did you not do any OT at all? Not even the flood? Daniel in the Lions den?Did you know that people have different faiths and what a faith is. Did you even do WWII in primary (I didn't, I'm 40)

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 20:16:12

No I am not being daft - sirzy I have asked for an explanation and to call someone daft as you refuse to give an explanation leads me to believe you don't have an explanation. You just think if you repeat often enough that that is the way it must be then that is correct - well i don't buy it.

Altinkum Sat 18-May-13 20:19:49

YABU, all children should be taught about most religions, to get to understand even a little about others faiths.

Without understanding, and knowledge, there will only be narrow mindedness and discrimatory attuides.

Sirzy Sat 18-May-13 20:19:53

People have given explanations Ivy but you are seemingly ignoring what is being said.

You started by suggesting that parents should teach religion not schools - then ignored people pointing out that parents aren't going to give a non biased education of ALL religions.

You seem to think that children can wait to be taught religion until they are at secondary school. Children don't live in some sort of bubble and are exposed to different religions and cultures from birth. Of course schools need to encourage understanding and tolerance and they can't do that without teaching the children these things.

I am not sure why you require research to understand these pretty basic concepts really! But if you do then I suggest you visit and there is plenty to be found!

deleted203 Sat 18-May-13 20:20:52

YABU to think you have any choice in opting out of the National Curriculum.

It doesn't matter whether you like it or not; all schools will teach RE and will have display boards with pupils' work showing what they have learned, I'm afraid.

I don't believe I've ever used Pythagoras' theory or needed to understand my logarithm tables since I left school - but I can't insist the Maths curriculum stops teaching my children them...

KingRollo Sat 18-May-13 20:24:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Altinkum Sat 18-May-13 20:25:04

If to tolerance is taught from pre school, ie, different hair colour, eye shape and size, skin, different culture, skin type, clothing etc... From a early age, then they will soon learn that what mum and dad says is only one/two opinions.

Dh family are racists, however because if school\uni, learning from a early age that people are different, come from a family of faith (me) then that means some of family members are racists and nothing more!

Altinkum Sat 18-May-13 20:27:54

R.EIS PART OF, the national curriculum however you can opt your children to opt out, so I assume you check your facts!!! .

MammaMedusa Sat 18-May-13 20:28:41

I went to school in a different country and was taught no RE and no Greek mythology.

When I first went around the National Gallery, it was like being illiterate. I didn't know what the vast majority of pictures were. What was all the bad stuff flying out of the box? Why was the sea divided in two?

I was actually an avid reader, and think I would have enjoyed the OT stories and Greek myths enormously. I educated myself on them as an adult, and a whole new world opened up. Suddenly, there were layers and layers to books and poems which I had never seen before. Asides in newspaper columns, quips on TV shows. It was like the world had been in black and white, and suddenly it was in colour.

Religion and religious stories form a huge part of cultural and literary heritage. Why would you want to handicap your child by preventing them from learning about it?

Altinkum Sat 18-May-13 20:30:33

RE is mandatory from primary 3, key stage 3.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 18-May-13 20:41:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KingRollo Sat 18-May-13 20:41:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pigsmummy Sat 18-May-13 20:46:16

Unless you educate your children in a tent in the garden and don't let them talk to anyone then I am sorry to say that your dc will encounter religion. Yabu

KingRollo Sat 18-May-13 20:56:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheHerringReturns has explained the value of RE and its place within the curriculum in the most intelligent and clear fashion.

Altinkum Sat 18-May-13 21:13:36

rolls eyes Semantics, so I will reword it, RE , may not be part of the national curriculum, however it is MANDATORY in all schools.

It is mandatory that children learn about all faiths and so it bloody well should be considering half the populations have some sort if religious faith I believe

Sorry - that should be TheHerringScreams and I should have been far less pompous and simply said she hit the nail right on the head.

Ivykaty - you ask how teaching about religion can promote tolerance - I would explain it this way. If you know the truth, the facts about a religion, you are far less likely to fall prey to what might be termed Daily Mail-esque scaremongering - that leads to fear and fear leads to hate.

The truth will set you free.

Pigsmummy Sat 18-May-13 21:22:38

KingRollo, he is 8 and is now going to ask questions about who Jesus is. If he doesn't get anwers at home then he will ask his peers/school/the cat. If he forgets about this now then he will be reminded at some point in the future and want to know more.

shallweshop Sat 18-May-13 21:25:24

YABU if you think learning about religion is not important! You do not have to be a religious person to accept this basic fact.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 21:27:12

So why in other countries where religion education is not taught in primary school do people tolerate other religions?

If the Uk model of teaching re in school from primary school is the way to achieve tolerance why do other countries where Re is not taught in school at all achieve this by other ways?

but again sirzy - you talk about basic concepts - but give no explanation of why religion should be taught in school at primary age but tell me to go to google, - well do please show me a page on google that states why religion taught at primary reduces discrimination.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 21:31:18

SDTG thank you for your answer, I think that is a very valid point ignorance breeds fear

MammaMedusa Sat 18-May-13 21:35:11

ivykaty44 - maybe they don't? Not everywhere is as tolerant of difference as here.

crashdoll Sat 18-May-13 21:36:46

YABU. You do not live in a vacuum, why would you want your child to grow up ignorant? By all means, pull your child out of saying prayers at the end of assembly but to deny them an education because of your anti-religious stance is silly. Learning that Jews do not eat bread for 8 days over passover because that's what Jewish people believe in will neither indoctrinate nor damage your child.

Athiests get so aggressive on these sorts of threads. Before I get accused of being a 'fairy believer', I don't know how I would label myself. I am very much on the fence but I've always been interested in learning about other religions and cultures. It helped me form my own opinions. Those of you who don't want your children to learn about religion are as bad as those who want their children to only learn religion. Give them the education and let them make up their own damn minds!

loopydoo Sat 18-May-13 21:37:47

I have been against the idea of any religious worship in any school for years, obviously with exception of teaching children about how other religions work.

Apart from that, I truly believe that school is not a place for worship....parents can teach their beliefs t home and in church if they want. As a child going to a C of E primary literally brainwashed me into believing it as gospel.....I didn't make my own mind up at all until I was an adult.

Morals and good behaviour can be taught without using any form of religion. The first British schools were started with mostly money from the Church and so that is why they carried on like that to today.

With govt. funding etc, there is now no need to be linked to the church.

Why can't the head teacher say something like "a good person" rather than "a good Christian"?

Phineyj Sat 18-May-13 21:39:58


There should be a proper secular option in the state school system. The weight given to RE in the school system is a historical anachronism, like the bishops in the House of Lords.

I can certainly see the value of studying RE from a social and ethical point of view and agree that much European art, music and literature doesn't make sense without knowledge of Christianity but can't see why it isn't incorporated into some form of general philosophical and ethical studies, at least at secondary level.

The RE GCSE course I used to teach is an uneasy mixture of Very Big Topics ('Why does God allow suffering?' 'How was the world created?') covered in a fairly superficial way, combined with "Christians believe this while Muslims believe this' stuff. I suspect a lot of students like it because if you are articulate and fond of stating your own opinion it is quite easy to get an A!

shallweshop Sat 18-May-13 21:41:56

Ivykaty - please can you tell us the countries whose people are tolerant of religion? Sounds a bit of a sweeping statement.

Icantstopeatinglol Sat 18-May-13 21:49:47

Can't decide if yabu or not?!
I'm definately an atheist but I think I'll leave it upto my dc to decide their own opinions. Ds is in reception and after Easter he is now convinced Jesus died on a crossbow lol! I have corrected him but he still thinks he's right. When he talks to me about any religious projects they're doing etc I talk to him like its a story not real as I don't think anyone can prove at all that its real. He was all caught up about how Jesus died for 'us' and I said 'yes it's a nice story isn't it'.
I myself would far more believe in the men in black theory before anything religious! : )

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 21:51:22

shallweshop - well other countries in Europe are as tolerant as the Uk of other religions yet they do not all teach about other religions in there primary schools. Is it a sweeping statement to say the Uk is tolerant of other religions

shallweshop Sat 18-May-13 22:00:44

Agree both are sweeping statements and would therefore not make them. However, I still feel that in order to understand the world around them, kids need to learn about different religions.

Actually, religion should be taught alongside mythology. Because the ancient Greek and Roman myth systems, along with the Norse and Celtic ones have just as much importance in terms of culture as the contemporary ones WRT literature, art, society etc. Not to have a basic knowledge of these is to be ignorant, too. Easy enough to start the classes with the information that different people believe different bits are true but hey kids, these are the effects these different myths have had.
Because, in a multicultural world, some of the kids in each class are going to have been taught at home that one of these sets of myths is actually true and the others aren't, and they need to be able to understand that other people are going to view the whole lot differently.

TBH I would like DS' school to get on with a bit of general religious education, so I don't have any more... incidents with him like the other week when he put his jumper on his head and capered about yelling, 'Look Mummy, I'm a Muslim.' We had a Little Talk all the way home about not taking the mickey out of what other people do and wear and think...

cherryade8 Sat 18-May-13 22:04:25

I think that it's impossible for RE to be taught at schools without bias. I know I had Christianity drilled into me at a supposedly moderate primary and secondary school when I was young. Conversely I know a devout Muslim RE teacher who has no time for Hinduism and Christianity, I can hardly see that he can teach 'neutrally'.

Also, I disagree with many of the principles in various religions, such as sexism in most (no female bishops, pope and cardinals men, burkas for women, anti contraception etc), plus sacrificing animals and other things I find offensive. My concern is that religion is thrust upon my child with no criticism given.

As I said in my op, I don't mind a brief overview being taught, but I object to brainwashing that all religious principles are decent and without critique. I'd say leave it out of the curriculum.

Iggi101 Sat 18-May-13 22:11:32

A critique of religion is part of the curriculum, OP.
I think you don't understand the realities of what you are criticising.

loopydoo Sat 18-May-13 22:12:48

It needs a whole lot of people to make a stand against and I just don't think (sadly) that it will ever happen.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 22:15:41

I think dc need to learn and explore a lot of things, what I question is if we need dc to have lessons dedicated to re at junior school and does it really really help stop discrimination? Or do people think it does and that was why I wanted to question.

yes I agree that ignorance breeds fear and that can turn to hate.

But do we really have to start teaching at 5 and not leave this till the dc are 11 and at secondary school? I am not convinced though could well swayed that there may be a reason

my dd has really enjoyed some of her RE lessons at secondary school but as with any lesson as soon as she got a teacher she wasn't keen on the lessons got boring, though the teacher thinks dd contributes very well and enjoys having her in class (or so she says) dd has to do Re for gcse in her school it is not a choice she can make to drop the subject

dd did a lot of learning about Islam but not in RE and I am sure it was in History?

SacreBlue Sat 18-May-13 22:16:21

Some of the posts contain sweeping statements about what is mandatory, what schools provide, what parents provide etc - I can only give my account of my family and the two schools we have been involved with so -

My DS primary was a very mixed and tolerant school until a new head took over. Up to that point the teachers covered many different religions and the associated ceremonies/festivals - something I and the families (at least the ones that expressed an opinion directly to me) loved about the school.

It indeed encouraged inclusivity and tolerance

The new head brought with him a huge focus on religion and not all religious, not even just Christianity, but a very narrow part of Christianity (he is from a very narrow, what I would term batshit sect) this included telling teachers to let unqualified church members in to take RE which became very much more instruction rather than studies or education including telling the children that those unbaptised would 'go to hell'

As my son was nearing leaving we expressed our disappointment as did many other families - going to LEA and even to ministerial level - but he stayed on for the last year while others moved school as I had sufficient time and resources to offer additional teaching at home.

Move to grammar. I asked to see their proposed curriculum for RE and despite being told he couldn't opt out unless Muslim or A.N.Other religion (misinformation easily debunked) I did pull him out of RE and substituted my own curriculum that covered many more religions and world views than their proposed one - lots of work but I believed it important enough to me and to his education to do so. (Btw he would have been stuck at back of classroom otherwise although a child of another religion was allowed to go to the library tsk!)

NI has particular issues concerning religion so I wouldn't have him devoid of learning and yes, perhaps I was better placed than many to give him such an in-depth and wide-ranging alternative curriculum (including exams), but I do not think it can be said of all schools that the RE lessons are unbiased. His deputy HT at grammar is also from a narrow 'sect' and used to be head of RE.

As stated upthread, asking questions about what will be taught, how and by whom wrt religion is a fair enough suggestion especially if you have the inkling that he may be being taught in a narrower way, more heavily weighted to one religion or strand. Then you can make up your mind as to pull the child out of collective worship or RE classes or both

I would suggest it is very much in your child's best interest to have some form of substitute teaching in RE though or you may leave them unprepared when faced with religion at a later date (fore warned is fore armed and all that)

crashdoll Sat 18-May-13 22:17:41

I will never agree to stand against educating children about religion. We are not tolerant enough of religions in this country, let's not breed more ignorance.

ivykaty44 Sat 18-May-13 22:27:35

crashdoll your post made me think of FGM where I think in the Uk we have been far to tolerant and turned a blind eye as it is illegal and yet no prosecutions have ever taken place in this country and nothing is done to prevent this happening.

So I don't think I agree with your statement that we are not tolerant enough in this country - I think we are very tolerant in this country and at time we must not be tolerant if what is happening is wrong and makes people suffer

loopydoo Sat 18-May-13 22:34:02

crashdoll' it's not about stopping educating. Children about religion, it's about teaching them that its all true and brainwashing them into a certain religion.

I totally agree that children should have RE and learn the views of other religions but not have daily worship in school and any one faith celebrated in a school.

KingRollo Sun 19-May-13 06:45:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cuillereasoupe Sun 19-May-13 07:07:24

YANBU. Other European countries manage perfectly well without it. If you really want to teach it, the basics could easily be covered in six weeks in history classes rather than being a whole subject in its own right, freeing up time for more useful stuff. Like MFL, as someone upthread suggested.

OrlaKiely Sun 19-May-13 08:38:44

Mine were/are being told constantly about God and Jesus and an awful lot of bible stories, as though they were fact.

It is a church-funded school though - just, the other schools are a bit shite. I now HE my younger one. I didn't like him being told about nails through hands, that kind of thing, it's all rather alarming - but that wasn't the main reason I took him out.

Just, I'm glad he's not being taught that any more. just my mother to contend with now (who won't say the words sex, or God, out loud, or watch anything where people say the word God.

SacreBlue Sun 19-May-13 08:57:48

king that is how religious education should be taught but as you can see from my post that is not always the case

It is very much dependent on the teacher and the culture within the school. When RE was being taught neutrally and inclusive of many forms I was more than happy for my DS to be in that class/school. It is only when it is high jacked by an over zealously religious teacher that it moves into more dodgy ground.

In our primary indoctrination is precisely the word used by parents to object to the massive change in teaching methods and content of RE lessons.

In my DS grammar the actual teachers in the classroom were not neutral but did encourage debate so I don't equate that as indoctrination but combined with the curriculum for the the RE classes it does have a clear basis not just to Christianity but to to one strand of Christianity and that to me is not acceptable.

Iggi101 Sun 19-May-13 09:15:58

I do think N.Ireland is a particular case though, with it being viewed for so long as unimaginable to educate protestant and catholic children together. It will take re a while to catch up (so to speak) with rest of UK.
Ime primary schools are bigger on teaching it as if everyone is Christian than secondary schools, but this may well be to do with fact that secondary re teachers are specialists.

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 09:52:00

"It's been shown that the brain invents religion at an early age"

Err... Mine didn't. And neither did the brains of all those atheists you see around you, who have never believed in any of those stories.

Would you say that atheists' brains are not normal? Do we need to be... adjusted?

"Explaining death to a toddler without a heaven is a hard job, and leaves very little comfort for the child"

Not in my experience. Children are smart and they are resilient. There is no need to lie to them invent fairy stories. You just need to explain things with age-appropriate terms and be open to all questions.

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 10:01:17

I have a question: At which age does RE start in the UK?

crashdoll Sun 19-May-13 10:05:29

"crashdoll your post made me think of FGM where I think in the Uk we have been far to tolerant and turned a blind eye as it is illegal and yet no prosecutions have ever taken place in this country and nothing is done to prevent this happening."

That comparison was OTT and verging on a bit gross.

Hi Cote - there are several parts of the EYFS (early years foundation stage) curriculum that cover aspects of RE. This is used and required from at least 3 and possibly from birth in all nurseries and pre-schools and also in reception classes. It also covers care from birth by child-minders and nurseries. But I'd say from about 2 or 3 early years providers would need to show that they were exploring aspects of community, such as the celebration of festivals, particularly those relevant to any of the children's home lives, and also, under personal and social education, aspects of morality, such as being kind to others, and telling the truth. Some of the main stories from the faith communities would probably start coming in more from reception onwards, and though interesting can be quite a challenge for both children and staff I think smile
Plenty of things to start thinking about here with 2 and 3 year olds I think.

Iggi101 Sun 19-May-13 10:26:06

Cote in Scotland the curriculum begins at 3, so all areas start to be covered then. In re terms that would be a bit about values and sharing, for example, with maybe making decorations for Chinese new year. (From my experience of dc at nursery)

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 10:33:10

Thanks, Juggling. I was trying to figure out why people are comparing RE to History etc.

When religion is taught at the age of 3, I agree with those who say that it is indoctrination. There is no way for a 3 year old to understand the difference between religion and everything else he is learning from adults that he doesn't question.

RE should be left to an age when children can reason, debate, and decide for themselves what sounds plausible and what doesn't, imho.

ivykaty44 Sun 19-May-13 10:40:09

crashdoll - it wasn't a comparison - your post made me think do we tolerate and sometime I think we tolerate to much and that is detrimental to some people. As for it being gross yes it is to my mind awful and far worse than gross

ivykaty44 Sun 19-May-13 10:42:31

KingRollo see post @
Sat 18-May-13 18:54:18 for the answer to your question

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 10:43:55

X-post Iggy.

DS is 4 and goes to a secular pre-school. At Christmas, they sing songs about how Santa brings gifts and comes down the chimney.

DD is almost 8 and in a primary school where there is 1 hour per week of RE that is focused entirely on Catholicism that would lead to her confirmation in a catholic church next year in a white dress if I didn't take her out of it.

Several months ago, DD asked me if I believe God exists. That was the first time the word "God" was mentioned between us. I didn't answer but turned the question to her instead: "What do you think, DD?". She said "I don't think so, because..." and started explaining. She could have also said "I think so, because...". Then we had a conversation about the different things people believe in different parts of the world.

That is how you let DC make their own minds about these things, imho. Not through being taught by authority figures in their lives (teachers & parents) about one religion or another, or even all of them, at an age when they will just take it all in as fact.

I really don't think DC have suffered by not knowing about the Chinese New Year until now, either, imho.

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 10:44:47

Oh and seeing how absolute DC's belief in Santa is, I shudder to think how devout they would have been if their preschool taught religion smile

SuffolkNWhat Sun 19-May-13 10:46:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I do think children at 3 get a lot out of exploring aspects of the festivals of their and their friends' faith communities. Things like having a Chinese dance troupe come in and help them celebrate Chinese New Year with a noisy lion dance - where they maybe make a lion costume out of cardboard boxes, and make their own drums to join in with frightening the "old" lion away. Or making little "diva" lamps for Divali, especially as part of the autumn "festivals of light", which can provide some common ground between the different autumn festivals of different communities.

As I said I think 3 year olds can gain a lot from these activities, mainly just because they are interesting, and it's good to start young with learning about something completely new ! Also it's good to engage with other communities around you, and great to get involved in active ways with some fantastic, ancient stories.

Cerisier Sun 19-May-13 11:02:16

My DCs are in an international school where no religion is allowed in assemblies. RE is taught briefly as part of the PSHCE rotation, the students get about 6 lessons.

Religion is left up to parents- which is exactly how it should be in my mind. I am with SGB in that I think no children should be indoctrinated.

The school manages to teach GCSE, IB and A level history perfectly adequately without the children having been taught RE.

I managed to explain death perfectly well to DS when his granddad died a couple of years ago, without falling back on 'gone to heaven' or any other nonsense. DS understands that the energy that was Granddad is still here in a different form.

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 11:13:46

When my GM died, I explained it to DD with the analogy of the flowers we put in a vase. How they grow old and die and that is how life is. She was perfectly fine with it.

Then my mum tried to work on her with "She is now a star up in the sky" etc, to which DD apparently replied "I don't think so. That is not how stars are formed" and launched into an explanation of hot balls of gas that lasted until my mum's ears fell off grin

Apparently though, according to the great introductory exhibit at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (recommended BTW) "we are all made of star dust" - I guess certain vital elements that make up our bodies were formed in the heart of stars many, many, miles from Earth smile
Love your dd's response to her granny though Cote !

loopydoo Sun 19-May-13 13:48:52

juggling I love that we are all made of star dust thing!!!!

So I guess Cote's dd could have said ... it's not so much that she's a star now granny, more that she always was, just like we are smile
(or something along those lines)

FreyaSnow Sun 19-May-13 14:28:11

YANBU OP. People are religious because religion provides them with a mythic structure, morality, a cultural context and an understanding of spirituality. As most children in this country are not religious, as a society we should be giving them more educational opportunities around mythic structure, morality, a cultural context and spirituality. Instead we teach them RE which essentially makes them spectators of the experiences of a minority of people of people in the UK rather than giving them opportunities to have more of an understanding of their own experiences.

I absolutely support teaching children about minority groups, but the experiences of religious people do not deserve a whole subject in the curriculum. We could just as easily do a whole subject throughout school on gender, race, disability or sexual orientation. The justification that RE teaches these things so is worthwhile is a nonsense. The focus of RE is not history, geography, history of art, social diversity and equality or human rights; it is religious belief. It simply mentions these other things in passing. It is the equivalent of me teaching school children sexual orientation for ten years and then saying, 'oh, but we do cover religion. As part of our sexual orientation course, we teach in year seven sexual orientation activism groups' perspective on whether religion is immoral or not. We're not teaching prejudice against religious people; we're teaching children to debate about whether or not practising religion is an immoral act.'

Religion has a position of privilege in the curriculum which it does not deserve.

Blu Sun 19-May-13 14:33:23

I'm not French, but I'm pleased my DS is learning French in school....

I am a card-carrying atheist and abhor compulsory worship in schools and many other things. However, to know nothing about the cultural and philosophical beliefs so intertwined with religious beliefs leaves you pretty ignorant in art, literature, politics, anthropology, history, and many other subjects.

AmberSocks Sun 19-May-13 14:40:50

I was worried about religion in schools but luckily my son isnt the type to be bullshitted about anything and says its all just a story,and he hates when they have to go to church he thinks its boring.

AmberSocks Sun 19-May-13 14:42:53

and they also say the same about father christmas,weve never really done it,but never said hes not real,they just decided that its just a story,and that is at age 3,4 and 5!

FreyaSnow Sun 19-May-13 14:47:28

Blu, your children aren't taught more French than English in school though. Children are taught more about many aspects of religious culture than they are of their own culture. I agree that children shouldn't be ignorant of anthropology; it would be an excellent replacement for RE.

Blu Sun 19-May-13 14:58:09

I would have the whole subject re-named 'Philosophy, ethics and beliefs', I think.

Actually, I think the curriculum does cover 'their own culture' more than others - again, across the whole curriculum. The war, the industrial revolution, the agricultural revolution - all having an immense impact on the patterns of life and culture in this country - including beliefs about men and women, religion, class, the value of human beings etc.

I was rolling my eyes by the third time they covered Diwali in primary school..but now in secondary, DS's RE homework includes discussion topics on the difference between how a humanist / atheiest would view different situations and a member of a particular religion - over morality, death, leadership, where influence comes from etc etc, so secular morals and beliefs are covered alongside others.

thegreylady Sun 19-May-13 15:01:41

Cote it would be her first Communion at 8.Confirmation comes much later in RC Church.

Bunbaker Sun 19-May-13 15:06:50

"I think that it's impossible for RE to be taught at schools without bias. I know I had Christianity drilled into me at a supposedly moderate primary and secondary school when I was young. Conversely I know a devout Muslim RE teacher who has no time for Hinduism and Christianity, I can hardly see that he can teach 'neutrally'.

Also, I disagree with many of the principles in various religions, such as sexism in most (no female bishops, pope and cardinals men, burkas for women, anti contraception etc), plus sacrificing animals and other things I find offensive. My concern is that religion is thrust upon my child with no criticism given.

As I said in my op, I don't mind a brief overview being taught, but I object to brainwashing that all religious principles are decent and without critique. I'd say leave it out of the curriculum."

You seem to have a lot of preconceived assumptions about how religion is taught in schools. DD is 12 and is at high school, they have assembly, but they don't have religious assemblies. There is no Christian bias at her high school and she has one hour of RE a fortnight. I would hardly call that overkill.

I expect that the way religion is taught has changed a lot since you were at school.

As for many practices of various religions I doubt that the teacher will condone them, they will just be taught as "this is what they do". I don't agree with some of the practices especially the more barbaric ones like circumcision for example, but I am not going to prevent my daughter from learning about it because I think she needs to know. Plus she is quite capable of deciding for herself that it is a horrible practice.

You can ask for your children to be pulled out of assembly at primary school, I am sure they won't be the only ones. And can I suggest you talk to the schools you are interested in and ask about how they teach religion. It strikes me that you are slightly afraid that your children are going to be brainwashed into joining a cult.

I also think that leaving RE out of the curriculum is very short sighted and bigoted. Learning about other religions helps us understand about so many customs and teaches religious tolerance.

Sorry, but I think YABU and haven't thought it through properly.

FreyaSnow Sun 19-May-13 15:12:07

There are numerous topics my children have only covered in school from a religious perspective. There are whole countries they have only discussed in RE in terms of religion and have never studied in any other subject. They have learned a lot about religious views on karma and disability but have had no secular teaching on disability whatsoever. That time could could have been more suitably used teaching children about secular deaf culture, how sign language is used creatively by deaf people, or about aspects of autism or people who are blind - their historical contribution, current culture, fight for rights, and so on. But to do that we'd have to believe that disability is as important in diversity as religion is.

Those are just a couple of examples of many things that are largely secular and schools can have claimed to have taught through RE, when the religious perspective on them is a tiny, fairly irrelevant part of the overall cultural topic. Adding together the time spent on RE and PSHE would give schools a big chunk of time to teach some kind of social studies course which dealt with human rights and diversity, philosophy and anthropology.

Iggi101 Sun 19-May-13 15:32:27

The focus of RE is not history, geography, history of art, social diversity and equality or human rights; it is religious belief. It simply mentions these other things in passing
Not true.
Where do you live, FreyaSnow? I'd imagine there are enough RME teachers on mumsnet that one could invite you to come and observe a few lessons/read their course outlines.

Bunbaker Sun 19-May-13 15:45:04

Some of the subjects in Freya's post are covered in Citizenship. DD has Citizenship once a fortnight and RE once a fortnight - hardly overkill.

Decoy Sun 19-May-13 16:07:43

The word "indoctrination" is way over the top. If school R.E. lessons were "indoctrinating" anyone, then why aren't all adults believers?

The word "indoctrination" is way over the top. For RE lessons, absolutely. For broadly Christian compulsory worship in all schools, that is exactly the word.

Decoy Sun 19-May-13 16:25:34

Indoctrination implies that you're not able to question or examine what is presented. With the exception of a few very strictly religious schools, that's not the case at all.

I'm sure most of us here went to assemblies as children, but somehow we've escaped with our questionning abilities intact instead of becoming fundamentalist automatons grin

How is a child in assembly going to question what is being said? Stand up and shout questions at the teacher? You can ask questions in RE class, you are expected to critically evaluate things. That is just not the case when you are in a religious assembly.

pigletmania Sun 19-May-13 16:42:25

Yabvvvu even though you don't believe in religion, it's a big part of society, and influences many things. You are never going to find a school which does not teach it. Knowledge is power, do you wan your dd to be ignorant of the different members of society and ther beliefs and culture, some of which are heavily influenced by religion. You cannt keep her in a cocoon sorry!

FreyaSnow Sun 19-May-13 17:17:04

Iggi, I don't need to see how it is taught; I have two children studying RE in secondary school. I know the syllabus. The focus of RE is religious education; that is why it is called religious education. It is hardly controversial to say so.

Bunbaker, my children at different schools do two hours of RE a week and one hour of PSHE a week. PSHE has to cover every type of diversity (the other 4 main strands - race, disability, gender and sexual orientation) other than religion. There is no explanation from anyone on here as to why religious belief should get its own subject when every other element of legally protected human diversity does not. Race includes nationality and ethnic and cultural identity and origin, which is surely as important to know as religion, yet it doesn't have its own subject.

Other topics like politics, philosophy, sociology and anthropology do not have their own subject and also get crammed into PSHE along with all the other stuff PSHE has to cover like mental health, environmental responsibility, budgeting, drugs, alcohol and so on.

What is it about religion that makes it more important than disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, sociology (so the study of the whole of industrialised society), anthropology (so the study of cultures), philosophy or politics? Why are all these subjects attached on to PSHE, geography etc and yet RE has a whole subject to itself? Why is RE more important? Why can't it be attached on to geography, history, art etc where relevant?

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 17:31:37

"If school R.E. lessons were "indoctrinating" anyone, then why aren't all adults believers?"

Most adults are believers. Clearly the indoctrination doesn't take on everyone, and some of the rest grow out of it.

Ask any child, though, and the vast majority will say that of course they believe in God. They have been told the stories as fact and they have never thought to question them.

What would you call that if not indoctrination?

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 17:33:10

"Indoctrination implies that you're not able to question or examine what is presented"

That sounds exactly like religious education at the age of 3.

Iggi101 Sun 19-May-13 17:42:53

Freya I often forget most people on mumsnet are English.
In Scotland subject is called RMPS (rel, moral and philosophical studies) which reflects what is actually taught.

KingRollo Sun 19-May-13 18:39:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CoteDAzur Sun 19-May-13 18:56:01

Look up the statistics, KingRollo.

FreyaSnow Sun 19-May-13 19:02:01

Iggi, every time I read anything about the Scottish education system I regret that we did not move to Scotland, when we had the opportunity, when my eldest was about to start school.

Bunbaker Sun 19-May-13 20:24:21

"my children at different schools do two hours of RE a week and one hour of PSHE a week"

What years are they in? DD is in year 8 and I am puzzled why they get four times the number of RE lessons that DD does. RE isn't given a higher status than Citizenship at DD's school. Having said that I believe that RE is considered a more academic subject than Citizenship which is thought of as a soft option at GCSE level.

Those of you who don't want their children exposed to any sort of religious education at school - what are you afraid of? If your children decide to becomes Christians/Buddhists/Hindus/Muslims, what is the worst that could happen? In the grand scheme of things does it really matter?

Wuldric Sun 19-May-13 20:29:14

I am a card carrying atheist, and to me, studying religion is akin to studying witchcraft, tableturning and other such superstitions. Nevertheless, a huge number of the population actually believe in different flavours of this stuff, and it's interesting to understand where they are coming from. Think of it as history.

SuffolkNWhat Sun 19-May-13 20:31:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bunbaker Sun 19-May-13 21:14:07

I have just lifted this from DD's school website

"RE is a compulsory subject which, at key stage 3, includes the study of beliefs and the influences on individual’s lives plus a study of some of the religions which play a role in the lives of people living in Britain today. We study Christianity, Judaism and Islam in years 7-8. From September 2012 year 9 students will look at contemporary issues such as Prejudice, Crime and punishment and Care for the world from the viewpoint of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
At key stage 4 all pupils are entered for the short course GCSE which includes topics such as Family life, Social Cohesion and Life and death issues as well as a unit asking why people do or don’t believe in the existence of God. These issues are studied from the viewpoint of Christianity and Judaism."

cuillereasoupe Sun 19-May-13 21:22:47

Knowledge is power, do you wan your dd to be ignorant of the different members of society and ther beliefs and culture, some of which are heavily influenced by religion.

So how do vast quantities of children on the continent reach competent, tolerant adulthood without it?

Good post Freya.

When you think about it there are lots of interesting subjects almost completely squeezed out of the curriculum, so RE does seem very generously provided for, especially without more obviously including morality and philosophy as appears to be the case in Scotland.

I always thought anthropology sounded interesting.

cuillereasoupe Sun 19-May-13 21:29:30

Yep, I agree with Freya too.

semplew123 Wed 23-Apr-14 04:23:38

Poor for whom? Not learning something more engaging would make children much poorer, I can assure you. Religion won't get children anywhere - but Maths, English, Science, IT, Physical Education etc. will. These teach children both life skills and help introduce them into improving the human condition. Engineering, Science and Medicine are all very important areas - ones which are "actually" are proven to assist us in life.

Delphiniumsblue Wed 23-Apr-14 06:40:01

This thread is almost a year old- why not start your own, semplew?
Children can't understand much without learning about religion - a lot of history, current affairs, art and literature would be a mystery to them.

Lncmummy1 Fri 11-Jul-14 20:50:01

Acually u have it a bit wrong it's not all Muslims are terrorist but all terrorists are Muslim sorry to get involved but just fort u should all get facts straight

Lncmummy1 Fri 11-Jul-14 20:55:02

The thing is with religion it's what YOU choose to believe how can a 5 year old plus make that decision correctly. Take Christian religion most of they have had to revoke because of science e.g eve eating the apple caused her to har periods. Yet they still tell the story religion is a joke we live in modern times with science now teach more science get rid of religion. Science is more believable and honesty what would you prefer as a mum n dad a scientist of a priest think

Rainbunny Fri 11-Jul-14 21:12:47

Well I have no religious beliefs but I think it is important to gain knowledge about different religions. Religion, for good or for bad has been one of the most significant parts of human civilization. As a subject I think of it as complimentary to history, philosophy and anthropology. I am happier to be an atheist in a place of knowledge concerning religion, not an atheist and ignorant of religion.

Igggi Fri 11-Jul-14 21:15:37

I remember this thread the first time round!
The last few posts suggest a good grounding in critical thinking (supported by most RS courses) would be of great benefit to some of you.

Igggi Fri 11-Jul-14 21:16:36

Should say "some" posts, obviously!

You reanimated and old thread to write, Acually u have it a bit wrong it's not all Muslims are terrorist but all terrorists are Muslim sorry to get involved but just fort u should all get facts straight

Facts? I will write to the IRA and let them know that they are officially Muslim now.

Anyhow, I liked this thread the first time now so I shouldn't complain.

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