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AIBU to not want to pay for religious sports coaching

(43 Posts)
spudfield Mon 25-Sep-17 20:12:43

background: I live in NI. The majority of schools here are 'catholic' or 'protestant'. Secular (integrated) schools are much rarer and one doesn't exist in my area.

The (rural) primary school my kids are at is pretty religious. Much more so than my (suburban) primary growing up. An example would be that last year when I enquired if the school disco at the end of October was fancy dress, I was sternly informed that Halloween is a 'Taboo Festival' and it was an 'end of term' disco.

I am an atheist, DH is more agnostic. I accept that there will always be an element of religion at primary school, religious assemblies, church services at certain times of year, etc. It was the same when I was a kid and well, it's normal here. I don't mind this, I attend where necessary and support the children - the kids seem to enjoy it and I say nothing about my own feelings on religion. The odd thing raises an eyebrow, such as bringing home a book on the life of Martin Luther as an end of term present (from a religious organisation similar to the one below) but on the whole I roll with it.

My child came home from school a few days ago with a letter in the book bag, stating that from now until the end of the year child is to wear sportswear rather than uniform to school one day a week, as a religious organisation will be coaching them in a sports activity on a weekly basis (during normal school hours). The letter goes on that the organisation performs this service for free, but a voluntary donation of 50p/week (£17.50 for the year) is requested to support the organisation's work.

I looked up the organisation online and the focus appears to be very much on spreading the gospel, rather than the sporting activity.

AIBU to not want to financially support this organisation? I didn't send 50p last week (more because i forgot, rather than a deliberate action) and received a 'reminder note' to please send in the 50p. I don't want my child to be treated differently just because I/we don't agree with this practice, but teachers would definitely judge us. DH is swinging more towards paying just to stay below the radar. It's the kind of community that frowns at you if you mow the lawn on a Sunday. But paying for this unwanted extra-curricular activity really sticks in my throat. Not the sport, that would be fine and I would pay (and have paid, actually, last year, for coaches from the sport's own governing body to take classes). AIBU?

Caulkheadupnorf Mon 25-Sep-17 20:15:33

Is it YFC doing it? They run a lot of sport stuff in schools but it's the sports team rather than the evangelism team if that makes sense.

Belindaboom Mon 25-Sep-17 20:16:01

How odd! I don't think YABU but I'd probably pay for an easy life.

Are you able to say what the organisation is? Is there a religious element to the tuition at all? Are they qualified to coach in it?

If they're qualified coaches I'd be more likely to pay. 17.50 per term per chld adds up confused

Eve Mon 25-Sep-17 20:16:40

Not BU, but it's NI and it's difficult. Are they intending to pray before hand? Can you make it clear no religious teaching?

(And a good reminder to me why I left!)

Expemsiveuniform Mon 25-Sep-17 20:18:20

Coaching for Christ?

spudfield Mon 25-Sep-17 20:20:30

Expemsiveuniform has it. I don't know if the coaches are qualified or not.

newtlover Mon 25-Sep-17 20:20:36

'thank you for drawing this to my attention, however my charitable giving is already committed'

Expemsiveuniform Mon 25-Sep-17 20:23:32

They weren't the worst to be fair and the coaches were qualified at my Ds school anyway.

Numbsnet Mon 25-Sep-17 20:26:28

There's a big movement towards choice I'm the rest of Ireland at the moment and the government run schools (although only 12 so far) have agreed to remove sacre mental prep from school time. Its fine if you have the choice of a non religious school, but when it's your only school they need to make it suitable for non followers and asking you to support a religious body by paying them money every week is awful.
I would write a note saying you don't wish to donate to that particular charity for personal reasons. You have a right to keep your religious views private and don't need to declare them.
The sooner that education and religion get separated from each other the better, in my view, the better.

Numbsnet Mon 25-Sep-17 20:28:35

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Belindaboom Mon 25-Sep-17 20:34:06

Numbsnet that's uncalled for. If NI has similar rules to Scotland they won't need to be vetted as they don't sound like they work one on one with the pupils.

I think it's a really difficult one given you're getting no option on it.

Expemsiveuniform Mon 25-Sep-17 20:36:19

What happens in Ireland has precisely fuck all relevance to Northern Ireland.

placemark123 Mon 25-Sep-17 20:41:01

Er... rest of Ireland is an interesting comparison as a nearby state/administration with traditionally a lot of religious education in schools? I've moved from a more secular place back to NI and although am lucky enough to have kids at integrated school am still surprised at the level of religion in schools compared to other parts of the U.K. I've been exposed to.

OP, that ALL sounds quite bonkers. What is their provision for non-Christian kids, or are there none?

Expemsiveuniform Mon 25-Sep-17 20:41:54

I don't think so because this is a state school in the uk which is merely obliged to have a form of religious worship. Etc.

ferrier Mon 25-Sep-17 20:45:33

You need dbs clearance in UK for all contact with children, whether 1-2-1 or not.

WaxOnFeckOff Mon 25-Sep-17 20:53:34

I hate this stuff. The religious people who run these things or schools that get them in don't see anything wrong with it becasue they are religious.

I don't know what you should do OP, what does your son think?

I paid for my son to go on a bonding day when he started high school. Turns out it was run by a religious organisation and they were preached at during their lunch and told to pray in the way they do that doesn't give choice.

To be fair to my DS he just sat quietly but he felt awkward and put on the spot. Religion really shouldn't have any place in school. It should be a private thing.

spudfield Mon 25-Sep-17 20:56:47

placemark Clearly one can't generally tell these things just by outward appearance, but certainly I have encountered no children that have any obvious signs of having another religion. I'm not sure there are any provisions for non-christian children at the school. It is the polar opposite of a multi-cultural area!

placemark123 Mon 25-Sep-17 21:02:59

Oh that sounds so nightmarish! Does he really have to stay at the school?

donquixotedelamancha Mon 25-Sep-17 21:09:35

YANBU. Just explain that you don't want to donate to that organisation.

Anything more than a gentle request for donations over a mandatory activity in school time is a little inappropriate anyway.

"What happens in Ireland has precisely fuck all relevance to Northern Ireland."

It's interesting to look at practice in nearby foreign countries. In France there is absolutely no religious elements permitted in schools at all.

"OP, that ALL sounds quite bonkers. What is their provision for non-Christian kids, or are there none?"

The whole UK system has a religious dimension. 'Daily acts of worship' are mandated in all schools, though many don't actually do it.

I don't see a big problem in this case provided the sports coaches are not inappropriately proselytising. If they do, complain about the specifics.

donquixotedelamancha Mon 25-Sep-17 21:12:47

"Oh that sounds so nightmarish! Does he really have to stay at the school?"

Quite a low bar for 'nightmarish' there. The school reflects the culture where the OP lives. I'm sure the OP is raising confident kids who can hold their own views while tolerating the culture of others.

Belindaboom Mon 25-Sep-17 21:14:17

it depends if the person is supervised or not ferrier in Scotland. Our rules are different and we don't have DBS clearances at all. I wasn't sure if NI was the same as us.

bridgetreilly Mon 25-Sep-17 21:20:29

I think it's perfectly reasonable to check that the sports instruction doesn't include any religious elements(!) and also to say that you prefer not to make a voluntary donation to that particular organisation. But I think it would be a bit unreasonable to withdraw your child if it is just some people who happen to be Christians teaching football, or whatever.

WaxOnFeckOff Mon 25-Sep-17 21:28:12

The whole UK system has a religious dimension. 'Daily acts of worship' are mandated in all schools, though many don't actually do it.

Daily Acts of worship are not required in Scotland which is still in the UK. There does have to be some religious observance but you can opt your child out of that and also religious education if you want to.

Ttbb Mon 25-Sep-17 21:33:41

If you don't agree with it don't pay. Quite frankly spreading the gospel under the guise of sporting activities to young and impressionable children of unsuspecting parents is a bit sinister.

LivLemler Mon 25-Sep-17 21:39:02

I thought Ireland was religious until I moved to NI. grin

That really sucks OP. Does your DC have a religion recorded with the school or is it just assumed? I think I'd refuse to donate. You could be as explicit or vague as you like about the reason for that.

Completely agree that religion has no part in a state school. Hoping our unborn DC gets into local integrated school when the time comes. Neutral Christian, yay... confused

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