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To not want ds's headteacher to be telling reception the story of the 10 lepers on their third day?

(64 Posts)
bearsmom Mon 10-Sep-07 18:50:23

DS (4.5, started school last week) came home from school today and happened to mention that the headteacher at his school came to his class today to tell them a story. That's nice, I said. Yes, he said, it was the story of the ten lepers. What, leopards? I said. No, lepers, he said. shock He then asked what lepers are so I explained as best I could.

I'm an atheist and so is DH, but all the schools around here are CofE voluntary aided or voluntary controlled so we had no choice but to send him to a "religious" school. In every other way it seems fine, and I knew when we applied for a place at the school that they'd be telling him bible stories (and I'm explaining to him that to us they are just that, stories) and going to church services. But somehow I wasn't expecting to have to explain to a 4.5-year-old about lepers and leprosy. It's a bit of a leap from teddy bears and bunnies!

Are there any other non-religious parents out there who have kids at a church school that really pushes religion? Or anyone else out there who has an opinion on this? I'm confident we can balance things out by making sure ds knows that people have a wide range of beliefs but I guess I'm just really shocked at the extent of the religiosity at his school and wonder if this school is unique.

2shoes Mon 10-Sep-07 18:54:18

ds went to a church school. I thought he would just learn the stories. I admit to being shocked to hear them doing hail mary in assembly.

harpsichordcarrier Mon 10-Sep-07 18:56:32

it's tricky isn't it?
I am in a very similar position to you, i.e. no real choice but to send dd1 to a CofE school.
I think it is too soon to draw any conclusions though. he has only been there a week after all.
stay calm about it and just deal with the issues as they arise.
you have my sympathies.

foxinsocks Mon 10-Sep-07 18:57:09

lol (at lepers and leopards)

I'm sorry, I know it's not funny blush.

I think religious schools do teach them about other religions too. I'm against religious schools tbh, so I won't offer my opinion on them!

MaryAnnSingleton Mon 10-Sep-07 19:01:29

lighten up - it won't harm them - I went to a Catholic primary and we were totally immersed in religion - we also learned about other religions too - it didn't harm my young psyche I promise !

muppetgirl Mon 10-Sep-07 19:09:00

I am amazed that you are surprised religion is 'pushed'in a c of e school!

The headteacher will probably be a practising Christian so his religion would be of fundamental importance to him and his work.

Not sure of the content of the story though, do you know the story yourself?

hercules1 Mon 10-Sep-07 19:11:23

That's appalling that you have no choice but to send your child to a school where through no fault of your own you cannot support the ethos and it goes against your own beliefs. I would be shouting from the rooftops if I were you.

Wisteria Mon 10-Sep-07 19:14:21

View the stories as that 'stories', good moralistic ones for the most part tbh.
How would you feel though if your dcs wanted to become Christians? Would you prevent it?
My dd got very 'Christian' when at her first primary school and so I took her to church as that was what she wanted to do. Knowing about the religion is not likely to harm her/ him is it?

Freedom of choice IMHO

Twiglett Mon 10-Sep-07 19:15:10

religion is also pushed in our community school

I hate it too ... its such superstitious nonsense IMO

especially when your child turns into a fervent believer and you're standing there biting your tongue .. don't worry they'll grow out of it

Wisteria Mon 10-Sep-07 19:17:32

grin at biting your tongue - I had to seriously turn away as I was told not to hurt the red ants in our garden which were biting all the dcs because my then 5yrold dd2 said

"but Mummy, they're all God's creatures and you shouldn't hurt them" FFS!!!

foxinsocks Mon 10-Sep-07 19:18:18

I'm trying to remember what the moral of the story was with the 10 lepers.

Was it something about coming back and being thankful (didn't only one come back to thank Jesus or something like that)?

Bit complex for reception though I would have thought.

Hulababy Mon 10-Sep-07 19:19:07

DD goes to a private school which is a CoE school as well. But even they don't have this amount of religious stuff - just assemblies and hymns, grace and Lord's Prayer I think.

bearsmom Mon 10-Sep-07 19:20:06

Muppetgirl, the basic message of the story (if my internet research is correct) is about the importance of being grateful and thanking people (the 10 lepers are healed but only one comes back to say thanks), and I completely agree with the message.

To clarify, there are two things that bother me about this. The first is the extent to which religion is being pushed to such young children, especially given the fact that we had absolutely no choice (other than home educating) but to send our child to a CofE school. The second is the subject matter of the story. As I said, it's a big leap from the stories about bunnies and teddies the kids were having read to them at nursery until July.

Fox, I thought the lepers/leopards thing was pretty funny too. smile

And I'm trying not to take this all too seriously. I too went to schools which were nominally CofE (in the private sector) and came out relatively unscathed. It's just that dealing with such subject matter so early on strikes me as wholly inappropriate (and I'll be casually mentioning this to ds's teacher tomorrow).

Wisteria Mon 10-Sep-07 19:21:14


morningpaper Mon 10-Sep-07 19:23:39

These stories (and prayers) will be heard every day.

They are the background myths to a religious school - just the same as Disney stories are the background myths that your own children already hear every day.

They might seem alien to you but these stories will become very familiar to your child. It is part of their wider education - Bible stories are part of their cultural and historical heritage.

morningpaper Mon 10-Sep-07 19:24:59

You should also take consolation from the face that the Church of England is hardly known for it's widespread succesful mission to win the hearts and minds of young people. If you would like to reassure yourself, pop into your local parish church next Sunday. You will not find many brainwashed children from your local school.

Wisteria Mon 10-Sep-07 19:25:46

I just went on to internet and looked through, there was a site called sermons for kids which had this as a power point presentation (very child friendly). If he was using that version, then it was just about thanking God and Jesus and was probably used as a 'thank you' lesson so probably not too much to be worried about.

bearsmom Mon 10-Sep-07 19:28:02

Wisteria, I definitely wouldn't want to prevent ds from becoming a Christian (or joining any other recognised religion) once he was old enough to make an informed choice because I don't think I'd have the right to dictate to him. But I would do my best to make sure he was properly informed and had the intellectual tools to analyse belief systems rather than following them blindly.

BTW by "recognised religion" I mean the main world religions. If he wanted to become, for e.g. a Scientologist, I'd be a bit freaked out to say the least grin

bearsmom Mon 10-Sep-07 19:33:11

MP I totally agree about bible stories being part of ds's (and mine and dh's) cultural and historical heritage and don't object to them as part of his general education. He's been read bible stories before, it's just the leper one seems a very odd choice for children so young.

Wisteria Mon 10-Sep-07 19:33:16

Don't blame you!!

Me too, just wondered how you intended to deal with it as it happened to me. I dutifully went to church (I think) 4 times before the novelty wore off for my dd. Was painful but worth it, can second the other poster as there were only 6 people there (all over 60grin)

professorplum Mon 10-Sep-07 19:36:13

The 10 lepers story is about thanking people and about prejudice, both against lepers for their disease and against samaritans who were dispised by Jews for being mixed race. Its a 2000 year old story but imo still has relevence today. Bible stories do have many lessons that are relevent just as fairy tales do(ie stranger danger in little red riding hood) You don't have to believe that they are historical fact to enjoy them or benefit from them.

Bibis Mon 10-Sep-07 19:38:15

If that is the worst thing that you have to worry/complain about - be grateful wink

brimfull Mon 10-Sep-07 19:38:51

My ds also started last week at a CofE infant school.He came home and asked who God is.

My dd has been through the same school,she really enjoyed the religious stuff at the time.

Ds also said we did "collective worship" today and sang 3 times,and asked how to pray.Bless it's all quite a shock for him!

I'm not too worried though,he'll pick up stuff and make his own mind up when he's older.

morningpaper Mon 10-Sep-07 19:53:55

There will be lots of things that come up that seem odd, if he has had no religious education so far

You can always say "I'm not sure what that means, I'll find out for you" and then come and ask here

You might need that approach at christmas when he starts asking about virgins grin

Re. lepers, I would say "They had a disease which was very catching and so they weren't allowed in the village with their friends and they were very sad and poorly"

or something

bearsmom Mon 10-Sep-07 20:23:57

Bibis, you're right, and I really am grateful he's going to be learning in a caring and safe environment. I know not all kids are as lucky.

MP - hmmm, lepers much easier to explain to a 4-year-old than virgins! grin Wonder if there's been a thread on that yet?

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