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

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

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

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

Euphemia Fri 03-May-13 23:14:04

Daily assembly seems to be the norm in England, from what I read on here.

I teach in Scotland, and we have assembly once a week, but it's rarely religious.

As long as she is also receiving religious education, and you are discussing beliefs, etc. with her at home, I don't see much danger of "indoctrination" from assemblies. smile

DuelingFanjo Fri 03-May-13 23:16:29

I think legally they have to have some collective worship but not daily? Someone who knows more will probably come and explain. I was raised without religion and was kept out of assemblies a bit when I was really little but as I got older I attended them and I still think religion is a made-up pile of rubbish. I feel the same as you about the way young kids have this forced upon them in schools but many people seem to think it should be the status quo for some reason.

reddaisy Fri 03-May-13 23:22:51

Yes I believe it is indoctrination in order to keep the church going. Children are extremely impressionable and they are told these stories as fact and I think it is fundamentally wrong. The school isn't a faith one but does have strong links with the village church I told the head my thoughts when I looked around (I bet they love parents like me!) but I just wish we didn't all just accept this kind of thing in our schools when the vast majority of adults don't go to church.

level3at6months Fri 03-May-13 23:23:14

Does giving her the chance to think about it indoctrinate her more than excluding her from it?

Bunnyjo Fri 03-May-13 23:55:56

DD's school is also not CofE but very closely linked to the village CofE church. They have daily collective worship and the vicar takes assembly once a week.

If you feel that strongly then withdraw her from collective worship, as is your right.

From the DofE website

All maintained schools in England must provide a daily act of collective worship. This must reflect the traditions of this country which are, in the main, broadly Christian.

Parents have the right to withdraw their child from the daily act of collective worship and sixth-formers can decide for themselves whether or not to attend, without giving a reason for doing so. Schools must comply with this wish and must ensure a duty of care for pupils who are withdrawn from collective worship.

Whether you like it or not, the school is merely complying with regulations.

DuelingFanjo Fri 03-May-13 23:56:24

We are all born without religion. Making religious worship a compulsory part of schooling and putting the onus on parents to withdraw their children from that part of the school day is not offering choice, it is treating religion as the normal state of affairs when it really should not be.

It would be so much better if parents were left to do their own thing religion wise, rather than defaulting to religions the norm for everyone.

reddaisy Sat 04-May-13 06:40:24

I am not going to withdraw her and mark her out as different. And it doesn`t give her a chance to `think about it` - it tells her there is a God. I am v happy for her to receive religious education in a context that some people believe x and others believe y.

All English primaries must have a daily act of collective worship. It does not appear to indoctrinate children in the long run - many of my year 6's don't believe in God at the moment.

It seems to wind up a lot of parents, but, if done well, is a positve experience for children which is more about spirituality than Christianity, which should be presented as an alternative - ie 'I believe' or 'some people believe'.

There are lots of threads on here about this.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Sat 04-May-13 06:59:53

I feel sad more parents don't withdraw actually, if that is your view. Why shouldn't people be different? What is wrong with different?

You said in your op that 'some people believe in god but lots of people dont' yet also you are telling your dd she has to go to religious worship to be the same as everyone else.

I bet if all the parents who want to withdraw did withdraw there would be more out of the hall than in it!

chickensaladagain Sat 04-May-13 07:00:20

Dd's school has assembly every day but don't do prayers or bible stories unless its Christmas or Easter

They do -being kind to each other, sporting, charity, class assemblies where they share what they are learning

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 07:21:19

There are no secular state schools. They have, by law, to hold collective worship everyday- see the education acts.
I find the 'indoctrination to keep the churches going' very funny- if it was true the churches would be overflowing on Sundays!
Children are not silly- they make up their own mind. One thing is for sure an adult never says 'I am an atheist' , 'I am a Christian' etc 'because my mother/teacher was' .

chickensaladagain Sat 04-May-13 07:24:33

Dd's school has assembly every day but don't do prayers or bible stories unless its Christmas or Easter

They do -being kind to each other, sporting, charity, class assemblies where they share what they are learning

NynaevesSister Sat 04-May-13 07:24:46

No sons school has never done this daily worship thing. We are in London.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 07:25:41

Threads like this turn up every few weeks- so many parents appear to have no understanding about the history of education and the education acts. If they went to a UK primary school themselves I don't see how they missed it, unless it was back when schools could be more relaxed in what they did, or they were at a faith school and didn't realise that those of us at community schools had a very similar experience.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 04-May-13 07:26:27

I am not going to withdraw DS, but will say 'different people believe different things' and it is up to you to decide what you believe.

Blu Sat 04-May-13 07:28:21

Two assemblies a week, never religious. They did observe cultural religious festivals, Christmas, Easter, Harvest, but not with praying. Frosty The Snowman and Rudolph at the carol service, harvest was generally songs about food from around the world.

It is an 'outstanding' school, too, so not sure what happened when Ofsted went in. Certainly DS has never said the Lord''s Prayer in primary or secondary.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 07:28:52

Do you know this for a fact,Nyna? I could have easily assumed the same with my DSs, had I not been a supply teacher at their school and attended some. They are breaking the law unless they have all the correct paperwork which isn't easy to get. It must also come up with Ofsted who will be looking at the spiritual side.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 07:30:20

As a supply teacher I have never had the Lords Prayer at any assembly.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 07:31:36

Generally the prayer is a time of reflection- they can make it a prayer, if they wish, by saying amen.

exoticfruits Sat 04-May-13 07:32:48

It depends very much on how the Head interprets the education act.

JakeBullet Sat 04-May-13 07:35:31

Not in my DS's school....and it's a catholic one. They have an assembly once a week which is a "Celebration Assembly" where they give out rewards, certificates etc....in other words it's a celebration of achievements by the children, then again 40% of the children are not Catholic so a religious assembly would not be appropriate.

Even the "Grace" said at lunchtime is "Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub", much to the delight of the children grin

lougle Sat 04-May-13 07:40:34

I was at DD2's school for an assembly a few weeks ago. It was on healthy living. The Christian element was a one line prayer, thanking God for the food we eat. Hardly indoctrination.

reddaisy Sat 04-May-13 08:25:29

I am well aware that there are no secular state schools and of my right to withdraw her but the point of my thread was to determine how schools interpret it. Daily collective worship for school which is not a faith school sounds excessive to me. Obviously I have not had a chance to observe said assemblies at DDs school yet as she hasn't started. To say that children do not take on the beliefs of their parents and teachers is naive. And even thanking God for food is wrong in my opinion, I might as well tell her that power rangers are real!

JakeBullet Sat 04-May-13 08:47:57

Do ey have to be thanking "God" though? Surely a collective "thank you that we are fortunate enough to have enough food to eat" is fine. It doesn't have to be to "God". Even my so 's Catholic school doesn't name "God" in their lunchtime "thank you for the food". It's literally as I said below. Nowt wrong with that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come to live in Italy!

We have no religious assembly every morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You do have the right to withdraw them.

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

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

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

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

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

Excellent posts by ExoticFruits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a london state school that offers the IB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You're right - I used the wrong word. I simply meant a state school that had no affiliation to any faith or church.

exoticfruits Sun 05-May-13 10:29:41

Unfortunately so much is written about faith schools that people assume that schools that are not faith are secular. In reality there is little difference and it is quite possible that a non faith school can be more religious than a faith school. It depends largely on the Head.

noramum Sun 05-May-13 10:31:01

DD (non-church school) has a daily assembly but it is not religious every day. Additionally they have RE lessons where they cover the main religions so she came home with the story behind Diwali, Hannukah, and Ramadan in addition to Easter, Christmas and recently Noah's Ark.

At the moment, she is nearly 6, she believes in God. But I think she believes in him equally like she thinks the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas are real.

Neither DH or I are religious but I respect religions and I want DD to learn about them. As long as she is also taught that people don't believe in god and some believe in different ones I don't care if the school teaches RE.

Some of her friends grow up in religious families and DD asked why we didn't arrange a christening for her. We explain that we believe each person can make their own minds up when they are adults as long as they know what they want and learned about it.

exoticfruits Sun 05-May-13 10:35:55

Faith schools have to teach all religions in RE.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Sun 05-May-13 13:20:36

As an atheist I dislike the inclusion of religious worship in schools but the secondary schools I worked in loosely adhere to the regulations but have a moral theme in form and assemblies. I'm not so sure of the practise in primaries but I do know that my dd spouts some stuff about god, but we discuss it and hopefully over time she will learn to evaluate it for herself. as a previous poster says, better to know your enemy.
Also, I said the Lord's Prayer every day at school yet I'm totally atheist so clearly did me no harm at all and in fact I miss the singing as schools no longer sing hymns. Still love 'when a knight won his spurs'.

jamtoast12 Sun 05-May-13 21:14:46

Our rc school only has assembly once per week!

Haberdashery Sun 05-May-13 23:22:24

Not all schools make their collective worship explicitly religious or explicitly related to any one religion. DD's school has prayers in daily assembly, for instance, but the children are invited to 'pray to your god if you have one and if not then think about the words of the prayer'. As the prayers tend to be of the entirely uncontroversial nature of being grateful for having good things in our lives and being compassionate towards others, I don't have a problem with this, as an atheist who considers those principles worthy and important.

Haberdashery, is that a church school?

Haberdashery Mon 06-May-13 20:18:00

No, just a normal community primary.

Hulababy Mon 06-May-13 20:25:55

DD goes to an independent primary, which has a CofE leaning, and yes - they have a daily assembly which is religious, involves prayer and hymns.

I work in an infant school - state, non church school and with a very truly mixed intake. We have assembly 3 times a week but there is no religious element at all. No prayers and all songs are generic assembly type songs and no reference to any form of god, etc. They talk about moral/ethical type stuff, just without a religious leaning.

They do, however, do a Christmas nativity and they recognise Easter too. We also have an Eid party, and we cover Diwali and Hannukai too, and Chinese New Year - all outside of RE lessons due to the nature of the children's backgrounds.

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