Talking to Y1 teacher about how RE is taught

(70 Posts)
Catmint Thu 27-Sep-12 17:48:42

DD school is a non faith school, which we chose partly because we are atheist, but hymns are sung in assembly, which we are okay with. (understand this is mandatory for schools).

DD has just started doing RE, which again we are okay with, in fact it should be a great opportunity to find out about different faiths.

But we are a bit worried because the subject is 'creations' and although we don't think it's creationism that is being taught, we do know that DD has been told to draw pictures of things created by God. We do not believe in God, and we are upset that its existence is being taught as fact (possibly). I know this is a common issue from the thread in Chat.

DD has also told us which of her teachers believe in God - we don't think that this is appropriate information to share with a 5yo!

So, I have made an appt to talk to the class teacher on Mon after school. I have 15 mins. DP is too angry about it, so he will be doing childcare at home.

I am in a bit of a panic that I will come across as attacking people with faith, which is absolutely not my intention! Has anyone had this conversation with school and can you share any tips for it to go smoothly? What should I ask/say? all help appreciated, thanks.

Catmint Sat 06-Oct-12 15:35:59

We found out that our LEA has an RE adviser, and he has sent us a copy of the agreed syllabus. He says that he has never heard of a school refusing to allow parents to see the syllabus and/or scheme of work.

So now we have to decide what to do about this...(weary sigh).

The syllabus looks fine, we are not unhappy with what is in there, as long as the actual teaching is good quality our concerns are allayed. and having the information means that we can talk to DD, knowing what she has learned and help her make the most of the subject in a way that fits with our family values.

radicalsubstitution Sat 06-Oct-12 12:11:22

No, not a term for all atheists. As with people of any faith (or lack thereof), there are plenty of atheists who are perfectly tolerant of other people's beliefs. There are many who are quite happy to accept that life involves taking part in activities that don't fit their belief structure - such as attending friends' baptisms/weddings and allowing their children to take part in nativity plays or Christingle services through brownies etc.

By 'Dawkins brigade' I am referring to the extremist atheists who treat anyone who has a religious belief as though they are somehow intellectually retarded and incapable of rational thought.

Unfortunately, Dawkins will be remembered by the vast majority as the 'atheist nut' rather than as the brilliant evolutionary biologist that he is.

TwiggysGoneOnHolidayByMistake Sat 06-Oct-12 11:49:37

Dawkins brigade? hmm I hope that's not a term for atheists.

mummytime Thu 04-Oct-12 09:18:19

The arguments that young children tend to take as "totally true" anything their teacher says, or they "think" their teacher has said, is just as true with say, English as RE. It is something they grow out of, and something you may have to counteract, but it isn't some kind of universal imprinting (otherwise there would be no atheists).

radicalsubstitution Thu 04-Oct-12 08:29:23

very nicely put cansu.

As a Christian teacher of Science in a Church of England secondary academy, I have some great discussions about scientific theory versus the Bible. My students' beliefs range from atheist to fundamentalist.

Whilst I am always very careful in the way I let these discussions 'flow', I thank the Lord that, as a teacher in a faith school, I am free from the intervention of the Dawkins brigade.

nooka Thu 04-Oct-12 07:35:09

As has been said before there is no such thing in England as a non-faith school as by law all schools are supposed to be broadly Christian. My children certainly weren't just given the 'some people believe line' (although this would be 4-5 years ago now) and class teachers can be hugely influential, small children often believe everything the teachers says is true. The trouble is that having the syllabus won't give you very much of an idea of how the teacher approaches religion, and if she is herself quite religious (or say a TA or regular visitor) then this will come out n all sorts of ways.

The trouble is that there isn't very much you can do about it and unless you want to home school you will probably have to put up with it, continue with telling dd your own views and encourage her to think about things herself and wait for the influence of school to lessen.

aamia Wed 03-Oct-12 23:42:52

On your LEA's website will be the scheme of work. It's supposed to be taught as 'Christians believe...' 'Muslims believe...'. ALL thoughts/beliefs have equal weight, whatever they are. That's the joy of a non-faith school. I guess you could campaign for one for atheists only?

Himalaya Wed 03-Oct-12 09:09:27

"worms are god's creatures" is religious belief (as well as being insufferably twee).

Why can't they say worms are really important for mixing up the soil.

cansu Wed 03-Oct-12 08:10:57

I think you are being a bit OTT wanting to look at the scheme and it won't help you with any remarks you think the teacher may have made about things like ' gods creatures'. Re often involves lots of talking about belief and what values we have. Whilst teachers make every effort to be sensitive to the beliefs and non beliefs that children or indeed anyone may have it isn't really possible to control exactly what everyone says. I think the fact that you have some strong feelings regarding religion is colouring your view of this. Although bamboo has put it much more strongly than I would I do think she is right that you need to back off and relax a bit. You have told the teacher how you feel she will undoubtedly think of this when she is speaking to the children and that really is it. If you need more then I think you may want to consider withdrawing your dd so you can control what she learns about RE. Bear in mind though that she she will hear things in stories and belief crops up in the playground, in other curriculum areas and in assembly. All schools which are non faith usually have a broadly Christian approach and most say prayers in assembly and at harvest and at Christmas etc. your dd will hear about Gods creatures there and it won't be prefaced by 'Christians believe..'.

Ruprekt Tue 02-Oct-12 23:00:53

I would imagine that nothing is being taught as fact.

As it is not a faith school it will simply be 'Some Christians believe that Jesus is gods son. Some Christians do not believe that.'

'The Jewish faith worship in synagogues.'

'the symbol of Christianity is the cross.'

Nothing is taught as fact. It is about sharing beliefs of others and having respect for other faiths.

I walked into a classroom in Y1 last week and was put on the spot by the teacher and asked to talk about my faith (as a JW)

I simply said that I believed in Jesus, was a Christian and asked the children where some Christians believe god lives. One replied 'Outer space' and the other said 'Heaven.'

It opens up discussion and you get some GREAT answers!!

AbigailS Tue 02-Oct-12 22:51:15

Did you not have any luck googling your local authority agree syllabus religious education? I've tried it for half a dozen LAs and all have come up with one. That may help give you an idea.

Pyrrah Tue 02-Oct-12 22:41:44

I would contact your local SACRE and ask them for a copy of the syllabus and tell them that the HT was not prepared to give you a copy - they will be very interested to hear this I can assure you (used to sit on a SACRE as a BHA member).

Hulababy Tue 02-Oct-12 22:14:23

Catmint - which LEA are you in? They will have an agreed RE scheme that all schools in the area should follow. This should tell you at least a little of what will be covered, although not specific lessons.

BTW there isn't really any sch thing as a non faith school in England. All state schools, if not a designated specific faith school, follow a broadly Christian approach.

SuffolkNWhat Tue 02-Oct-12 22:03:55

Catmint have PM'd you

Catmint Tue 02-Oct-12 21:58:27

Thanks Abigail - we really do not want to withdraw DD from the lessons, we think RE is a very important and worthwhile subject.

But we want to know what is being taught. grin

AbigailS Tue 02-Oct-12 21:41:22

If you are that worried about RE being taught in your child's school you can formally withdraw them from the lessons. You need to contact the school if you want this to take place.

This term the requirement for schools to outline all their curriculum on their websites starts. The information should appear fairly soon, if they have not uploaded yet.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 02-Oct-12 21:31:15

Euphemia - apologies - no you didn't quite say that, now that I re-read. But you did say that a teacher wearing a hijab should answer children's questions. I don't think "that's private" is really a valid answer to the question. It's a bit like saying "mind your own business".

Still interested to know whether you think it's OK for an atheist teacher to tell a Christian child that they don't believe in God. And if so, why is that different?

Catmint Tue 02-Oct-12 21:12:16

bamboo, you are very rude. I wonder if you would have said that if I happened to be a Christian or Muslim?

Don't bother answering, by the way.

bamboostalks Tue 02-Oct-12 21:01:33

If you could only see how far up your own backside you actually are, then you would realise why the school do not want to release the scheme of work to you. That is the most helpful thing anyone could say to you. You are making the most enormous mountain out of a non existent molehill. This 'dilemma' is a load of nonsense. I actually feel so sorry for our overloaded teachers having to give up their precious lunch hours to deal with this self important navel gazing. Give it a rest will you so they can focus on teaching our children to read and write etc not pander to egos like yours.

Catmint Tue 02-Oct-12 20:51:49

Thanks for your input bamboo, you have added so much to the discussion.

If you're not interested, don't post FFS, this isn't in Chat!

Hulababy Tue 02-Oct-12 20:44:15

I don't see a problem with children being aware of what faith a teacher is or is not. I do not think most children really have an issue with this tbh. I work in a very multi-cultural school with a massive variation in religions followed - by staff and children. It will be very obvious to some children that we have staff who celebrate Eid or Divali for example. They will then know the faith of that teacher. Likewise I would have no issue with a teacher saying "I am christian and believe in God." So long as a teacher is not saying this is what YOU should be believe and no other way is right then I see no issue at all.

Euphemia Tue 02-Oct-12 20:38:50

Euphemia - are you seriously suggesting that it's OK for a hijab-wearing Muslim to say "I believe in God" but it's not OK for a Christian?

I didn't say that.

bamboostalks Tue 02-Oct-12 20:37:22

You need to get a real problem love.

Hulababy Tue 02-Oct-12 20:36:25

Each LEA has an agreed RE syllabus apparently - google and you should find it for your area.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 02-Oct-12 20:34:11

Euphemia - are you seriously suggesting that it's OK for a hijab-wearing Muslim to say "I believe in God" but it's not OK for a Christian, simply because they don't have any obvious outward signs that the children might pick up on. Isn't that a bit like saying it's OK for one kind of faith to admit to its existence, but other faiths should be regarded as some kind of mysterious secret?

I'm also interested to know whether you would think it's OK for a teacher to say "I don't believe in God." Because primary school was the first place that my children became aware that some people don't believe in God. I don't have a problem with that ... it's part of growing up and becoming aware of different people's beliefs.

But I'm curious to know whether you would regard a teacher expressing atheist views as being as unacceptable as a teacher stating that they, personally, believe in God.

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