The Priory CofE - Wimbledon - Too religious?

(70 Posts)
Iamdefinitelyworthit Fri 14-May-10 17:24:49

Hello everybody this is my first post. First of all can I just say I do not mean to offend anybody, this is just my opinion and only applies to me. So! My DC go to the priory cofe primary school in Wimbledon. We are not religious but reluctantly chose this school based on its proximity to where we live as our nearest non-faith school is Garfield which I am not keen on.

From other people's comments I was under the impression that the religious aspect wasn't too strong. However, since the new Head (who has come from Dundonald) started there, I am finding that the school is becoming quite 'militant' in its religious approach.

Assemblies are now called 'collective worship' and children are made to pray. Parents are regaled with a passage from the Bible in every newsletter (I find this wasteful and patronising but mostly boring and no, I don't have to read it). These are just two tiny examples; Religion has basically permeated on every single aspect of education, quite pointlessly in my opinion, and I no longer feel comfortable with my DC attending the school. I find the overall religious approach to be passive-aggressive despite the constant reminders that they believe in community, being inclusive, love to all and so on.

I know you might argue that it is a CofE school and I knew this when my DC started, all I'm saying is that I didn't mind before but I do now. So, bearing in mind I don't want my DC to attend my nearest non-faith school, what do you think my options are? I would be delighted with Dundonald or Pelham. If any of you out there are familiar with The Priory I would love to know your opinions on how things have changed since the new head started. Or am I going mad?? Cheers all.

prh47bridge Fri 14-May-10 17:40:13

I know this isn't answering your question but...

Although many schools seem to ignore the requirement these days, ALL schools are required by law to provide daily collective worship for all registered pupils (except for those whose parents have withdrawn them from this). The worship must be mainly of a broadly Christian nature (except for non-Christian faith schools). So all the new head has done regarding assembly is comply with the law.

Merton is very anti transfers (they say that "very strong evidence will have to be provided in order for a transfer to be approved"), but you could call their School Admissions Team (020 8274 4906) and see what the chances of places for your DCs at Dundonald or Pelham are.

Also, do you work? Could you consider HE while your children are primary aged if you can't find a school that suits you?

Iamdefinitelyworthit Fri 14-May-10 18:31:57

Thank you both for your answers. prh47bridge, I am aware that the school is not breaking the law, it is a Christian school after all, I just personally feel uncomfortable with the way the school is going, i.e. too religious for my liking. I realise that a non-faith school would also have to provide worship of a christian persuation but I would hope that apart from that, religion and god would not get mentioned constantly.

Professor, but if I request a transfer based on faith issues, wouldn't I have a case? My issue is that garfield would be the obvious offer for my DC and would not transfer my DC to that school despite being non-faith.

Iamdefinitelyworthit Fri 14-May-10 18:33:21

Professor, no I'm afraid I would not consider HE because I'm simply not cut out for it and because I believe (and this is only my personal opinion) that the social aspect school provides is extremely important.

prh47bridge Fri 14-May-10 19:11:34

The point I'm making is not that this school isn't breaking the law. It is that you may find that a regular, non-faith school also has collective worship. They are supposed to do so every day. Many don't but that's the law.

If it is simply the worship that you are unhappy with you are entitled to withdraw your DC from worship (and RE). If this is a possibility it might be less disruptive for your DC than a change of school.

Exactly -- I suspect you might persuade them that you have a case for a transfer, but if you are making it a faith issue you might have to accept Garfield if you couldn't get places at Dundonald or Pelham. It can't hurt to call and ask, though.

Iamdefinitelyworthit Fri 14-May-10 20:47:51

prh47bridge, sure yes, I'm with you... I somehow feel though that it's more disruptive to request that my DC are removed from worship because that singles them out; also, it is not only collective worship I feel uneasy about; it's the whole thing really, the direction that this particular school seems to be heading... I just don't feel comfortable anymore.

Professor, if I make it a faith issue, do I need to lay out exactly what the problem is? I mean, most of it is my uneasiness with what I believe is happening, the way the head is recruiting and how much religion seems to be placed ahead of everything else. I don't know... should I start gathering my evidence or just move??

I'm still really keen to hear opinions form people who might know this school first hand.

Iamdefinitelyworthit Sat 15-May-10 07:14:57

Hi I'm going to bump this as I'm keen to hear from people who know the school.

cuppycakesong Sun 16-May-10 13:25:00

MY DC go to Holy Trinity but I was seriously considering changing them for The Priory!! I do not like what you're saying about The Priory though. In the past I have asked about feedback on The Priory and haven't got very far; I'll be checking this thread hoping you get some useful feedback from people in the know!

slummymomma Sun 16-May-10 20:35:18

Cuppy cake - why are you trying to transfer from HT to Priory? Most people seem to do it the other way round. I know HT has gone/is going two form entry but the standard of education at HT is amongst the best in the borough if you look at SATs results and destination of leavers.

cuppycakesong Sun 16-May-10 21:58:37

Hi slummymomma, am I wrong in thinking that HT and The Priory are pretty much interchangeable in terms of SATS results and destination of leavers? I know where to check SATs results but where do you check destination of leavers? Anyway, back to your question, I just feel my DC don't fit in there because they haven't managed to make any friends at all and they hate school. This is a situation that has been going on for 3 years now and nothing seems to change. Every morning is such a struggle I feel really depressed about it. Is The Priory not doing just as well as HT then?

deaddei Mon 17-May-10 11:27:47

Re destination of learners- remember children going to grammars/passing entrance exams are normally tutored...nothing to do with standard of teaching.

slummymomma Mon 17-May-10 11:40:19

The last set of SATs results for HT are better than Priory - though on 'value added' they are both exactly the same. To be honest the majority of the state primary schools in Merton are pretty good.

On destination of leavers the schools normally publish a list of leavers at the end of last year. If I recall correctly there were maybe 6 or 7 (out of 27 or so) that got into grammars and/or independents from HT. HT might let you have the list if you ask. I think this year the results are fairly similar - they'll publish it again I think.

I note deadei comment's about tutoring - it clearly is rife at all primarys anywhere near a grammar school area. However, I don't believe that passing any entrance exam can ever be solely down to tutoring. The school has to provide the foundation on which further work is done - either by a parent and/or tutor. I can say this as the parent of a DC who has been through an entrance exam. My DC passed with the help of a tutor but the school did the bulk of the 'work'.

deaddei Mon 17-May-10 11:50:04

I made the point as schools don't do the vr/non vr for local grammars.
cuppycakesong- it may be hard to get all your dcs in the same school, and what's to say they wouldn't make friends at the Priory?
Do they have friends out of school/go to clubs?

alanyoung1000 Mon 17-May-10 18:14:11

Just a comment, but I believe religion is the greatest impediment to the development of the human race by miles. And on so many different levels. The sooner we abandon it, the sooner people can start taking responsibilty for their own lives and not have to kowtow to the greatest lot of mumbo jumbo ever invented.

Well, that's my opinion.

Iamdefinitelyworthit Tue 18-May-10 12:15:56

Alan, I just think each to their own, but would like for the school to concentrate on educating children, not indoctrinating them with something that should be a private matter. Actually I think the school is SO clumsy, boring and shallow with the way they shove religion down childrens' throats, they're probably educating the future atheists of the world.

cuppycakesong Tue 18-May-10 20:34:44

I know what you mean but my DC do not have problems with socialising with children outside school, clubs, my friends' kids and so on. I just feel they have been unlucky with the mix of children they're with so I don't necessarily thing the pattern will follow in The Priory. I am honestly not sure about The Priory now though! confused

BecauseImWorthIt Tue 18-May-10 20:39:45

Hello, Iamdefinitelyworthit!

Welcome to Mumsnet. smile

Just wanted to let you know that your nickname is very similar to mind - just in case you get some odd replies from people!

JJ6 Tue 18-May-10 20:49:58

My daughter goes to a non-faith school and we have the same problem. No prayer or such in the newsletter but assemblies have bible stories and the children pray. I have met the RE co-ordinator and have been told that children are not expected to pray but can spend time 'thinking about things that make them happy'. However for a 5 year old peer pressure is great so my daughter says that she prays and shows us how to. Our family is aetheist back to my parents and my husbands grandparents. We have been told that evolution is not on the national curriculum and would be to complex to teach!! I asked my daughter if anyone does not attend the assembly (there are a lot of muslim pupils) and she says only people who have been naughty so we would not want to exclude her and when we talk amongst ourself about our concerns she gets quite upset and says that she likes the stories and praying.
God and religeon features strongly in the playground too yesterday the children in line were discussing how God made their shoes. I despair and agree with alanyoung on this subject

Iamdefinitelyworthit Tue 18-May-10 21:32:47

BecauseImWorthIt, I wanted that nickname...sad

JJ6, if my DC went to a non-faith school and they had to deal with all that nonsense I would be fuming. Evolution difficult to teach?! for Darwins sakes...

JJ6 Tue 18-May-10 21:41:18

Thanks 'I am definitely' we try our best at home but it is a bit uphill and I feel sorry for her having to deal with this conflict in what she is told at home and at school. I think she copes well she says - we can say 'Oh my God' because we don't believe in God can't we Mummy!!! I went to a C of E school and turned out as I am but as my partner says this is 2010 not 1978!! I think being in a city is a factor as most of the children are from more religeous cultures than would be representative in the Uk; somalian, nigerian, portugese, algerian, jamaican etc. Lovely kids and families but most if not all are very strong in their belief system.

HeavyMetalGlamourRockStar Tue 18-May-10 21:44:45

There is no such thing as a non faith state school. Our state school does the praying, the Bible stories and the hymms at assembly, but also sees fit to put religious -propaganda- leaflets into bookbags, religious advertisements into the newsletter. I have overheard children in Year 1 say that you'll get into trouble for saying there's no God.
But it's got easier since we've moved on from the "Christian" teacher - I think she had her wings clipped by a very annoyed non-christian parent.
I do find it really creepy that kids are being brainwashed with this nonsense as standard, but be assured that it's not just CofE schools, the state education system is riddled with religion and I'm not sure a school move will necessarily give you enough of what you want.

If it helps, it gets easier as they get older; they start to see religion more for what it is and are happy to allow their classmates to continue in their spiritual journey without them and as they do you'll feel less concerned that any of it is having any impact at all.

JJ6 Tue 18-May-10 23:18:16

I am writing to the local 'Sacre' to express my concerns (I cannot remember exactly what this stands for ... standing conference on ... religeous education). I was told that they agree the structure of RE in schools. They include ministers of all the major faiths, reps from education and have (in my LA) proudly reccently recruited a humanist and a pagan (although pagan has not yet attended - prob stuck in the woods !! lol!!!)

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