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to consider sending DC to a Catholic school although I'm an atheist?

(104 Posts)
YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Sun 07-Jul-13 23:12:23

but its exam results are streets ahead of any other school in the area! So good that I think I could let Jesus into my life in spite of not believing in Him...

Whippetwarmer Sun 07-Jul-13 23:38:54

I went to a rc primary school for 6 years and I loved it. The nuns were great and we did loads of really creative projects and lots of outdoor learning. BUT there was an awful lot of religious stuff too. From year 4 onwards we would spend a large section of time every day reading aloud from the Old Testament, and the nuns would drum it into us that we would burn in hell if we had sex before marriage etc. there would definitely be no way your child could attend a rc school and 'opt out' of the religious stuff, you'd have to accept that. I am not religious now as an adult and my parents weren't at all religious when I was a child and I don't think enduring all the bible reading and trips to church etc when I was younger did me any harm. It was a very caring environment.

3littlefrogs Sun 07-Jul-13 23:43:41

Most faith schools are voluntary aided and therefore get less state funding than other state schools.

100 years ago the only schools were faith schools. It was the church that built schools and provided education. I suppose it would be possible to close down all the faith schools, but I would imagine it would be expensive to replace them all with new schools built and funded by the state. (The state does not own the buildings or grounds of VA schools, neither does the state fund repairs and maintenance). Presumably the pupils, whose parents are taxpayers, would still be entitled to a state education?

I think it will take time for things to change. The current situation is complex. I think one of the issues is why are so many schools are so poor that nobody wants to send their children to them. That is in spite of having huge amounts of funding, state of the art language labs, computer systems and everything else.

It is mostly parents who make the difference to how a school performs.

I think YABU because you need to look into it in a lot more depth and think it through very carefully. (If your children were not baptised into the catholic faith before they were 6 months old, you wouldn't get in anyway).

littleginger Sun 07-Jul-13 23:55:50

I agree with others that there is no opt out at a catholic school. I went to catholic primary and secondary. At primary we sang hymns in the morning (they were more like nursery rhymes but with jesus in it), learnt parables from the bible (all the ones with good morales etc) and did readings at special masses at parish church but it was nice and exciting at the time. At secondary except for a few assemblies at special times of the year, a mention in the mission statement and R.E., god didnt get a look in!

As this was my upbringing i wouldnt mind my dd experiencing this however if you did not have this then it may all seem very odd. Your dc will be expected to have first communion, confession (lots of repenting for sins) and be confirmed.

Think about it.

OhDearNigel Mon 08-Jul-13 00:10:24

Why why why when the whole ethos is based on something you don't believe in?
Actually one of the principal tenets of church sponsored education is spreading the Word and providing a good education for those that otherwise would be without

Ergo church schools really should only be open to non christians and/or the disadvantaged. Not middle class children whose parents have the wherewithall to manipulate the system

morethanpotatoprints Mon 08-Jul-13 00:21:34

My ds2 went to an outstanding Catholic school.
We moved mid year and ds1 had a place at the community school next door, but wasn't a place there in ds2s year.
If you value individuality don't do it. if you don't want your child to stand out, don't do it.
From what I have heard they are all pretty similar in respect of moulding little kids into an ideal. All the same like little soldiers in a box.
We moved him next door 3 years later when a place was available.
It ruined his education, soul, and sanity according to him.
I feel as though I helped to fail him, even the at the time I had no option.
The school was fantastic for that type of child, heavily oversubscribed and so many parents were envy when they knew how ds2 had gained a place.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 08-Jul-13 00:30:15

Meant to add, the results were the best in the county. Also, we too aren't Catholic but lived in the Parish.
Not sure what the rules are now but the school agreed to ds2 as there were no other schools with places where I could also be on time for ds1 and he was one of 10% non catholic allowed at the time. He was the only one, all the others were heavily involved with the church and whilst they welcomed us at school, mums lovely and friendly ds2 was still an obvious outsider.
Please don't do it if you have another choice.
I'm sure they are brilliant for Catholic baptised children, involved in church and Parish.

EllieArroway Mon 08-Jul-13 00:36:17

100 years ago the only schools were faith schools. It was the church that built schools and provided education

Yes. And all hospitals were opened/run by Christians. As were all charitable endeavours.

That's because everyone was a Christian - so EVERYTHING was "faith based". (All the murders, rapes & appalling human rights abuses were also perpetrated by Christians, but let's not mention that bit).

We've moved on and grown up (some of us) & we don't need to pretend that we're working on behalf of some celestial dictator in order to educate our children and care for the sick.

It appals me, really really appals me that anyone thinks it's OK to use state education to indoctrinate children* - and then to have the utter cheek to try excluding the children of free-thinkers who are determined that their children should be allowed to make up their own minds. Disgusting.

*If you tell your child, or allow someone else to, that God is real & this is how "he" wants you to live your life, then you ARE guilty of indoctrination. Sorry about that.

cantspel Mon 08-Jul-13 00:41:35

There is some pretty weird ideas about catholic schools as this thread shows.

My sons catholic school has no idea when he last went to confession nor do they have any interest in ensuring he goes (just as well as he hasn't been in years)
Catholic children are just like any other children of secondary school age. Some are into the goth thing, some are sporty, some are not, some are arty, some a right dramlama's, some are lazy and some are hardworking. We even have gay children all being educated within a catholic school.

So if you are offered a place and you think the school would suit your child then accept it.

squoosh Mon 08-Jul-13 00:43:32

I went to Catholic schools and emerged unscathed!

squoosh Mon 08-Jul-13 00:45:07

I always made a point of refusing confession during school mass, I told them confession was just mind control, that was allowed, even if I did get a vague pursed lip.

bearleftmonkeyright Mon 08-Jul-13 02:26:38

I went to a catholic school, from a catholic family. It seems an odd thing to do if you are atheist. You have to accept that doctrine is woven into all aspects of school life. It is more than just about you pretending to find Jesus. If you don't accept that I think you will struggle to settle your child as you will have no faith in what the school is doing. Yabu.

CheerfulYank Mon 08-Jul-13 02:41:06

It seems a bit odd to me, but then in my country we have the option of non-religious government funded schools. In fact that's all there are. smile

I am deeply religious in my own way but don't believe in government funded faith education.

I wouldn't if I were you, but again I don't really have a frame of reference for how I'd feel about it.

sashh Mon 08-Jul-13 05:03:13


Why are the results the best?

Are they selecting by the back door?

What progress do children make in the school? How many children with SN do they have? Some children with some SN will never obtain a qualification, if they are artificially kept out of the school then this will affect the school's results and effect the results of the school that child attends.

I went to RC schools, I survived, I did not emerge unscathed.

CSIJanner Mon 08-Jul-13 06:22:14

My eldest got into a Catholic primary. There were 30 places, 130+ applications out of which, 45 were from Catholic families. All of the places were filled with Catholics.

My advice - you can apply but would probably want to check the entry criteria before. For LO's primary, the pecking order was foster/children in care, Catholics, siblings of those already attending, everybody else. Apparently CofE is more open, allowing. Those closest to attend and those with attending siblings high in the pecking order,

exoticfruits Mon 08-Jul-13 06:34:43

I would go for it, if it is definitely the best school. Your DC is the child of an atheist- who knows what they will be when they make up their own mind?
I am surprised that there is no opt out- have things changed? My parents considered one for me at 11yrs but would have opted me out.

If it is as good as you say, and so much better than the rest, I would be surprised if you got a place. I would get a copy of the entrance criteria first, find out how many apply for how many places, and how many go to appeal and how many get in on appeal, before you waste a choice.

Debsndan Mon 08-Jul-13 06:59:42

Don't forget as well that if you're not Catholic, the other parents there will be, and may take a dim view of your actions. And at least some of the school gate chat won't mean much to you - preparation for communion, confession, church activities etc, not to mention swapping strong novenas! grin

And I'm laughing at opting out if the religios part - in many schools its not just a subject that's taught, it pervades into absolutely every level and aspect of school life (which is kind of the point of the school in the first place.)

Debsndan Mon 08-Jul-13 07:02:54

Ours is voluntary aided and the school donates 10% of all expenditure to the church and the parents are expected to make up the difference. That was a shock - being told to set up a significant direct debit at our first school meeting!

curlew Mon 08-Jul-13 07:03:51

The results are only good because they are selective.
Education is more than SATs results- are 3 5s worth 7 years of Roman Catholic education, with all that means in terms of a very specific moral and spiritual standpoint?

Eyesunderarock Mon 08-Jul-13 07:09:22

Our Catholic secondary does indeed have excellent results, significantly ahead of the other three nearest. Look at the admission criteria, your DC would be about 10th on the list. Anyone who isn't one of the first three categories is unlikely to get in.
So you can try, but if they get in, you may well struggle with the pervasive nature of catholicism. Are they are a feeder school for the secondary?

livinginwonderland Mon 08-Jul-13 07:12:43

I wouldn't. I went to a religious (methodist) school and I was atheist, as were my parents. The school "accepted people of all faiths and backgrounds" but 99% of the kids were religious and I was in a very small minority and it was obvious. I stuck out like a sore thumb and it was horrible. Educationally, the school was good - small classes, good results etc, but it focused so much on religion (daily assemblies/prayers, RE lessons pretty much daily, for example) that if you weren't methodist, or least Christian, you were never going to be a part of it all.

Eyesunderarock Mon 08-Jul-13 07:13:44

OP, are you talking about secondary or primary?

Areyoumadorisitme Mon 08-Jul-13 07:29:21

I wouldn't either.

I went to a catholic primary but a non denominational grammar. My sister went to catholic school all way through. Our family were practising Catholics. There were a few and I mean a very few non Catholics in the primary school.

I remember being totally shocked when I went to the grammar to find that the whole world wasn't catholic and that there was a different world out there. Yes I remained catholic but it really made me think I had been indoctrinated by the catholic school system. I decided then that I wouldn't send my children to a catholic school.

My sister had a good education but I think mine was more rounded. My dc go to non denominational local primary and secondary. There is not a local catholic school but even though mine would probably meet the criteria to get into one they would have to travel to, I wouldn't choose it.

The idea of selecting a catholic school and opting out of religion is also somewhat ridiculous, it is part of the ethos and the way of life. Why would you pick something fundamental that you don't agree with??

Toadinthehole Mon 08-Jul-13 07:29:30


Society has indeed progressed from the nineteenth century (due in part to Church-led improvements), but you do not appear to have grown up. There is no reason why parents should be obliged to accept non-religious education, given that it remains the choice of a significant proportion of parents. Given that the majority of religious schools in the UK are CofE. They do not produce legions of terrorists. It is undemocratic to deny parents choice in this respect.

I'm happy to say that my atheist father, while disagreeing with my beliefs, at least has respect for them.

In response to the OP, I am confused. There is more to education than exam results. If you do not believe in God, why would you want to send your child to a school that teaches belief in God, even if its exam results are a bit better?

bearleftmonkeyright Mon 08-Jul-13 07:42:09

Catholic schools, you cannot "opt out" of the catholic stuff. It is woven into the fabric of school life and there will be an influence on what your child actually learns. You have to accept that if you choose a catholic school for your children. Not all are selective.

noblegiraffe Mon 08-Jul-13 07:49:41

Remember the anti-gay marriage petition sent round catholic schools?

I think people in the UK who are used to the CofE really don't know how bonkers the Catholic faith is either.

I went to a catholic school, I'm now an atheist. There is no way I would send my kids to a catholic school.

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