feels like my son is being punished for our religious stance

(38 Posts)
LiloLils Tue 09-Apr-13 03:48:19

...this is a bold statement but its how I feel.

There isn't any point to my post but the subject is keeping me awake so thought it might help to write it down on a public forum and see if I'm not the only one who is saddened by this.

Basically my DH and I are non religious. I was brought up catholic and he was brought up church of England but somewhere along the line we both lost our faith and sided with reason. Myself particularly...I have a bit of a problem with organised religion. there are personal reasons for this.

Long story short. If we stick to our guns and don't get our boy christened into either Catholicism or church of England, he is going to have to attend the worst school in the borough.

It just really angers me. Why in this day and age do we have to jump through hoops, lie about our beliefs, and subject our children to learning fairy tales as fact, in order to get them into a "good" school?

I have never been so torn about a decision in my life. I'm being pressured by family and friends to get him christened just to get him into a good school. They make me feel guilty by saying things like "do it for your child. I'd do anything for my child...wouldn't you?" It just feels all wrong.

nailak Tue 09-Apr-13 04:02:51


LittleFeileFooFoo Tue 09-Apr-13 04:08:26

how old is your son?

sashh Tue 09-Apr-13 04:43:44

It angers me too, I'm angry that my taxes are spent on faith schools.

Stick to your guns, if the only 'good' schools are faith schools your son is better off in the worst school.

If more parents did this then the faith schools would stop being the 'good' schools. They are only good because they cream off the kids whose parents take an interest and will jump through hoops.

Yes, this is infuriating.

I am angry that I have to make the choice between singling my daughter out by excluding her from collective worship, or let her pray to a god I dont believe in.

Religion should be within the home, it should be personal. How can they teach the FACTS of Evolution theory or the Big Bang and then go to collective worship?

I am not against anyone who goes to church, DD1 has been with her GPs, but that was my choice to let her. I like the community aspect. But to have no real choice in school is ridiculous.

When its impacting on your childs quality of education, like the OP, its really not on anymore.

Oopla Tue 09-Apr-13 07:28:45

Understand what you're saying. It seems unfair.

Fwiw I moved my dd to a 'good' faith school thinking she'd have a better chance but the sheer amount of religion that was brought out in every single lesson shocked me. I'm talking Jesus in mathematics and colouring in sheets depicting biblical scenes during wet playtimes. (We moved her back out again)

If it isn't right for you and your husband then would it be fair to ask your son to go along with it.

It sounds as if it is the organised religion bit that is the problem. So if this is causing you so much distress that you are loosing sleep then do something about it and maybe go and talk to the local minister. You can't change the admission criteria of the local schools and even if you move (unless you go the France) you are still faced with the requirement for a daily act of worship of a broadly Christian character and RE in the curriculum.

I realise that there is a lot of anger and frustration in the OP and it feels good to get it out but it isn't a long term solution.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Tue 09-Apr-13 09:58:05

This sounds like a horrible situation to be in. Just curious about your home though, firstly, I don't want to presume anything, but when you moved to where you are currently living, did you consider the school options (this is of course if you had any kind of choice about where you live, I know not everyone does)?

My DS is just 2 and will be going to nursery in September. The nursery happens to be at the local Methodist church which I'm not massively keen on, but I don't really have a choice in that one. Fortunately, the actual schools around me are secular so shouldn't be an issue.

Personally I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation though. I certainly would be avoiding the faith schools, so I guess it's either go to the bad school, try to get into a school out of your catchment (which I know is virtually impossible) or move.

Perhaps it's worth investigating what's so bad about the bad school. Is it simply that the faith schools have managed to nab the brighter children and the bad school is just full of the other kids? Some children will cope regardless so is there anyone you can talk to who's had a successful educational experience at the bad school who could ease your worries?

niminypiminy Tue 09-Apr-13 10:50:41

I'm a Christian, and my children go to their local school, which happens to be 'the worst' in the city I live in. It's not a faith school.

I'd say three things.

The first is that my children are thriving at their 'worst' school, they are happy and doing well academically. And -- regardless of what ofsted and popular rumour says -- it's great. When the time comes for you to look for a school for your child, there is no substitute for finding out for yourself. And things can change very quickly.

Secondly, all schools have to have worship of a broadly Christian character and RE, so iif organised religion is really very problematic for you, you would have to consider withdrawing your child from those aspects of school life (as is your right to do).

Thirdly, make sure you are gunning for the right target. The problem is not 'faith schools' per se but the idea that parents should choose. If parents choose, a combination of rational choice and herd instinct will lead them to choose the same schools, which will then be oversubsribed ... and then the schools will have to choose. What 'parental choice' leads to is ultimately a form of selection by the school. Many CofE schools seem to be better (because they have better results, largely because of a more middle class intake), but this may well be more to do with the fact that they are chosen by middle class parents who want their children to get good results. And because their are more children being applied for than there are places, then the school has to apply a selection criterion, and, in the case of 'faith schools', that can be that you practice the faith of the school's sponsoring church. Ultimately the problem is not the faith as such, but the idea of a market in education driven by parental choice.

niminypiminy Tue 09-Apr-13 10:51:52

(urk, sorry, 'there' not 'their'

hedgefund Tue 09-Apr-13 10:54:00

i love the way people just say 'move' is the school really that bad? round here the local school is looked down up as it's the ONLY one that is non-selective, all inclusive so has children with all abilities/religions and ethics. My son goes there and loves it. the culture of choice of schooling has made parents ultra terrified of the system in this country.

imo though religion has nothing to do with education and just segrates communities.

LizzyDay Tue 09-Apr-13 15:10:49

Sympathies LiloLils - the fact is that the current system does mean that religious discrimination exists in what is supposed to be an egalitarian state system. In a way that would be considered outrageous if it existed in the NHS, for example.

I think oversubscribed state schools should use discrimination by catchment area ONLY - no system is perfect but at least it's better for the environment and promotes local community cohesion.

Gales Tue 09-Apr-13 15:31:33

If you feel that strongly against religion, I can't for the life of me think why you'd want your child to go to a church school no matter how good it is. The matter of having him christened is tiny compared to having him "exposed" at a church school.

FWIW I think the main reason one school is better than another is the relative quality of the home lives the children have. You never get a great school in a poor area (unless someone can tell me the exception that proves the rule?)

IMO church schools do well because the families tend to have strong family values and good discipline at home, making them better behaved at school and therefore better able to learn. Obviously not all, but a greater proportion than at your average "poor" school.

It's not that the only good school is the church school, it's that the school, is good because it's a church school.

We are not a religious family and my DC don't go to a church school, but that's the way I see it.

crescentmoon Tue 09-Apr-13 15:36:58

"IMO church schools do well because the families tend to have strong family values and good discipline at home"

thats interesting - is there no value added by attending the church school itself? how does it compare to going to a private school/ grammer school?

LizzyDay Tue 09-Apr-13 15:41:16

Gales - do you really think it's the case that religious families have a monopoly on caring about their kids and bringing them up well?

I also don't think that teachers at a faith school are any more likely to be good teachers because of their 'faith ethos' - why should they be? Obviously faith schools would have you believe that, but it's simply not true.

Gales Tue 09-Apr-13 15:50:52

Same thing exactly crescent IMO. By taking either of those avenues you're just making sure your children go to school with families who are more interested in their children's schooling than "average"

No, I don't Lizzy, I do think there are a higher proportion than in "poor" schools.

I don't think teachers at any "good" school are necessarily any better than those at "poor" school. They just have the good fortune, or foresight to work in areas with better families - on average.

What a snobby thing to say.

FWIW - you can opt out of the daily worship and other organised religious activities at primary and secondary level. For example assemblies, carol services etc. However I don't think you are able to opt our of RE as this is educative and supposed to cover all religions.

As for schooling - can you look at schooling you DC out of the borough - I don't know where you are based, but you technically have a choice of school - could you try and get them into somewhere which they can get transport to?

failing that - what about a scholarship to a private school? or possibly a state boarding school?

Gales Tue 09-Apr-13 16:06:56

Maybe so wanna, but having worked in schools for a long time, I can absolutely say that the one thing that makes a huge difference to the culture in a school (far more than a great head) is the "type" of people who send their children there, the values they hold and the kind of behaviour that's expected from those children at hope

And that "type" is defined by money?

Sorry, posted to soon.

And that "type" is defined by money? Or religion? Or class?

I think that "good" teachers are those who get good results out of difficult situations. Not teachers who have well behaved children handed to them.

Gales Tue 09-Apr-13 16:24:40

No wanna, where did I refer to money? It's about values.

LizzyDay Tue 09-Apr-13 16:42:19

Gales - I disagree that your average 'nice' middle class family are more likely to be churchgoers / religious.

As niminypiminy said, the 'better' parents ARE more likely however to be the ones who bother to jump through hoops to get to the more popular schools, whether they (or the schools) are religious or not.

Blu Tue 09-Apr-13 16:43:08

There are loads of very good schools In my area of London that have very high FSM ratios. True there were a couple of v chaotic families in DS class whose results brought the average stats down. But as a good school they invested in lots of support (as well as enrichment activity) and able kids from all backgrounds did extremely well.

People with an objection to state funded religious selection should write to their MP. Otherwise write to your MP. About genuinely underperforming community schools and consider becoming a governor.

Gales Tue 09-Apr-13 16:51:41

I never said nice middle class families are likely to be church goers church goers. I said church goers (or those who want a church school) are more likely to have strong family values and good discipline at home. Obviously not exclusively, but more so than your average poorly performing school.

There is a link between home and school performance. Children who are getting good support at home may do well in decent school that has good teachers, but lots of challenging students, but overall the school's results and therefore the perception of whether it is a "good" school will be poor.

Wanna, I agree with you about good teachers, but IME most of the schools considered to be good are the ones where well behaved children are handed to them. Also where there is lots of parental support and tutoring going on.

Blu Tue 09-Apr-13 22:49:00

And thereby lies the frequent difference between a school which is actually good and a school considered to be good.

crescentmoon Wed 10-Apr-13 08:27:11

"most of the schools considered to be good are the ones where well behaved children are handed to them"

i very much agree with you on that. i went to grammar school for secondary and it had fantastic results each year not because the teachers were anything exceptional - pretty average - but the students and their families were themselves highly motivated towards academic success. the competitive environment overcompensated hugely for crap teachers.

i always thought though that the good results of christian schools was to do with the strictness of christian schools? so less time spent on behaviour management and more time on learning?

"But as a good school they invested in lots of support (as well as enrichment activity) and able kids from all backgrounds did extremely well."

do church schools have more money then to invest in enrichment? i know you were talking about a state school there blu but im just wondering if they get funding from both the government and the .. um. diocese is that the word?

JakeBullet Wed 10-Apr-13 08:35:37

OP have you checked out the OFSTED report for the school your DS will attend? There are big changes and it's no longer good enough for a school to score "satisfactory"...they have to be achieving "Good" or "Outstanding" and as such I think there are going to be improvements in all schools.

It IS hard, was just on another thread where the OP is considering moving and renting for a year just to get her DD a place at a good school. She is being roundly condemned for this but it is easy to judge if the local schools around other people are good and they have choice.

LiloLils Wed 10-Apr-13 09:08:07

Sorry for lack of response on my part. I've been reading with interest but I'm unwell so haven't replied. Thanks all for replying. It's giving me food for thought.

The school is graded a 3 in the ofsted report...

specialsubject Wed 10-Apr-13 10:13:55

" I said church goers (or those who want a church school) are more likely to have strong family values and good discipline at home"

so those who don't spend time with fairy stories are more likely to be feckless individuals with kids running riot?

seeker Wed 10-Apr-13 10:20:15

Oversubscribed faith schools are selective. Any selective school gets better results than a non selective school, regardless of the selection criteria.

Faith schools which are not oversubscribed do no better than a non faith school in a similar catchment.

LizzyDay Wed 10-Apr-13 11:31:30

It might be that religious families tend to have better-behaved children than badly-behaved children (to make a gross categorisation).

But it doesn't therefore follow that non-religious families will tend to have badly-behaved children, does it? The thing about faith schools being 'good' because of their 'ethos' makes me angry.

Also, on another point, I would bet that there are more faith school places than there are genuinely religious families. So the other places are taken by people playing the game, or by those who happen to fulfil the criteria (baptism etc) but actually aren't that bothered about the faith element in schooling, they are just happy that their children qualify to get into one of the better schools in the area in an 'I'm all right Jack' kind of way.

mummytime Wed 10-Apr-13 11:45:47

Lots of faith schools, especially C of E ones, are full of non-C of E families. Its only in places like London where they enforce/try to enforce such strict criteria.
However if parents have to jump through hoops to get their kids in, then they are likely to be more "involved" parents once their kids are there.

There are also Faith schools which are not desirable; in the town I live no-one from my children's C of E school applied to the local C of E secondary (some do go regularly to the Catholic one though).
In my LA, the school which pretty much no-one wants their child to go to is C of E.

LizzyDay Wed 10-Apr-13 11:51:08

I also bet that organised religion (to put it broadly and crudely) is rubbing collective hands in glee about the fact that a shortage of school places gives them the opportunity to practically force bums back onto pews (which otherwise would not be there).

backonlybriefly99 Wed 10-Apr-13 13:33:37

LiloLils, mostly it's not the school, but the child that matters. If you send him to the non-religious school and give him your support he will be fine. The fact that you are agonising over it means that you are a parent who cares and that is the the magic ingredient, not the school.

You will also be in a better position with his teachers than at a religious school where you may always be an outsider.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Wed 10-Apr-13 19:11:33

Lots of faith schools, especially C of E ones, are full of non-C of E families. Its only in places like London where they enforce/try to enforce such strict criteria.

Not entirely true, they do it where I am too and I'm nowhere near London.

technodad Wed 10-Apr-13 22:36:22

I really feel for you, and this situation makes me massively angry. My DC go to a non-selective local C of E school, but we would much rather that they went to a non-faith school, but there are none locally. However, your situation is much worse.

If I were you I would be very very angry, but personally I wouldn't compromise and get my DC christened because I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Not an easy decision though. And the only solution is to make all our state schools secular. Sadly this is very unlikely at the moment!

You want the best for your kids, and the only way you can achieve it is to compromise on your values. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't (but I suppose you will only be damned by other people's imaginary friends and not by anything real). grin

seeker Thu 11-Apr-13 08:58:51

"Lots of faith schools, especially C of E ones, are full of non-C of E families. Its only in places like London where they enforce/try to enforce such strict criteria."

That is not true. They enforce them anywhere once the school becomes over subscribed.

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