Has anyone withdrawn their child from religious worship at school?

(59 Posts)

Not RE. I think RE is an important part of a balanced curriculum smile

Just from being made to actually pray every day.

reggiebean Mon 08-Apr-13 14:17:00

Possibly a different point of view than you're looking for, but my mom enrolled me in a christian school, and we had to go to chapel and pray every day, as well as participate in bible readings. I was about 12/13 when I went, and I really resented it. It felt like a waste of time, I already knew I wasn't religious like my classmates, and I hated every second of it. Thankfully, she pulled me out after one year and put me back in a non-religious school.

Don't know how old your kid(s) are, but if they're old enough, I'd suggest having an honest talk with them about how they feel about the religious aspect of it, and then go from there.

gymboywalton Mon 08-Apr-13 14:19:31

in my experience NO child actually prays during prayer time at school
they pick their noses, or peer through their fingers or play with their shoe laces or nudge their pal or chew on the sleeve of thir jumper.

i wouldn't have thought it was worth pulling them out of prayer time AT ALL

Child in question is 10 and quite vocal in her outrage at being told off for not saying the words when the class are told to pray.

Vocal to me, that is. Her teacher hasn't mentioned it to me so I assume DD isn't being furiously vocal to her in quite the same way grin

BikeRunSki Mon 08-Apr-13 14:24:18

I was withdrawn by my patents.But because they were Catholic and school was CoE. Long Story. I am atheist, probably was in my heart then anyway.

ByTheWay1 Mon 08-Apr-13 14:26:43

I WAS a child who was withdrawn from daily worship by parents and I hated them for it, hated them for singling me out as different... hated them for not just letting me do what everyone else did (I didn't know any active church members) and just sitting there "pretending"....

KnitMinion Mon 08-Apr-13 14:30:05

I have withdrawn my son from religious observation at his school. From what he tells me, he goes and sits outside the school office and reads his book. He is quite happy with this arrangement and we do check with him from time to time.

reggiebean Mon 08-Apr-13 14:31:14

My personal thought is, she's obviously smart enough to realise that the words mean something, so if she's choosing not to say them, get her out. Without knowing your religious beliefs, or how much religion factors into your household, it never does a child any good to have it shoved down their throats. Pull her out and explain why. Be sure to clarify that her being pulled out will cause her to be separated from her friends during that time (I know it sounds silly, but when I was young, I thought if I could get out of it, my friends could too smile) and if she's still okay with that, ask that she be given something else to do during that time.

Well, its a CofE primary school (no choice in the matter in these parts) but the new head is really going overboard on the God stuff IMO...

2 hours a week acting out Bible stories, RE weeks that focus on Christian crosses and nothing else, a peripatetic RE teacher coming in this term to teach them all about the New Testament, DD tells me she has learnt nothing about any other religions so far this year shock (but that last year someone came in one afternoon to talk about Judaism), having to write prayers starting with 'dear God' for homework...

Add in telling off children who don't recite prayers every day and I'm feeling its all a Bit Much and that they have no right to make children play daily lip service to a religion they know damn well isn't practised at home hmm

I know DD and I doubt she would care about being 'ostracised' - just curious as to whether anyone else actually does this apart from JWs (only other family I've ever known to do so)

reggiebean Mon 08-Apr-13 14:41:35

I grew up in the US, so afraid I'm not very familiar with CofE specifically (assume JW is Jehovah's Witness?) but always thought it was quite a casual religion (if that makes sense) so am surprised to hear how "preachy" the school is.

What recourse do you have if there's not another school in your area? Have you spoken to any other mom's at your school? Perhaps if there are more than a few of you who feel this way, you can speak to someone about the new head?

gymboywalton Mon 08-Apr-13 14:41:52

i am sorry you CANNOT send your child to a church school and then moan about it being religious

MadCap Mon 08-Apr-13 14:46:57

Of course she can Gym boy, since they are state funded, and the state doesn't provide a choice of schools in every area.

ImNotCute Mon 08-Apr-13 14:56:55

I wholeheartedly agree with madcap. My dd is in a C of E school but it's not what we chose, it's not our 1st choice school but the one we were allocated. Anyway, EVERY state school in this country is required by law to have a daily act of worship.

DD is only in reception and I've not withdrawn her but may do in future. There is one child in DDs class who is withdrawn already, I think she's from a Muslim family.

gymboywalton Mon 08-Apr-13 15:05:19

church schools HAVE to have a christian ethos
they are not only inspected by ofsted, but are also inspected by a church schools inspector who will be looking at criterai like this

How well does the school, through its distinctive Christian character, meet the needs of all learners?
2. What is the impact of collective worship on the school community?
3. How effective is the religious education?

You can complain as much as you like but if they weren't providing good christian based worship , they would be in trouble with the diocese who provide part of their funding.

MadCap Mon 08-Apr-13 15:11:54

IMO religious schools should be entirely private and paid for by either the parents, religious organisation or some combination of those two. They are by their very nature exclusionary and have no place in the state education system.

SuffolkNWhat Mon 08-Apr-13 15:13:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SuffolkNWhat Mon 08-Apr-13 15:17:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Its not VA. Just a CofE state primary.

I'm mid way through a letter to the head about it, just umming and aahing over whether to make a point by telling them if they don't tone it down then DD will be removed from acts of worship. I'm also making my feelings on the lack of balance/diversity to the RE curriculum very clear indeed and am looking at links now on what should be covered so i can be sure of my ground in that department.

gymboywalton this is THE school locally. There is no choice. Therefore they can blimmin' well make sure it caters to the needs and backgrounds of the families that use it as IMO that is more important than what some religious bods from somewhere else think.

Are there other non-christian families you could join forces with, QOFE? Because if there are a lot of you, it carries more weight to complain that the new head is forcing one brand of mythology on DC at the expense of others and fostering discrimination (which it is).

Mmmmm not really. There's only about 15 sets of parents (and only 33 pupils - this is a tiny school) and most of them are unbothered - I've broached it with the ones who supported me on the Samaritan's Purse thing at Christmas but they have shrugged it off so I am on my own with it I think.

Wellthen Mon 08-Apr-13 17:00:07

I think you're going in a little strong. Address the issue for what it is: your child was ordered to do something that should be a choice.

Who told her off? I would go to this teacher directly and ask if it is a 'school rule' that the children say the words. Explain politely that non-christian children do attend church schools and shouldnt have to pray as long as they are being respectful. If it is argued to be a 'school rule' then I would think about withdrawing.

I don't think the issue is the praying itself as some posters seem to think. Your daughter is clearly mature enough to separate the beliefs of the school and her own beliefs. Saying prayers is fairly common practice in many c of e schools. There is no evidence they are shoving anything down anyones throat.

Wellthen Mon 08-Apr-13 17:01:51

The RE curriculum does depend on the agreed syllabus but in all state schools there is always a greater weighting to Christianity. Its a rule. I agree its potty. But please dont attack the Head for having a curriculum weighted towards Christianity because they have no choice.

All schools in the country are required to have a daily act of worship. This includes the ones that are not church schools. As has been said upthread ofsted is looking for this. You are within your rights to remove your child from acts of worship. In a small school it will single out your child but if you are determined that your child is not going to be asked to pray then that seems to be your only option.

The school assemblies I've been to in church and non church schools are ones where the children don't recite prayers other than the Lord's Prayer and thinking about it I haven't heard them do that for a while. Most assemblies have quiet time where everyone is invited to be still and prayers are said by whoever is leading the assembly. Those that don't want to engage learn to be still for a few minutes which is good thing to learn.

Maybe you could ask to go into school and observe an assembly if you are so concerned about it.

I know what sort of daily worship they are doing (been to assemblies, listened to my DD etc) and it is over and above what is compulsory - its also far more religious generally than church schools attended by my friend's children.

I have no problem with my DC being educated about all faiths and learning about their rituals etc, including by first hand experience. But I feel like the current head is basically promoting and pushing Christianity with no balance or diversity or other faiths being discussed, which wasn't the case when DD started under a different headship 3 years ago.

LadyLech Mon 08-Apr-13 22:41:37

I'm a secondary RS teacher, and I constantly sigh at the poor RS I see going on in primary schools. There was recently a report about it, and the fact that can be so badly taught, esp in recent years with lack of training, specialist teachers etc...

The school should be following a syllabus. Depending on the type of school you are (whether CofE VA or VC) you could either follow the locally agreed SACRE (if VC), or one set down by the diocese (if VA). Obviously the one agreed by the local authority tends to consider more religions etc. You can ask the school to see what syllabus they are following. It will make a big difference to what is being taught and how.

As for the collective worship. I would start with having a friendly word with the head. Personally, we have told DD that she should remain quiet and respectful during personal worship, but she only has to say the bits that she believes in. Therefore, she does not pray (DD1 does not believe, DD2 does). If my daughter was forced to pray, I would have no hesitation in telling the school that they either respect her right to remain respectfully quiet, or I would remove her from collective worship. Most heads tend to accept this!

This is garbled, but I hope it helps.

cumbrialass Tue 09-Apr-13 09:04:22

Actually the 2010 OFSTED report into the teaching of RE also mentioned that "Of particular concern is the increase in the number of secondary schools in which RE was inadequate."!

I'm not sure why there is such a big deal being made here.The school by law has to have a daily act of "broadly christian" worship but your child doesn't have to attend. If you want your child to be removed from Collective Worship, just say so! You have a perfect right to do so, whatever type of school your child is in ( and I say this as a teacher in a church school!)

Merrin Tue 09-Apr-13 10:36:24

The problem with withdrawing a child from the daily act of worship is that it tends to be mixed up with assembly and all the positive things they do in assembly, certificates, news, etc.

Wellthen Tue 09-Apr-13 10:57:09

Lol cumbrialass glad that condescending remark annoyed you too.

The OP hasn't actually said the RE at the school is inadequate. All she has said is that the children say prayers. Why is this seen as 'inredibly churchy' and shoving religion down peoples throats? Surprise surprise most church schools dont exactly think 'whats the bare minimum that we can do Christianity wise?' they think 'how can we use our faith to enrich the lives of our children?'

I really think you simply need to say 'please can my child not be made to say prayers' and that will surfice. The Head will probably be banging her/his head agains the wall to hear that one of his/her staff is forcing children to pray.

Depends: but the sound of it it's the new head that's keen on forcing the DC to actually talk to her imaginary friend.

There is nothing wrong with DC learning to sit quietly and politely while prayers are said by others, it's a skill they may lead in later life (most people at some point will attend something like a wedding or funeral for a friend who is a member of a religion that not all the guests share, and most people will be able to sit there quietly and be polite as they are *supporting their friend*).

There is something wrong with DC being ordered to talk to someone else's imaginary friend when it goes against their own viewpoints and, in some cases, their consciences. And the more insistent anyone is on other people joining in with their specific superstitions, the more unhealthy these superstitions are likely to be eg the more evangelical a schoolteacher, the greater the prospect of misogynism and homophobia being slipped in along with the general mythology.

Groovee Tue 09-Apr-13 11:22:25

Quite a few children are withdrawn in my ds's school which is non Denom when someone from outside who is from a religious body whether it be a minister or a rabbi or a priest. They work with either 2 learning assistants doing games or smartboard time, depending on where they are allocated.

CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 11:49:10

I had this problem at my DC's C of E Primary school (which we had no choice but to go to, as the only non-church within traveling distance was oversubscribed. It was ok in the beginning but after a few years for whatever reason it started to push 'religion' a lot more. The head refused to exempt my DC from the religious stuff as they were fully integrated into topics, activities, assemblies etc.

To say they can just sit quietly if they don't believe is ridiculous. Children aren't old enough to have balanced thought out 'beliefs', they believe what they are told by people in authority like parents and teachers etc. I never found a solution and had to constantly tell my child that the teachers were deluded, wrong and in some cases lying to them. How can a child ever trust a school or teacher when they are subjected to this.

In the end we moved house to get away from it (in time for secondary) but I really despair that in the 21st century religion is still forced upon innocent children at school. Its almost like we haven't left the dark ages.

Ok... this is a primary school, not secondary. And actually, I think the RE teaching is inadequate as the children are taught solely about one religion. I'm in the process of taking that up with the school.

And there are only two teachers and a head at this school. The head is in every assembly and will have seen DD being told off for not joining in with prayers. DD's own teacher is the deputy head anyway so its clearly the 'party line' within the school iyswim.

I would be quite happy with DD being allowed to sit quietly and say nothing during prayers, but she isn't being allowed to. She's being told she has to say the words hmm

I'd be delighted if people from different faiths were invited in to lead assemblies! My objection is that Christianity is being pushed and promoted as The One True Path and whether it is a faith school or not I don't think that's right.

CountingClouds that's the thing - the Christianity aspect is becoming so entrenched into subject areas that it would be impossible to withdraw her from all RE even if I wanted to (which I don't - I just want them to teach it properly!)

But they have no business insisting that children pray if they don't want to or don't believe in it, and that I will tackle them on and refuse to allow.

Wellthen Tue 09-Apr-13 15:51:50

If it is a faith school then during worship they have every right to say that Christian is the only and true way (I do not believe this myself btw so I'm not 'pushing' anything). They do not have this right in RE LESSONS but you havent said she is praying in RE lessons. If you truely believe that her RE only covers Christianity then that does need following up.

It doesnt matter if you do or don't think religion belongs in state schools. This is a church school and therefore they are allowed to say that Christianity is true.

Myliferocks Tue 09-Apr-13 15:53:29

My DC attend a non selective CofE school.
They don't go to the school church services and we've pulled them out of school assemblies.

CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 16:26:09

In tax payer funded state schools, nobody should have the right to indoctrinate innocent children. A lot of parents have very little choice over which school their children attend, and for cults, groups and religions to exploit this to gain control over young people minds is awful.

LadyLech Tue 09-Apr-13 16:29:54

Cumbrialass, have you not read the 2013 inquiry into Re "RE: the truth unmasked"?

It notes that the teaching of RE is dramatically improved in secondary schools, but the use of non specialists is still a problem. But the report clearly states in the study over half of lessons was taught "by someone other than the class teacher" a quarter of lessons RE was taught by teaching assistants which the report said "this is unacceptable and in many cases this has a detrimental impact on the quality of RE"
It goes on to note that "about half of subject leaders (in primary schools) lack the expertise or experience to undertake their role effectively."

I know my own daughter has come home saying that God had a son, called Jesus and Mary was his mummy. Really basic facts like that they're getting wrong. No - Jesus is the Son of God, not God's son in that sense! The notion of the Triune God is a basic Christian concept, but I still have to constantly re-teach students that Jesus is God and not merely the offspring of God and Mary! If I had a pound for every time I corrected a student.... It's these basic facts that are being mistaught, unfortunately.

LadyLech Tue 09-Apr-13 16:31:07

The quotes relate to the continuing problems in primary schools, not secondaries. Sorry on my phone, and didn't make that clear!

cumbrialass Tue 09-Apr-13 16:39:14

Did you send your daughter to a church school?

LadyLech Tue 09-Apr-13 17:05:50

Wellthen "This is a church school and therefore they are allowed to say that Christianity is true."

This is another misconception. Only schools of a 'religious character' are allowed to do this. Whether the school has a religious character will be determined by its trust deeds. However, generally speaking most VC schools follow the local SACREs and most of these do not work from the presumption of faith. Therefore, the guidance is that teachers must teach "Christians believe..." and not "we believe..." etc. Certainly that has been true for the three local authorities / SACREs I have worked under.

However, for VA schools, they do not have to teach the local SACRE and the RS they teach is determined by the school's trust. Most VA schools teach the local diocesan syllabus. However, even then it is worth noting that according to the 2012 government article on Voluntary and faith schools it says:

"Most VA schools are designated with a religious character. Religious education must be provided in accordance with the school's trust deeds unless parents request the agreed syllabus." So even if you are at a VA school, it does not mean that you have to have denominational teaching. This is significant, particularly if you live rurally like I do and your village school is CofE as are the schools in the next closest 7 villages! You may not get a choice of avoiding a church school if you live somewhere like I do.

Cumbrialass Yes, she does. The conversation I had with my daughter occurred only a couple of weeks ago. She goes to a VA school.

LadyLech Tue 09-Apr-13 17:09:11
LadyLech Tue 09-Apr-13 18:12:51

Apologies Wellthen, I think you and I are actually saying the same thing!

I was doing this on my phone earlier - saw what you had said, checked back to see the comment you were referring back to, and then forgot about the bit where you did actually differentiate between RE lessons and collective worship. I thought your last comment was referring to what can be said in Church schools generally and not specifically collective worship.

Note to self - do not make rushed comments on the iphone when your children are hassling you!

(But it is a bugbear of mine. At my DDs last school, which was a community school she still used to come out saying things like 'Jesus died for our sins' and the assumption that Christianity is true when they're not supposed to be doing that!)

Wellthen Tue 09-Apr-13 19:13:36

Ladylech you took the words out of my mouth. You're right, in worship they have every right to treat it as worship, not education. I am not religious but there is almost always a thread on here, bashing a school because they dare to be explicit about their own ethos. The level of misunderstanding of the requirements of all state schools, including church schools is just incredible. People seem to have very little faith in their children to gradually develop their own opinions over time. Or is that they are only comfortable with their children believing what they believe?

Also, this is slightly off topic but you refer to the trinity as a basic fact. In that it is a core belief this is true but I think it is a very complex concept. I wouldn't be too quick to criticise primary teachers if children don't understand this as they may have made every attempt to explain it. My experience is that children, especially as they get older, begin to apply their own reasoning and knowledge. Their minds close for a short while to other's beliefs as the begin to base their own on reasoning and understanding. As they grow they, hopefully, become more open minded and accept the idea of faith and miracle.

Bear in mind many of these children haven't had the opportunity to discuss exactly what virgin birth means and how God 'fathered' Jesus so they assume it is literal, he really is his Dad. Some of the younger ones don't really know what being someon's father actually entails (in terms of biology). God as the father is a metaphor in a way. He has father like qualities. Son refers to the fact that Jesus was made by God. I wouldnt expect children to fully understand religious symbolism until well into KS3.

I'm now confused as to what sort of school it is confused

It is described on its own website as a 'community primary' but according to the link above a community school cannot have a 'religious character'.

So I am assuming it is in fact a VC school that does have a designated religious character?

cumbrialass - believe me, if I lived an area with a choice of schools, my child would not be at a faith school. She's not there for any hypocritical 'but the other local schools are simply dreadful' reasons, she is there because it is the local school and we don't have the means to transport her to the nearest non-faith school (which is about 6 miles away in a town over the country border, crap public transport links, and massively oversubscribed anyway).

And IMO the church has no right at all to monopolise the education of children and so I will do my best to ensure they keep their proselytising to the absolute minimum whilst my DC are in attendance.

Had it been this Christian when DD first started she would not have gone at all, we'd have stuck with HE, but this is down to the current head who wasn't in the post at the time.

Wellthen Tue 09-Apr-13 20:50:38

Does its name have 'c of e' in it? Then it is not a community school. Check the ofsted report online, this will tell you if it is VC or VA. But that will make little difference to the collective worship which is the bit you're concerned about.

And I'll say again: It may well be your opinion that the church shouldn't have any part in your child's education. But they help fund the school so thats just tough. The fact it was your only local option is not their fault. Dare I say I really don't see it as that important, its a tiny part of her day.

CountingClouds Tue 09-Apr-13 23:16:11

The church used to give 10% of the capital repairs to a VC school. They currently give ZERO. Tax payers give 100% of the funding and should not be expected to have their innocent children proselytized to. Its abusive.

Erm, actually from the link above it is not the case that the church funds the school. Its 100% LA funded...

CountingClouds Wed 10-Apr-13 09:06:17

Queen - that is exactly what I said, the church pays zero to the school, its funded entirely by the LA which is 100% tax payers money being used to indoctrinate children.

Sorry, you did - I still had last night's version of the page open when I typed that! It was a response to WellThen not you smile

Wellthen Wed 10-Apr-13 09:51:47

Fair enough, VC schools aren't funded. But really, its not abusive. You're making yourself sound hysterical.

OP you say your daughter doesn't want to say the words and is clear in her own beliefs - so she has been indoctrinated how?

CountingClouds Wed 10-Apr-13 10:38:43

Obviously some people think 'benign' religious views taught as fact in schools isn't abusive. Would you take that opinion for all religious views of all religions can be taught as fact? And who decides what a religious view is? And what point do we draw the line between naturals fact and supernatural opinions? There are many ideas in religion that are abusive to be taught as fact to children.

I personally don't go quite as far as to call it abusive, though I get where you are coming from.

But I certainly think it is manipulative and to some extent exploitative and coercive.

In the same way that minors cannot sign up to a political party and should not be made to chant political slogans or taught political manifestos as truth in schools, I think religion should not hold that place in state funded education.

I think children shouldn't be advertised to, and that includes the state funded/sanctioned advertising of religion in schools.

I know I'm onto a loser there but I'm trying to work out the best way of minimising the impact of it on my children whilst still getting the school education that they are entitled to.

CountingClouds Wed 10-Apr-13 11:11:19

Queen, not wanting to split hairs but ...

You agree it is manipulating, exploiting and coercing children. How is that not abuse?

AbbyR1973 Wed 10-Apr-13 12:23:59

Of course it isn't abusive. What an entirely ridiculous thing to say. I deal professionally with the awful realities of genuine child abuse unfortunately. What an extraordinarily ignorant statement to make. It takes a lot to make me cross but thats just done it. Grrr. Sorry rant over.

AmberSocks Wed 10-Apr-13 12:31:22

there is no such thing as a non religious school in this country,all state schools by law have to have some kind of group worship,unfortunately.

CountingClouds Wed 10-Apr-13 12:31:53

Just because it isn't 'serious' abuse doesn't mean it isn't abuse.

When men exploit women is it ok as long as its, not to serious?
When you allow some exploitation you open the door to more, where do you draw the line?

A child taught to believe in, for example the bible, can grow up to use it as justification to espouse "Spare the rod, spoil the child"

CountingClouds Wed 10-Apr-13 13:05:37

However every parent has the right to have their children excused from worship in any state-funded school. By integrating religion into other aspects of the school day they are denying parents this legal right.

Wellthen Wed 10-Apr-13 17:38:13

Where has the OP said they are being intergrated into the the rest of the day? I'm sorry but I think you're incorrect, worship might happen at any time. Many schools say grace before a meal. Its not hard for children to simply step out of the room for a minute so therefore the right is not denied.

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