Does your children's school have a religious assembly every day?

(60 Posts)
reddaisy Fri 03-May-13 22:58:43

I am an atheist. Our DD is due to start primary school in September and her school is not a CoE school but it holds collective worship assemblies every day of a Christian nature. I am firmly of the belief that schools should be secular. I know I can withdraw her from assembly but DD would not thank me for that and offer our own views at home (so far I have managed to explain that some people believe in God, that a lot of people don't and that she can decide what she thinks herself)

What is normal in schools these days? I think daily collective worship is excessive and frankly is pisses me off that my DD will be indoctrinated in this way at school.

mrz Sat 04-May-13 09:06:53

There is a statutory requirement that all maintained schools in England must provide a daily act of collective worship. This must reflect the traditions of this country which are, in the main, broadly Christian.

tiggytape Sat 04-May-13 12:13:40

Whatever the rights and wrongs of it, it is a requirement and all schools must provide it. Not just church schools - all schools.

Parents however have the absolute right to opt out of it.
And, in areas where Christianity doesn't reflect the faith of the majority of students, special permission can be granted to change the religious basis for the worship (but religious worship must still take place - it can't be changed to atheism for example)

The Lords Prayer is not required - just worship of a mainly Christian nature. Some schools have worship covering the Christian message and Christian values and by giving thanks. Others have much more traditional assemblies with hymns and formal prayers. Both are acceptable but there isn't the option for schools to opt out altogether.

NotTreadingGrapes Sat 04-May-13 12:18:49

Come to live in Italy!

We have no religious assembly every morning.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 12:25:42

They really don't take in the beliefs of parents or teachers! Lots of DCs of Christians are atheists and lots of DCs of atheists become Christians, Muslims etc. the greatest group of converts to Islam are white women in their 20s. You bring your DC up in your beliefs but they have an entirely free choice- as you did. I don't see why you can't just use it as discussion at home.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 12:33:04

I can't see what is wrong with hearing all beliefs- I can't see the point of censorship.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 12:34:37

And I have never met a single person who has become a Christian through school assembles.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 12:35:36

However I suppose my mother getting all uptight about it might have made it far more interesting and something worth exploring!

Part of the issue I have with collective worship is that we will inevitably be undermining some of what DD is presented as "truth" at home. I really can't decide if this is a good or bad thing, as it may lead DD to question everything else she is taught. I am all for her being taught about religion, but presenting one or any as definitely true is just illogical.

Myliferocks Sat 04-May-13 12:47:18

My DS goes to a CofE school which does a religious assembly everyday.
We withdrew him from assembly.
This year there is 2 of them that don't go in but last year there was 8 that didn't.
He doesn't go to the school church services either.

ICanTotallyDance Sat 04-May-13 13:09:03

At my private faith school the assembly was 20 minutes focussing on the virtue of the week and how to exemplify it (virtues were things like courage, kindness, generosity, assertiveness (not aggressiveness, as we soon found out), love, humility etc), a hymn and a prayer.

At my nephew's school, assemblies are 25 minutes long on Mondays and Fridays and only about 10 minutes Tues-Thurs. Monday they get notices for the week, a whole school rollcall (only 80 kids) and on Fridays they get certificates. Every day they talk about manners and there is a school prayer, it is very short and could be mistaken for a self-belief mantra if not for the amen at the end.

BackforGood Sat 04-May-13 13:14:11

Legally, all schools are supposed to have a daily act of collective worship. the interpretation of that varies widely.
tbh, even at my dcs Church School, it's hardly something I would equate with indoctrination, and they are far more likely to use a formal prayer or worship song than non Church schools.
IME of Primary schools generally, there will be some kind of 'moral' story, and often a moment to pause and be thankful that we have enough food to eat / have a school to attend / have families that love us / or maybe to think about the people that don't.... (see above). Those with faith can thank their god for that, those without can just sit and appreciate the things they have that perhaps not everybody does - whether they thank their parents for that, or fate, or something else.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 13:17:01

I bring mine up to question absolutely everything, including me. Thinking for themselves and not going with the crowd is one if the best things you can give them. I have arrived at my own belief system and, although I bring them up according to my beliefs, I was conscious before they were born that they are their own person and not mine to mould - they will form their own opinions.
I have a friend who is a vicar's DD- she is an atheist. I equally know a vicar who took himself off to church at 11 yrs because he had never been taken and was curious. They both still have an excellent relationship with their parents. I don't see why people have an obsession that their DCs must think the same as them- we are all different.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 13:18:06

You do have the right to withdraw them.

Phoebe47 Sat 04-May-13 13:18:58

I think even Ofsted sometimes interpret "collective worship" fairly widely - going from my experience anyway. I teach in a school where the children represent several faiths and none. We do not say an actual prayer at the end of assembly but the children are reminded about being kind to one another/ being a good friend/ doing their best in class etc. We have whole school assemblies twice a week and separate infant and junior assemblies on the other three days. During our last Ofsted I lead an infant assembly which was observed. We did not say a prayer at the end but children were reminded in our "Lets remember" moment about being kind/everyone should have a friend/doing good work etc. Ofsted gave me very positive feedback about the assembly and it was mentioned in the report in very positive terms. No mention of not having a prayer.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 13:21:48

I wouldn't present something as 'truth' at home- it is very subjective. Much better to make the distinction 'I believe','Christian's believe' etc - with and 'when you are older you will decide for yourself'. Although having said that mine were only about 8 yrs when they decided they didn't believe in God.

BackforGood Sat 04-May-13 13:29:48

Excellent posts by ExoticFruits

Elibean Sat 04-May-13 13:29:54

OP, I attended collective worship assemblies every single day of my school life (primary and secondary) and it influenced me not a jot.

I did like singing the hymns, and sometimes felt a bit 'different' because my family wasn't Christian, but in this day and age that part would have been fine I suspect!

Elibean Sat 04-May-13 13:31:05

And I agree with Exotic Fruits - and bring mine up accordingly. They have held various beliefs at various times already (aged 6 and 9) and they certainly don't always coincide with mine, nor their school's!

I'm happy to go along with the "I believe" line, but it is quite unreasonable that the school is not doing the same.

Wellthen Sat 04-May-13 21:51:46

I have taught in faith and non faith schools. In both I found genuinely religious children were in the minority, even if they came from religious families. Many children question the beliefs of others (respectfully) and a few are atheist. All these children have had daily (ish) acts of worship since they were 4. I teach in upper key stage 2 so these children have been 'indoctrinated' for a few years.

Based on anecdotes like these you cant argue that the children are being indoctrinated - it has no impact whatsoever on their beliefs.

ReallyTired Sat 04-May-13 21:59:57

Lot depends on what the head teacher is like. One school I used to work at had no religion whatsoever. They had assemby but used to sing beatles songs and talk about beinb nice to each other.

My son's old head teacher was very religous and the school was very christian inspite of being a community school. They used to say prayers everyday for various people in the world. My son's school now has a temporary head and the first thing he did was to scrap the prayers and all hymns.

Unfortunately school choice is a myth. Many parents just thank their lucky stars their child has a place at a school.

teacherwith2kids Sat 04-May-13 22:00:26

I am an atheist brought up in a very Christian family.

I teach RE, and used to take collective worship weekly. I have no problem with this, and nor do the schools - including the C of E one - that I have taught in. I do not proseletise(sp??) for my lack of belief, but I teach RE as an interesting academic subject, and treat collective worship as an opportunity to explore all kinds of interesting moral issues and moral and religious stories from a variety of faith traditions and none.

Interestingly, I have a militantly atheist pupil in my class (her choice, not her parents'). She attends daily collective worship, and contributes fully in RE. I occasionally discuss with her, as an aside, at breaktime etc, what her views are on something that was discussed in assembly: 'It's important to know my enemy' is the usual tone of her response....

ReallyTired Sat 04-May-13 22:06:00

If you came when your son starts year 12 he could do the international bac.

This is a london state school that offers the IB

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/state-schools-lead-the-way-in-uptake-of-international-baccalaureate-8046632.html

There are a handful of others. The IB would prepare your son better for a US university.

Daily collective worship is the law .... but of the four schools I know well (through own DCs and work) ...

CofE school does daily Christian worship with prayers, Grace at lunchtime and end of day prayer too.

Secular school A does assembly 4 days per week that included some element of 'quiet reflection' that seemed like a prayer but never actually mentioned any specific god. Once a month the local Minister came in to do a Christian assembly.

Secular school B does assembly 3 days a week and hurridly introduced a prayer when Ofsted arrived, much to the bemusement of the pupils! Various local church groups came in at different times of the year, with a wide range of faiths covered.

Secular school C does assembly 4 days a week with no sign of any quiet moment or god. Local minister comes once per term, but is fairly light-touch.

exoticfruits Sun 05-May-13 07:35:22

There are NO secular schools- they are non denominational. (This is the problem - people don't understand)

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