Collective worship in primary school. What is it exactly?

(123 Posts)
Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 22:53:27

I'm looking at primary schools for DS1 who will start september 2009.
I've specifically chosen non-faith schools but have found that two out of the three schools i've looked at mention 'collective worship' on their websites.

I am humanist/atheist and I don't have a problem with him learning about different religions but the term 'worship' is worrying me.

So what is it exactly?
Do all schools do it?

Hulababy Sat 28-Jun-08 22:58:51

Will mean different things at different schools. It may not actually mean there is a religious element, but it could do.

Best thing to do is ask the schools what happens.

christywhisty Sat 28-Jun-08 22:59:12

It's the law that schools have to have an act of collective worship, although you can ask to exclude your child from it.

Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 23:06:19

Does it involve prayers and hymns?
If so, how can that be law?

cory Sat 28-Jun-08 23:08:40

Different in different schools. Ask them.

ravenAK Sat 28-Jun-08 23:09:37

Also, for many (most?) schools these days it means:

Everyone troops in to strains of 'Search for the hero inside yourself'.
Head or suitable delegate waffles on for a bit about being nice to each other.
Brief video of children in developing country foraging on refuse dump.
Head/delegate explains that we are now collecting old mobile phones to help dump foraging children.
Football etc results.
Bollocking about not keying the staff cars.
If time, lame rendition of 'All Things Bright & Beautiful'.

As an atheist myself, it would worry me if it actually happened...wink

Hulababy's right though, probably best to check with individual school.

MegBusset Sat 28-Jun-08 23:10:31

Yes, all schools are legally obliged to provide a collective act of worship every day. Seems that it can differ a lot according to the school, though. However, you do have the right to withdraw your child from that part of the assembly.

Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 23:19:06

Crap. Something else for me to worry about.
I will call the schools.

So for the athiest parents - how do you react to your child singing 'all things bright and beautiful?'

harpomarx Sat 28-Jun-08 23:22:06

db, didn't you go to school here? And have 'assembly', and hymn singing and church services? Thought it was the norm.

I'm an atheist too and would rather religion was kept out of education. But until it is I think this kind of 'collective worship' is the best you're going to get. Much worse is the fact that faith schools are the only choice in some areas.

Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 23:29:18

Yes I did go to school here. And we did all those things but i thought that was because it was Scotland 30 years ago.
I am genuinely surprised to find it still going on.

It didn't do me any harm, so I don't think i would go so far as excluding him from assembly. I just thought I could chose a non-faith school and it wouldn't be an issue.

I'm new to this finding schools malarky and it's more difficult than i thought.
I've been to 3 schools which were all good, i'm now trying to compare them on various levels (not just religion) to see which one is best suited to DCs.

ravenAK Sat 28-Jun-08 23:30:32

Not had to deal with it yet, db - my experience is as a teacher.

'Evolution made them all' scans quite nicely, though. grin

FairyMum Sat 28-Jun-08 23:32:51

Collective worship at school was probably what turned me into an atheist. The more religious education, the more likely to be end up atheist surely?

Blu Sat 28-Jun-08 23:37:20

It is decreed in the National Curriculum that there be an act of collecive worship, but it certainly doesn't happen in DS;s state community primary. Not at all, ever, as far as I can see.

Might have done when they had their Ofsted inspection, I suppose wink

lexilex Sun 29-Jun-08 00:00:57

the main thing you should think about is what you childs main education is, any type of religon in schools will be minimal compared to the main education, and for me i think the more thy are taught about all religons the better and the less narrow minded their generation will be in years to come, the problem i find with most people is that its all or nothing with only one religon (ie catholics wont really teach about others) and in turn people will have no understanding of other people faiths, and thats how serious problems start, for me the more children are taught about other peoples religons, cultures, way of life, the more broad minded and understanding to other people they will be in adult life,
oh and i am atheist, at the end of the day your child will mostly grow up with the beliefs they have grown up with in the home, but what they do at school will just give them that more knowledge which will be much more valuble in life as adults. hope this makes sense. xxxxx

RosaLuxembunting Sun 29-Jun-08 00:36:09

Raven, that is one of the funniest posts I have read on Mumsnet in a long time.
And all too true.

katebee Sun 29-Jun-08 07:06:01

I don't know what they are referring to by collective worship but I find it depressing how many people on Mumsnet are against their children participating in school assemblies.

I have such happy memories of singing all things bright and beautiful and other hymns in primary school assembly. I think it is nice for the whole school primary or secondary to get together in the morning..and sing a few hymns and say a few prayers..which is basically encouraging children to think of others.

Whether or not one believes in God many of the biblical stories encourage people to look out for each other such as the Good Samaritan.

As we are in a Christian country I really feel all schools should have a traditional assembly with a couple of hymns, and prayers plus the school announcements etc. It is also important for children to be taught about other religions and atheism whilst at school so that they are fully informed and can make their own minds up when they are older over what religious path to follow.

stillwaiting Sun 29-Jun-08 08:37:21

"catholics wont really teach about others"

Catholic schools make a huge effort to teach about alll faiths in my experiance of going to one and of being a parent. Probably wasn't the case 40 years ago but certainly is now. I learnt about Islam, Hinduism, Buddism, Judaism in quite a lot of detail in my Catholic secondry and my dcs primary covers all of these (esp Islam). The secondry my dcs will go covers all these, other christian faiths and some more obscure faiths such as Zoroastrianism.

Dragonbutter I suggest you actually go and attend a few assemblies to get the feel of them. A lot will depend on the personal faith and beliefs of the head and I imagine you no more want your dcs being told that God wants them for a sunbeam than you want someone telling them that science and religion are incompatable and all religious people are thickos who don't believe in evolution and should be sneered at.

Personally I think the worship element should be droped from assemblies in no faith schools.

mrz Sun 29-Jun-08 09:21:39

All schools by law have to have a daily act of "collective worship" you will find in most schools this involves all the children coming together in the hall to listen to a story (usually with a social/moral message not a particularly religious one) and singing a song (not a hymn).

cory Sun 29-Jun-08 09:25:28

IME it can be things like practising Christmas carols for the end of term concert, the vicar coming in to give a talk about bullying, the head praising children who have been particularly nice or achieved.

Dragonbutter Sun 29-Jun-08 10:10:02

Thanks to everyone for posting.

Lexilex, yes, you're right. perspective on this is good. It is a small part of schooling.

Katebee, I agree that it would be sad to exclude my children from assembly. I remember assembly as being quite exciting. Something hilarious always happened. And i also think it's a lovely way for whole school to do something collectively, especially singing.
But... i just wish it didn't have to include a religious element.
Social/moral/ethical element? absolutely.
Worshipping? no

Stillwaiting, that's a good idea. Sitting in on an assembly might be just what i need. I might not tell them what my concerns are exactly so they don't change anything.

hercules1 Sun 29-Jun-08 10:21:02

I have to do the collective worship bit and I'm an atheist. I never bring god into it in any shape or form. I just make it a thinking moment on different issues.

Blu Sun 29-Jun-08 13:27:21

Actually i wish there was more colective singing as part of DS's assemblies. Mostly they seem to watch each other's class presentations...and sing along to 'the World's greatest' and other cheesy uplifting soft pop songs!

Spidermama Sun 29-Jun-08 13:32:04

My school gloats with pride at the complete lack of any spiritual element in their assmeblies. I think it's sad. They're hardly going to be brainwashed by a little collective meditation or concious singing. I'm sure whatever you give them at home is hundreds of times more effective.

notlongnow Sun 29-Jun-08 22:49:43

I think that this is a problem faced by lots of us who send our kids to non-religious schools and then are faced with our children then participating in actual acts of Christian worship in assembly. I think that my son finds it quite confusing trying to understand why his parents tell him that they believe that God doesn't exist and then in school (a place where we otherwise expect him to 'believe' everything that they tell him) he is placed in a situation where he is effectively expected to pray to God (told to bow head, put hands together etc...). I would have sent him to a religious school if I had wanted him to pray to God! I have no problem with education 'about' religion (|I think that is an important part of the curriculum). There is a big difference between that and educating children to 'be' religious.

I also think that the wording of the 1988 education act is possibly out of date i.e. regarding the way it is phrased to say that the 'collective act of worship' should be "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character". We are all much more familiar with the idea of living in a multicultural society than we were twenty years ago. It just seems very limited to be 1) to not recognise that some children are not from religious families and 2) that even if they are they might not be Christian.

policywonk Sun 29-Jun-08 22:53:42

DS1 is in Reception at a community school, and in his case it seems to come down to a daily prayer that the class recite before being dismissed. I'm guessing that his class teacher is not a big believer, as her sarcastic, droning delivery of said 'prayer' has to be heard to be believed. 'Tis one of the reasons I like her.

FoodieLexie Fri 04-Jul-08 15:43:58

Dragonbutter, I'm SOOO glad you posted this - we are in exactly the same situation. And have you noticed just how many chairs of governors are clergymen (and always clergy MEN for some reason)?

General question - does anyone have any tips on raising a child to be healthily sceptical about religion without turning them into mini-Hitlers? (who seems to be the only atheist many religious people have ever heard of).

Dragonbutter Sat 05-Jul-08 20:38:41

Yipee, this thread made it to the morningpaper's talk round-up. grin

I am quite shocked at the discovery that prayers could be part of my childs schooling. I actually believed there would be 'religious education' as a school topic but that there would be no religious bias to the actual schooling. I don't know where i got this assumption from, i just presumed it to be the case.

another annoying thing is that for the last four years i've been avoiding baby & toddler groups run by the church or songs & stories which included a bible story and some hymns and been fairly choosey about which groups we attend. What was the point if they get all that stuff at school anyway?


ReallyTired Sat 05-Jul-08 21:59:22

I would ask to sit on the assembly of the schools you are interested in.

The school (special school) I work at has a brilliant assembly. They sing pop songs and have themes like healthy eating, fair trade and celebrating children's achievemnts.

The (community primary) school I worked in previously had an evangelical christian head and their assembly was like attending an evangelical church.

The law states that schools must have a collective act of worthship. Its down to the indvidual school how they interpret it. Any way you can choose to withdraw your child from assembly or RE lessons.

KatyBeau Thu 03-Mar-11 23:03:05

I've just read that collective worship, at least partly of a Cheistian nature, is the law. I went to a CofE primary school, Sunday school etc. Loved the hymns and bible stories. It took me until my teens to realise I didn't believe in god. Until that point I hadn't really thought about it much. So I don't know how much of it kids take on board.

I truly value the ethical, moral lessons I got from Christianity and still stand by the vast majority of it, and will have no problem reading most bible stories with my lite girl when she's older. However, I'd also like to read her fables and stories from any other tradition too.

What I'm not comfortable with is prayer and teaching about god. To me there's no way to brush over it. Kids believe what they are told. So why should schools push a set of beliefs on them when the parents don't want it?

But when she gets to school age, do I feel strongly enough to take her out of the prayer bits of assemblies? Probably not. I wouldn't want her to miss out or feel different, which would be much worse. I just wish we weren't forced into it.

I suppose it's the same as people getting married in church or having their kids christened when they aren't really religious - just because that's what you do.

I personally think that it's all a bit disrespectful to those that do believe as it devalues their beliefs somehow.

TimeWasting Fri 04-Mar-11 07:55:58

Another plus in the Home Education column.

lechatnoir Fri 04-Mar-11 14:53:22

My DS only started school in September and already seems to know most of the major bible stories, how to pray, sing various hymns and refuses to accept that the bible is just a story - "No mummy Jesus is IS real Miss X said so" . Particularly irritating as we passed up a place at a very good CofE school purely because it was a religious school, and to make matters worse he and doesn't seem to have the first idea what I'm talking about when I mention other religions or major festivals like Rosh Hashanah or Diwali.
Will be discussing with his teacher at parents evening next week so be interesting to hear what he has to say as I think it is her personal belief rather than a specific school directive that leans so heavily towards Christianity.

harvalp Fri 04-Mar-11 15:10:06

Think of it like Father Christmas. You wouldn't want your DCs to think that he doesn't exist yet would you?

So a couple of nice carols and hymns, a prayer and a nativity play won't do the DC any harm and may help him to form the basis for a moral outlook. You can point out, if he hasn't decided himself by the time he's 12 or so, that it's really all a load of old cobblers and needs to be treated in the same way as Father Christmas.

TimeWasting Fri 04-Mar-11 17:28:45

But harvalp, all adults know that FC isn't real, plenty of adults do believe in Jesus et al, so it's quite a different matter.

harvalp Fri 04-Mar-11 19:14:06

I'm assuming the family is more intelligent and has risen above primitive superstition.

bettyboop63 Fri 04-Mar-11 19:21:45

omgg you crack me up all you have to worry about is something as petty as this?!! well WTG ,they are not brain washing exercises you know and every single school is different,i have had exp of a non religious school and a Ecumenical primary and they are not that different the basic premise is to teach love , understanding and honor, and teach that children they are all special, im not an athiest or religious im a mum, my childs happiness whilst in this environments my top priority it should hardly be ones most relevant consideration when deciding your DS/DD future

TimeWasting Fri 04-Mar-11 19:28:15

You may think it's petty, but my child being required by law to pray to a god I don't believe in is a consideration in my DS future.

bettyboop63 Fri 04-Mar-11 19:38:57

im sorry it IS petty goodness does everyone have nothing more serious to worry about get a grip at all the schools ive been involved in they have discussed in assembley each religions god and didnt say prayers to god at all they closed eyes and the head said things like let us all love each other and do our best to be kind yada yada yada so i find as we live in a cristian country all of you complaining offensive when there are disabled children and parents and carers struggling to survive in MS school and get what they should have by law ect ect makes peoples complaints of this nature VERY petty indeed if you dont like it dont send them there ..simple..

TimeWasting Fri 04-Mar-11 20:47:39

So if it's not as life-altering as the struggles that carers have it's not worthy of discussion?

UnSerpentQuiCourt Fri 04-Mar-11 21:47:15

All schools must by law have an act of collective worship every day; however, it can be done in such a way as to respect all beliefs. In my CofE primary, we are all careful to say, 'Christians believe that ....' rather than state beliefs as fact. In CW, the children are invited to pray or just to close their eyes and be quiet. Different, though, when the vicar comes in once a week.

I'm afraid there will be many worse things that your child will experience at school; many attitudes and opinions with which you cannot agree. I think that it is part of your child beginning to make his own way in the world and be exposed to a range of ideas and influences.

pinkcushion Fri 04-Mar-11 22:10:54

Deal with that sickly sweet All things Bright and beautiful rubbish by promoting the Monty Python version All Things Dull and Ugly - have google if nothing else you'll have a giggle. Personally I can't stand the original song and I banned it completely within my hearing range.

Promotion of the Christian religion really confused my children in Reception and Year 1 by Year 2 they gained the confidence to be able to say I don't believe in God - tbh how a primary child can rationally believe or not believe in God is beyond me - they believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy - it's a pile of rubbish!!!

I don't believe in enforced collective worship in schools, but they'll get over it and after the initial confusion due to their age, they'll learn to defend their own beliefs.

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 09:23:44

how silly people are all im saying is there are far far more important things about your own DC through school through life you will have to worry about this is a non-sensicle debate schools generally have collective worship you either send them to the school or you dont home ed if your that worried what "influence" or brain washing as you obviously see it has or your DC or accept it and move on and i dont think unless youve walked a mile in someones shoes you should comment ie about carers/ children with sen and physical difficulties obviously you will have to avoid the religious schools but as we are a christian country it will be difficult to find a school that has nil reference to it and as pink says as children become adults they grow and decide for themselves isnt that what good parentings about bringing your children up to make their own informed choices ?!!

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 09:45:08

Accept it or move on? Is that the sort of attitude they promote in school?

sofaaddict Sat 05-Mar-11 10:09:54

All schools have to provide an act of daily collective worship, but that really does vary school to school. The school I currently work in includes celebrating children's achievements, listening to stories read by teachers, singing (mainly secular) songs, raising moral and social issues, listening to inspirational stories etc. all in this, and I think that all of that is very important for all children. Schools are not only required to have daily collective worship, but also that it should be of 'broadly Christian character'. (Take that up with the govenment if you wish!) In our school every significant religious event is 'celebrated', in as much as the children will learn that it is 'X' today, this is a festival of 'X' religion and they might celebrate by doing 'x'. As a teacher I have always been told to teach religions by saying 'Christians believe that...' or 'Hindus believe that..' rather than just saying it as fact, which I do, even though I am a Christian myself. We also include 'relflective' time in collective worship, which may be a prayer, a famous quote, or just time for the children to think about the story. Our collective worship times are well planned, and clearly thought out to try and enhance the child's whole being, in line with the previous mantra of 'Every Child Matters'. I ask to speak to your chosen schools Collective Worship co-ordinator and ask what is in place/planned already.
Hth, sorry if any typos, in a rush. grin

grovel Sat 05-Mar-11 10:44:10

I am not a believer but I'm glad my DS got a basic grounding in the Bible etc. So much of our Christian heritage informs our history, language, architecture, literature and music. If Arsenal vs Scunthorpe is described as a "David and Goliath clash" my DS gets the reference. He knows the background to the Messiah etc etc.
He chose not to be confirmed so I guess he's not been brainwashed.

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 11:02:09

some things just ARE fact and your not going to change the way schools have been teaching since the victorins begain it simply because the majority are happy with that , i made a lot of relevant points and the only thing you pick up on is one phrase and ignore the rest just because its not what you want to hear? we all through life have things we do and dont really like your not protecting your child by being so anti your trying to influence her thinking let yr DC decide for his or her self as i say thats good parenting and letting your child make decisions is all part of them growing up you have to face it you cant protect them from everything and just because you yourself dont believe (which i dont myself as i said earlier) doesnt mean it will do them any harm to listen and as i said make informed dicisions later in life you have to learn to trust your own child is inteligent enough... and on a lighter note since when did you ever see the children really listen in assembly anyway they sit glassy eyed most of them n only join in when it is time to sing. you must keep things in perspective or as they grow older you will never cope with the really BIG important life changing decissions as you put it

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 11:10:46

the point is it has changed since Victorian times. In many schools the act of collective worship involves a morning assembly that has no hymns or bible readings and prayers are a moment of silent reflection in others it might be "thank you for my family friends and a new bike shed" Amen

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 11:25:58

yes bt the Op i dont think believes this ive said just that you wont find a school with nil ref to god or other religions most unless a religious schools so as not to offend still do a generalised prayer of keep us safe let us be kind do our best ect as i said to her earlier they are not brain washing exercises , some schools still pray to god but usually ive found its just one parayer the lords prayer but most now just generally pray as were so multi-cultured but she still even after many people have said this thiks we should not pray at all because shes athiest confused i dont believe there is such a school if your this adament you will have to ask for them not to be in assemblys which is a shame as they are not for the perpose of religion they are for community spiritness thus she will be segregating her own dc if you read my other posts you will see where im comming from i just basically think its a big hullabaloo over nothing even when my DS went to a christian ecumenical school they didnt bag on about god they also talked in assembly about other peoples religions and celebrated them too hardly brainwashing as she seems to think it is, imho all schools want to do is bring about a community feel to the children so they feel a part of it and teach love and tolerance maybe the OP needs to go back and learn some tolerance herself sorry but it offends me even though im not religious myself

Dukeleto Sat 05-Mar-11 11:28:58

I think it's ridiculous that parents have to actually withdraw their children from "collective worship" why not just leave it up to the childrens individual conscience? There's no need to enforce the "motions" of prayer, not everyone prays the same way in any case. The kids should not be forced to take part, beyond maintaining a respectful silence, just like I do when I have to go to church confused

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 11:35:32

i totally agree Dukeleto thats exactly me thoughts lol you say it much more susinctly

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 12:02:06

I'm not the OP by the way.

When I go into a church I maintain a respectful silence too.
But that is the sort of place where I expect collective worship to take place. 'Worship' is quite different to religious education which I totally approve of in schools.

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 12:11:54

if they called it something different ..."collective reflection" or " contemplation" would you find it more acceptable?

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 12:20:12

Perhaps. 'Take a few moments to think of the people suffering in New Zealand...' or 'Let's think of one thing today that we have done to help someone else...'
and no mention of prayer or anything resembling 'worship'.

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 12:35:54

'Take a few moments to think of the people suffering in New Zealand...' or 'Let's think of one thing today that we have done to help someone else...'
which is exactly what happens in most schools

PurveyorOfWoo Sat 05-Mar-11 12:44:28

I'd just like to point out this thread was started in 2008. Which isn't to say the continuing discussion is not interesting, but I doubt it is of much further help to the Dragonbutter as her son will be well on his way through school by now.

Schroedinger Sat 05-Mar-11 13:05:28

My child goes to a catholic primary but my husband and I did not go to school here. So this is the first time I heard about the collective worship in assembly in non-faith schools and I have to say I am completely baffled. I totally understand that those of other or without faith find this offensive. Faith (or no faith) is important business for many and should really not be left to the choice of individual teachers or head-teachers who come and go. I think parents have a right to know what their children are being exposed to at school in terms of religion. The legislation referring to a wholly concept of 'broadly Christian nature' is totally unhelpful, imo. Ultimately this is a shortcoming of a system that does not separate between church and state as many other countries do as a matter of constitutional principal, not at least to protect minorities. It's not good enough telling the minority to go away and have their children withdrawn from assembly.

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 13:14:30

mrz, in that case, they are failing to carry out the legal requirement of collective worship!

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 13:35:08

No they aren't isn't it "broadly Christian" to show concern about others - New Zealand? and to consider how we have helped others? and if we haven't perhaps it might prompt us to do so

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 13:42:36

It is broadly Christian, but it isn't worship.

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 13:50:56

add "Amen "

Dragonbutter, I am a humanist too, and DS goes to a C of E school, and even there, the collectiver act of worship is nothing more than a quick prayer at the end of assembly (always relevant to the kids and current affairs e.g Thanbks for good things, thoughts towards victims of accidents like the earthquake recently) with Amen added on at the end. The actual prayer is just saying and thinking something positive that all children, no matter what they believe, will benefit from.

They don't sing hymns, they sing a lot of songs that were never around in my day, some of them have a Christian slant, most don't.

The way I see it, they're just songs and stories, and it won't brainwash DS into believing these things against his own will, but if he chooses to be a Christian or any other religion that's his choice. I do not think his schooling will affect that really.

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 14:32:45

thats exactly what they do add an amen yes it is what weve been trying to explain all along its just supposed to encourage most schools ethos of be kind to one another considerate wether to the boy sitting lonely in the playground or the people in new zealand its supposed to bring everyone together not to preach but to teach them love and understanding its not brainwashing so if they change their wording on the website from worship which you dont like to morning community gathering which is what it is you wouldnt be worried? Schroedinger "Ultimately this is a shortcoming of a system that does not separate between church and state as many other countries do as a matter of constitutional principal, not at least to protect minorities. It's not good enough telling the minority to go away and have their children withdrawn from assembly" this is exactly what the schools do do here in uk too make the assemblies accessable to all its in our consitution its imbeded so much my sons first school upset the majority deciding to teach all the children "christmas" is called winter festival and putting this all about school on letters boards so you cant say we dont protect the minorities actually we do quite the opposite we worry not to offend the minorities and disreguard the majorities feelings , faiths and customs all for the sake of the PC busy bodies

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 17:36:36

That isn't worship though is it. So if they're not going to worship anyway, we should get rid of the legal requirement.

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 17:48:55

It depends on your definition of worship
for many Christians a moment of silent prayer is indeed worship.

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 17:57:52

'homage or reverence paid to a deity'

Thinking about those less fortunate than ourselves is not necessarily prayer.

If the school is obliged to worship collectively, then surely they are negligent in this duty if they do not direct the children to pay homage to God.

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 18:02:33

My class used to say "Tank you heavenly farmer" does that count?

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 18:05:49

Our Father, who aren't in heaven...

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 18:07:53

well mine would say
our farmer ...
I once had a "thank you heavenly fireman..."

UnSerpentQuiCourt Sat 05-Mar-11 21:18:06

"Harold be thy name.."

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 21:31:39

maybe people dont give our dc's enough credit they are inteligent and naturally non biased non racist , and much more able to choose lets give them the space and time to decide for themselves have a good evening everyonewine

pinkcushion Sat 05-Mar-11 21:39:22

Maybe we should encourage them to worship Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jewish Gods among others..give them a real choice in their beliefs.

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 22:06:32

betty, how does believing that our children are capable of making rational decisions prevent us from disagreeing with this ridiculous requirement?

mrz Sun 06-Mar-11 10:20:05

TimeWasting now I can understand that you don't want your child to be subjected to "collective worship" but why are you so determined that "collective worship" should be formal or ceremonious rendering of homage to God and not the low key variety carried out in most schools? Is it because without the formal or ceremonious rendering of homage you haven't really got anything to object to?

bettyboop63 Sun 06-Mar-11 12:12:52

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

TimeWasting Sun 06-Mar-11 19:03:16

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

mrz Sun 06-Mar-11 19:07:43

We do teach children how others pray and as you know Amen is used in other world religions not just Christianity. So their silent "prayer" can be directed to the deity of choice

stoatsrevenge Sun 06-Mar-11 19:20:27

I nearly answered this with full details of our 'assemblies' and then realised that it would identify me! grin

However, I think it's time the word 'worship' was removed. IMO an assembly is a good way to foster a sense of community within the school and to talk about culturally or globally important things (this may be religions, charities, world events, etc).

TimeWasting Sun 06-Mar-11 19:22:54

Why do we need our children to take part in a religious ceremony at school though?

TimeWasting Sun 06-Mar-11 19:23:38

stoats, that would suit me fine. No more amens.

mrz Sun 06-Mar-11 19:27:27

TimeWasting you can't have it both ways ... the type of assembly most schools follow aren't satisfying your definition of "worship" so you want everyone to hold full religious ceremonies so you can moan about it!

stoatsrevenge Sun 06-Mar-11 19:28:53

I really don't like it when the local vicars come in preaching their view of Christianity (i.e. unquestioning faith) and sing happy clappy songs. This, in my view, should not be allowed, because they are actually giving the children the message that Christianity is 'the only way'. hmm Teachers aren't allowed to foist their views on the children, so why should that be allowed in assembly?

pinkcushion Sun 06-Mar-11 20:50:51

Worse still the vicars are on the Board of Gov and appear to use their position to promote their religion both in assembly, in the school generally and promote their church events in the weekly Newletter - if they were involved in any other business I'm sure more people would object more, I find it all very creepy.hmm

bettyboop63 Sun 06-Mar-11 21:03:53

ok timewasting lovely colourful language btw if youve been in a school you may notice quite a lot of us throughout this thread HAVE been telling you but your so narrow minded they DO* teach and have days celebrating the other religions thats precisely our point and as *mrz explained they do often have silent prayer which is left to the individual to direct at their god if they have one or not as the case may be, i ddint swear at you why the need for such anger is it perhaps you as mrz says have not really got a valid argument/ anything to object to

sparkle12mar08 Sun 06-Mar-11 21:12:42

I'm with TW all the way here, there is no possible justification for religious worship in schools. None whatsoever. Church and state should be utterly separate, and 'collective worship' in schools drives me wild. I have actually written to my MP about it but other than that there's little I can actually do other than pull my children out of assemblies. Which I am loathe to do because it marks them out. Bah, I hate it. I love the fact that come schools and heads are brave and intelligent enough to stand up against this mockery of a law, I just wish all of them would.

bettyboop63 Sun 06-Mar-11 21:17:52

all the assemblies ive been too at 4 different schools the only one that did talk openly and consistently about god was the ecumenical school my ds went to even then they still has assemblies on other faiths as well, ALL the schools had one thing in common teaching children to love , be kind , considerate and tolerant of each other seems a lesson we all need to learn more of IMHO

pinkcushion Sun 06-Mar-11 21:25:38

I joined the Humanist Society to object to Collective worship in schools. You can also vocalise your discontent, as you have done - you can be one less of the presumed "majority" who apparently don't mind time being wasted spent worshiping a fictional character. It's hardly chaining yourself to the railings but at least your views won't be entirely invisble and you may give others the courage to speak out against this subtle religious brainwashing. It's unlikely any politition regardless of their religious belief will have the balls to tackle this issue - we no longer have a Liberal Party!

sparkle12mar08 Sun 06-Mar-11 21:26:08

bettyboop63 Sun 06-Mar-11 21:17:52
"teaching children to love , be kind , considerate and tolerant of each other seems a lesson we all need to learn more of IMHO"

Couldn't agree with you more bettyboop, but why do they need to make my child take part in an actual act of worship to a non existant imaginary friend in the sky to do so? It's ridiculous.

sparkle12mar08 Sun 06-Mar-11 21:28:15

Thabks pinkcushion, I'll look into the HUmanist Society. Most of my friends are of the lapsed anglican persuasion who can't quite not believe, iykwim. They look at me as if I'm nuts when I talk about how I feel...

GrimmaTheNome Sun 06-Mar-11 21:33:01

>So for the athiest parents - how do you react to your child singing 'all things bright and beautiful?'

hmm <<like that.

Make sure you ground them in fact - I overheard my DD when about 6 explaining evolution to a slightly older child who'd said something about God making living things.

And when she came across Eric Idles parody neatly juxtaposed with the original (in Anne Fine's anthology 'Too Good to Miss' vol 1) she sang it with gusto and a huge [grin'

bettyboop63 Sun 06-Mar-11 21:34:05

sad how sad if you wish to call it brainwashing to spend 10 mins of yr day head bowed being asked to think of others rather than just yourself , because thats all they are doing and if youve been to a few different schools and watched (excluding i catholic schools) the "majority" of you will know how narrow minded and wrong you are so very intolerant it makes me worry if this is the attitude of people these days very scary indeed

mrz Sun 06-Mar-11 21:41:54

sparkle12mar08 if you had read the thread you would see that the act of worship in most schools doesn't according to TimeWasting involve worship which is what TimeWasting is objecting to...

pinkcushion Sun 06-Mar-11 21:48:35

Is to worship - to think of others or is it to think of God? I don't see the need to use the word worship - my dcs learn to put their hands together to pray at school - why tell them to do that to think of others?

I object to the notion that my dcs have to collectively worship in a Christian way to love others, consider their feelings and be good people - that is deeply insulting to those of us who do not choose to worship a god.

How is objecting to your dc being forced to worship in a Christian way narrow minded, I'm intrigued?

pinkcushion Sun 06-Mar-11 21:56:41

Mrz - I wod have felt a lot more comfortable with your school's definition of Collective Worship but the Infant school my dcs attended was full on and I had no experience of any other school (I was not educated in this country) and to me this was the way it was meant to be, I felt very comfortable about the way it was taught - even some very religious parents privately expressed concerns about the school's heavy focus on God and this was supposed to be a normal state school.

TimeWasting Sun 06-Mar-11 22:21:44

betty, your passive aggressive attitude to me prompted any 'colourful language' I might have used.
If you can't see why I would find what you said to me to be offensive, then we're going to continue to have difficulty having any sort of intelligent debate here.

The law requires worship. That's what we always did at school, said the Lord's prayer, sang lots of hymns, discussed how wonderful the Lord's creation is etc.

If school's are moving away from that sort of religious ceremony is it perhaps because many people aren't comfortable with religious indoctrination in our schools, so it's been watered down to the level that's been described, with the amen added on to satisfy the law and the few religious zealots who believe that school is a good place to teach children how to^ pray. Distinct form teaching them ^about prayer.

I believe that collective worship should be removed from state schools, however inoffensive you believe it to now be.

pinkcushion Sun 06-Mar-11 22:32:27

I felt very uncomfortable and I of course know how to spell would - damn the bloody lack of edit button!!!

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 08:51:31

if you resort to colourful language timeWasting * its because you *CANT have intelligent debate,nothing i said was offensive but your whole manner of trying to enforce on the majority your in my opinion missguided ideals is extremely offensive, but i didnt resort to personal attack as you do.ive been to quite a few schools growing up myself pinkcushion and ive 3 DC who've been to 3 different first/middle schools and in none of them have the HT asked them at assembly to put their hands together and pray they use the phrase let us pray which takes us back to earlier threads again where we discussed that this leaves it open for wether you believe or not or perhaps have a different god, even in the one middle school my youngest DC went to an ecumenical school they still did not sing hymns they sang at harvest festival the well known song fields of barley which was very beautiful , im not religious myself if you had time to read all the posts what we were saying is exactly that they are not very religious anymore being PC they try and make them non discript so as not to offend what a couple of MNrs were saying is they didnt like calling it worship( none of the schools ive been to call it that either except obviously the ecumenical school) which i had to send my DS too because their was no room at the other inn lol sorry couldnt resist

TimeWasting Mon 07-Mar-11 09:22:24

Wow. I really don't think it's me that's got the problem with intelligent debate betty.

You said 'TimeWasting that name is very apt for you have a good day' which was a personal attack that was unprovoked as far as I could see. Using my username to attempt to discredit my argument should illustrate to anyone reading though that you don't have much of an argument yourself though.

And saying 'let us prayer' makes it a religious ceremony, sorry that you can't see that, blindingly obvious to me.

Betty, why do you think children should pray in school?

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 10:18:19

your typing as if your a different person suddenly lol and to ask that question proves you didnt read or listen to anything that was said earlier , i was only personal in that YES i was talking to you if you wish to be so defensive its nothing to do with me perhaps you need to look into that further, and ANYONE who resorts to vile insults isnt worth talking to

sparkle12mar08 Mon 07-Mar-11 11:37:47

Bettyboop - The act of praying and the use of the term 'Let us pray', whether with hands together or not, heads bowed or not, is an act of worship. The use of the Lords prayer, and of 'Amen' is an act of worship. Hyms, harvest festivals, christmas services, carols etc, they all pre-suppose the existance of a deity at all. They are scripturally defined terms and rooted in religious worship. They do not, as you state, leave it open as to whether one believes at all or not.

Would any of you be happy if an Imman came to lead prayers to Allah, or a Sikh leader leading worship to V&#257;higur&#363;, or a Catholic priest, or a Rabbi etc and all children were obliged to take part? Not just to witness a service, but to take part? Because that's exactly what happens when teachers, heads etc are obliged to produce assemblies using any of these means (prayers, hymns etc). And just because something is not 'very religious' does not mean it is non-religious.

MrsZ - I've read every single post on the thread, and whilst I agree with you that most schools try to avoid any overtly religious content (and quite rightly imo), it's the wider issue that I am really angry about. The fact that schools are hidebound by a ridiculous law which means they have to have some kind of group 'worship' at all, that they then have jump through hoops and to try not to offend. The entire clause needs to be scrapped. Group contemplation on ethics, morals, etc is great and we probably need more of it, but we do not need to have that cast under the umbrella of religion.

GoldenBeagle Mon 07-Mar-11 11:49:20

Yes, it'the law under the national curriculum.

However in DCs primary the 'collective worship' involves one class assembly per week when different classes present performances, songs and examples of their work, and another where they give out achivement awards, class awards for punctuality and attendance and sing Bob Marley songs, 'The World's Greatest', 'Something Inside So Strong' and a range of Caribbean call and response songs. Once a year there is a carol service - which includes that well know religious number 'Frosty the Snowman'.

Once they go to school they come across all sorts of ideas and take part in many things that you don't support, it's part of entering the complexity of the wider world and won't harm.

But the legal requirement for 'collective worship' in a non-faith community state school is outrageous and I suggest that like me you write to your MP about it.

GoldenBeagle Mon 07-Mar-11 11:52:38

Sorry - just to clarify - the class assemblies are thier general work, nothing religiou at all. Unless the demonstrate the clay divas they make every year when learning about diwali.

TimeWasting Mon 07-Mar-11 12:02:30

betty, if you think 'screw you' in response to an unprovoked personal attack is a 'vile insult' then I'm not sure you're on the same planet, so, basically, whatever.
I can't see anything in your posts that directly answers my question, so why not answer it? I do genuinely want to know your answer.

pinkcushion Mon 07-Mar-11 12:37:40

Bettyboop - I'm a bit confused by your suggestion that the term let us pray "leaves it open for wether you believe or not or perhaps have a different god"

How does an atheist pray - we don't do god, we don't do praying and we don't do worship?
When a teacher says to a 5 year old - "Let us pray" The 5 year old interprets that request as some thing that must be done, at least mine did - not a "pray if you want to but never mind if you don't" - it's a direct request and like most things in school should be obeyed.

An act of collective worship has no place in schools - and there is no good reason for it to be continued.

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 12:46:50

ty GoldenBeagle exactly what i was trying to convey since commenting on this thread including being pc and incorporating other faiths but no real religious content as i said all the schools ive been involved with unless are actually a religious school dont preach at all, the only answer is as someone on a post earlier is if your concerned ask in advance to see an assembley or ask the HT outright what a typical assembly consists of or ask they dont partake ..this will also be as your Dc's get to seconadary school another concern RE which they are now changing the name of but content is still the same to Life Skills, although this covers other areas also and sex education

sparkle12mar08 Mon 07-Mar-11 12:56:32

Only just noticed the weird punctuated 'Vihiguru' in my previous post. Apologies.

TimeWasting Mon 07-Mar-11 12:58:37

Why not just scrap it altogether though Betty?

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 13:04:42

ive answered already in previous posts timewasting and pink i was using let us pray as example of one of the other ways SOME schools say it they ALL do different i think some of you have had bad exp of assemblies some schools do fantastic assemblies with inclusion in mind others appauling ones, unfortunately you may not believe in god doesnt mean yr DC's cant be exposed to it and decide for themselves as i also have already said id be more bothered about RE going under the guise in secondary as life skills and including sex education which when i was at school consisted of the biology of it in a text book/ drawn on a blackboard now days do you realise this consists of them being given Dildo's and a condom to put on it in yr 9 (13) i know we have to learn but that wasnt told to us in advance that it was that explicit

haggisaggis Mon 07-Mar-11 13:09:21

In Scotland it is certainly assumed that the "collectve worship" will be Christian as it is still a Christian country. Our school - a normal state primary - has a minister who comes in about once a month and holds a very definitely Christian act of worship. They also sometimes have people in from a local Chistian centre who do quizzes and sing Cristian songs. My dc are withdrawn forom tehse assemblies (which are usually about once a month) but attend the others which are led by the head teacher and are more teh kind of thing mrz mentions.
One thing that does annoy me though is that music lessons in this school seem to be practising singing hymns for the assmblies...

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 13:16:30

well i agree with that hagis if they are OTT about religion and you dont agree with it, it thats your right to withdraw yr DC'S, but i do think its wrong they only practice hymns in music for assemblies at my DC's old school if you wanted to sing hymns you joined the choir, music was a mixture of classic and pop and i think should be how boring otherwise

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Mar-11 13:36:32

DDs school used to have lovely non-religious class assemblies ... up to the last 5 minutes where there was always a prayer and a hymn tacked on. The hymn very often was one taking the existence of a Creator God as fact. While this may wash over a lot of kids it does set belief in God as the default 'approved' state of mind. The mildness and sugar-coatedness makes it particularly insidious.

The fact that many schools - probably most non-faith secondaries - do try to avoid assemblies being 'christian worship' shows that this law is an ass and its high time it was repealed.

pinkcushion Mon 07-Mar-11 13:36:43

But my dcs are only being shown how to worship the Christian God - if your intention is to provide a taster why not do the job properly - choose a different God to worship everyday - give them a real choice!

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 14:09:47

this is what i am saying im nota believer but i do think there is plenty of room to do a rota of all faiths in assemblies and my Dc's schools have all done this bar the ecumenical primary we had to take my ds to but some of the posters on here think we shouldnt have worship or any kind, and yes they are entitled to think so but to say scrap it just because you personally think its out dated is just that your personal opinion whilst a majority enjoy the assemblies there are as weve said very few options choose a different school,and or ask about the assemblies in advance, abstain from assemblies, or tell yr DC's in your PO you do not believe in a god and ask them to not close eyes just bow head in silent contemplation of eg people in africa, new zealand ect,,, personally im as i said more bothered at the intolerance of people having a different opinion and what goes on in RE /life skills esp when comes to sex education i totally agree with sex education and was infromed they would be covering it but not told in what way so when my daughter 13 comes home and giggles and tells me what they did today with a condom n pink dildo i wasnt particularly happy either

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Mar-11 14:19:46

Betty, the problem is that it wouldn't be so bad if school assemblies did cover all faiths and none, but a lot don't - in primary anyway they do tend to stick to christianity. You've evidently been luckier than some in how your DCs schools interpreted this law.

'choosing a different school' is a bit hard in practice for most people - if you've already chosen a non-faith school it really shouldn't be necessary. Most parents also find the option of withdrawing their kids from assemblies unacceptable - the non-worship aspects of assemblies are a good thing, part of building the school community, and most kids would hate to be made to feel different.

Teach children about worship by all means - but there is no reason why a state school should be teaching kids to do it, any more than sex ed lessons should involve snogging.

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 14:28:18

i totally agree with you id never condone withdrawing from assemblies i think they are totallly necessary for enriching DC exp , socially warrented and for the community spririt within the school but as its law atm its the only options available , i did also say i had no option myself at one point of sending my DS to the only school who had room which was an ecumenical school wasnt exactly pleased myself as a non believer BUT they did promote a much kinder more tolerant ethos which i did like and that he had not received at other MS state schools before

GoldenBeagle Mon 07-Mar-11 14:41:00

Scotland is not a 'Christian Country'. Being Christian is not part of the constitution and it is run by elected politicians not the church.
It may be largely Christian by culture, habit and many citizens, but that's different. We live in a society where all people should be treated equally, of any religion and none. The government should not be imposing Christian worship in state schools.

Nobody says 'let us pray' in the DCs school, afaik, thank god. wink

missmehalia Mon 07-Mar-11 14:53:50

There are lots of people who support the complete separation of church and state, and when you consider it's legally obligatory to make all children participate in collective worship at the moment, you can see we have a long way to go.

It's not appropriate to have the choice of either excluding your child from the only gathering of the whole school or them being forced to participate in a potentially indoctrinating activity.

I've always thought it disgusting, frankly, it's tantamount to brainwashing in some church schools (we live rurally, and our nearest 3 primaries are all church sponsored.) We give our DD external perspectives to make up for it. But we shouldn't have to.

Religious education, yes, all for it (part of global community, etc). Having a morally upstanding, encouraging, positive school with firm belief in positive values, yes. But teaching children whether or not God/a God exists is their decision alone, it is wrong to make them pray or exclude them.

TimeWasting Mon 07-Mar-11 16:08:08

It is possible to get laws changed you know betty.

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 17:17:44

yes if the majority belive in the change which they dont unfortunately i think its not a good thing if they ram it down the childrens throat perhaps where i live the LA have a different view compared to wherever some of you are living as ive found all the schools ive been involved with quite non religious esp when some of you have discribed rather over zealous assemblies , but the assemblies ive experienced have always been upliftin , included all faiths and been handled in a very generalised manner so as far as im concerned its a case of if it aint broke but from what ive seen it seems completely outragious of anyone to claim (unless their child goes to a specific religion school)and unfounded to imply anyone is brainwashing anyone in fact i more think that of the atheists , trying to influence (or brainwash as some put it) their children that a god doesnt exist... i still as i said earlier think a lot of people do not give their own children credit for having common sense and brains, as like all the other things in life we need to let them decide for themselves a lot of people if you hadnt noticed go to for eg: catholic schools and are quite the opposite as adults they dont all become priests or go knocking door to door , and vice versa some people become religious as adults who never heard a sermon before in their life find god.... there are far more important Laws that need changing or reviewing imho

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Mar-11 18:05:23

>yes if the majority belive in the change which they dont unfortunately

Is that true though? Whenever this issue comes up on MN, it seems that the overwhelming majority would rather not have worship in non-faith schools. Its just not something that politicians ever pick up on - its not exactly the sort of issue that decides whether you would vote for a party or not. But just because its not the most important issue doesn't mean it shouldn't be fixed.

As to brainwashing - IME atheist parents tend to be pretty scrupulous about using the 'some people believe' line. Some religious parents are, many aren't - but parents are parents and have different rights and responsibilities to educators. And atheists don't go into schools peddling their views. There have unfortunately been quite a few threads about small children who've come home adamant on some religious position or frightened by what someone has said in assembly.

mrz Mon 07-Mar-11 18:17:46

but does that reflect the views of the wider population GrimmaTheNome? I don't know the answer all I know is in the school where I teach most parents don't seem to care as long as there are a Nativity and Carols at Christmas and a Harvest Festival but we probably aren't typical because no parents object to collective worship.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Mar-11 18:36:50

I don't know either, Mrz! I never objected to the assemblies at school, DDs school, except once we sent a letter pointing out the inappropriateness of 'Who put the colours in the rainbow' in the context of a particular class assembly. You simply don't make a fuss when your child has put effort into a class assembly or nativity, do you? But that doesn't mean everyone prefers the status quo.

mrz Mon 07-Mar-11 18:47:59

I think it is more a case of majority apathy and minority voices of opposing opinions

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 19:49:04

ahh your probably correct there mrz i really dont think majority are bothered as long as their DC's are learning and florishing and are happy if therefore anyone feels something thats been said or done in an assembly they should complain, i too mrz only know the schools ive visited and all the parents and with 3 DCs ive come to know at preschool first two middle schools and a secondary school no one has ever complained or come out of an assembly moaning they have come out bored sometimes yawning lol and come out happy at seeing their DC singing or reading alloud or taking part but never have any of them said they didnt like the content & or religious slant on the assembly, because there usually isnt one its very non discript other than as you say when in reception they did the nativity since then they have never had a religious assembly even at the religious school my ds went to (the only one to fit him in) at harvest festival the children did a rendition of fields of barley and talked of the starving africans and elderly who thay collected the food for i had a tear in my eye after the song it was very beautiful

RustyBear Mon 07-Mar-11 19:58:25

I was shocked on opening this thread to see that it is too old to contain the now statutory warning, so I felt I should add it here:


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