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To object to prayers and hymns at school?

(245 Posts)
Maitri Mon 02-Nov-09 11:55:04

DD (5) goes to a non-denominational school. The reason we chose the school is because it is not a church school despite having some very loose links with a local church. We're very happy for the school to celebrate Easter, Christmas and Harvest with the children as we are in a predominantly Christian society. DS used to go to the same school and I was really happy that in addition to Christmas etc, the children would make little divali lamps and would learn about other faiths' celebrations (we live in a very culturally un-diverse area). In recent months, the school's links with the church seem to have strengthened as the vicar puts in an appearance every week and DD comes home with a new prayer or a new hymn every couple of days. She's constantly talking about Jesus and "how sad it was that he had to die for us"(!). We balance it with the old line of "Well, some people believe that Jesus was a real person and some people believe that he wasn't...". There has been no mention whatsoever of other faiths.

I wanted other MNers' views on this as I'm considering talking to the headteacher about her views. What do you think?

PeachyInCarnivalFeathers Mon 02-Nov-09 11:58:22

The school has a legal reqquirement toprovide some form of religious worhsip, although you can ask for the child to be withdrawn.

LaurieScaryCake Mon 02-Nov-09 12:01:04

Firstly I think church and state should be separate.

Has she done any other faith stuff this year - diwali, eid?

I have no general problem with prayers as whether Christian or not prayer is good for mental health and has been shown to reduce stress.

I think it would be good if other ministers/priests/rabbis/imams go to the school from other faiths - I would perhaps ask if other faith leaders are going to be coming to the school rather than complain about the vicar coming if you see what I mean.

So that you're coming from the "i want a well rounded religious curriculum for my child" rather than "why is the vicar always here"?

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Mon 02-Nov-09 12:01:17

I hate to ask, but are you trolling? If you're not religious in any way, why does it matter so much to you?

You're OK with Easter/Christmas/Harvest/Divali but not hymns or prayers? Weird.

mumblechum Mon 02-Nov-09 12:04:01

I don't think the OP is trolling at all, she seems concerned that religion is being pushed down her dd's throat on a daily basis.

Being happy to let her join in with harvest festival & other occasional things is not the same thing as almost daily indoctrination.

JustAnotherManicMummy Mon 02-Nov-09 12:05:02

Are these prayers homework? Don't understand why they would be sent home.

I don't think you're trolling. I would be annoyed too if a previously moderate school started in dotrinating my child with loads of clap trap religion that I don't believe in and haven't chosen to instruct my child in.

Actually I would be furious if my child started talking about religion as if it were history rather than faith.

hobnobsaremyfave Mon 02-Nov-09 12:07:19

Agree with above post if you really think it's rubbish why are you so bothered? The national curriculum means that children have to learn about all faiths in equal weight and as you pointed out Britain is a predominantly Christian country so obviously they will be taught about Christian traditions

sunnydelight Mon 02-Nov-09 12:09:05

It's not the pick 'n mix stall. If you're basically happy with the school let them get on with it, otherwise send her elsewhere.

displayuntilbestbefore Mon 02-Nov-09 12:09:43

Tricky one this because I think most schools teach a bit of the C of E faith even if they're not "church" schools. The school our children go to seem to do an awful lot of hymn singing and teachings from the bible - something my dh, who is very anti all that, find a bit tough as ds1 constantly coming home telling us about something Jesus does. One day I was teasing my youngest that we should call him a different name and ds 1 piped up - "You can't, Jesus would be angry - Jesus gave him his name"!!!!!! I gently told him, "no, mummy and daddy gave your brother his name" but it did make me think that maybe there was a bit TOO much emphasis on the religious theme and for families for whom it isn't a feature, it makes it very hard to know what to say to a child. Plenty of parents won't teach children about God and Jesus if it's something they don't believe in, but makes it harder to guide them in a way which directly seems to oppose the theories the school has.
Personally I don't have a problem with it as if it helps people, a belief in a faith is fine and I believe my children will decide for themselves as they grow up whether or not Jesus is something they believe in or not. I'd be interested in what your headteacher says if you do decide to go in to speak about it as I don't know what the policies are but can only assume that they teach a bit of the religion as par for the course as I suppose in adulthood even people who have been brought up with a faith, will often question things themselves and make their own decisions.
Is there anything about the policy on the school website or prospectus that might help?

JustAnotherManicMummy Mon 02-Nov-09 12:14:53

I think the OP is right to question the change that appears to have occured in the teaching of religion at the school.

All of you who say "if you don't like it go somewhere else" are being a bit simplistic in your outlook IMO. It's a school not a supermarket. You can't just switch at the drop of a hat hmm

scarletlilybug Mon 02-Nov-09 12:17:18


The head is acting entirelky within her rights.

The law requires schools... to provide a daily act of collective worship. Taken over a term, the majority of such acts of worship should be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character. The school prospectus should make clear the parents' right to withdraw their children from collective worship.

If you are concerned that the school is beoming more religious, maybe you could make an appointment to discuss this with the head to understand how/why this has come about and possibly register your objections.

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Mon 02-Nov-09 12:21:02

I think if you want a state education without any spiritual or moral, and just political guidance, you'd have to go to China.

You're quite happy with the government shoving all its propaganda down your child's throat, but you don't want them to listen to a religion that tells them it's wrong to hurt other people and to try to forgive? You'd rather the school ignore their cultural heritage in favour of what exactly?

Maitri Mon 02-Nov-09 12:33:16

Am I trolling!!?? Absolutely not! I'm actually an RE teacher in a secondary school and my husband and I are from multi-faith backgrounds so yes, it is exceptionally important to me. My grist lies with the sudden switch to a seemingly strong Christian education. I agree that aspects of prayer and faith are great for positive mental health and I always encourage my children to question any form of dogma and, in this instance, I believe that the school is promoting religious dogma and not allowing any other points of view.

Thanks for the advice, MNers. I will book an appointment to see the Head although I absolutely don't want to withdraw DD from assemblies. I'm going to enquire whether a rabbi or imam could come into the school at some point to balance the kids' education a little.

scarletlilybug Mon 02-Nov-09 13:03:49

If you're an RE teacher, I would have thought you would know the law as it stands regarding religious worship in schools...

BalloonSlayer Mon 02-Nov-09 13:20:31

"I'm actually an RE teacher in a secondary school "

hmm at an RE teacher in a secondary school telling their child: "Well, some people believe that Jesus was a real person and some people believe that he wasn't...".

As an RE teacher you surely must know that Jesus was a real person, who is mentioned in many contemporary historical accounts. The difference between Christian and non-Christian views of Jesus is that the former think that Jesus was the incarnation of God on earth, and the latter think that Jesus was a would-be prophet and revolutionary who was executed, and around whom a religious cult sprang up. There is absolutely no historical doubt that Jesus existed.

RE teacher? Sorry but hmm, hmm and hmm again.

Sassybeast Mon 02-Nov-09 13:20:43

Have I misunderstood this -you are an 'RE' teacher - the RE standing for Religious Education presumably, yet you have a problem with your child being taught er religious type 'stuff' ? Do you mind me asking what your actual qualifications are - do you have a degree etc ? I am really bewildered by this one. Not being nasty - just very bewildered.....

PeachyInCarnivalFeathers Mon 02-Nov-09 13:49:32

BalloonSlayer well I hope she knows that cos I do and I have a World Faiths degree so simalr background.

Iam a Christian but I encourage my boys to learn about other faiths as much as they are ofered (not enough- village school CofW), i think it massively important for people ro gain some idea of the histories, beliefs and cultures of theworldaround them.

Surely ytou knew what the law was OP? The school has to prove it for OFSTED /ESTYN,and the Comp I want ds1 to attend was hauled up for not providing it, so it s seen as important.

scaryteacher Mon 02-Nov-09 14:34:22

I second Balloon Slayer, I really can't believe that a secondary RE teacher doesn't know that JC existed, son of God or not. You perhaps need to do some reading around. How long have you been teaching for, and where did you train?

Whilst I appreciate that you would prefer a more multi cultural approach to RE at your dc's school, you should be grateful that they are getting RE, as many schools don't maintain the statutory requirements as Peachy points out.

I am a bit hmm and shock as well. I know many RE teachers, and am one myself, and have never come across one who did NOT know that JC actually existed.

squirrel42 Mon 02-Nov-09 14:42:55

The OP did say she was talking to her 5yo with the Jesus existing thing, not having a full on debate with a class of secondary school pupils.

I really object to state schools being forced to have an "act of collective worship". Faith schools, fair enough, that's parental choice at work. But otherwise children should be taught about all the different religions and not forced to practice them.

Clary Mon 02-Nov-09 14:51:56

Jesus was a real person.

Whether you believe in the significance of what he did or not is another matter. But his existance is historical fact actually.

<reads thread> goodness you are an RE teacher! How could you not know that then, as others say??

scaryteacher Mon 02-Nov-09 14:52:11

I used to talk to my ds when he was that age about this and explain that JC existed, but that some people didn't believe he was the son of God.

Children ARE taught about all 6 major religions in school and are not forced to practice any of them. As for collective worship, in reality it doesn't happen at secondary, and in primary,I used to bow my head and think about the Osmonds or the Bay City Rollers.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 02-Nov-09 14:52:51

Maitri, there have been many MN discussions on this subject (I can't imagine why anyone would think you were trolling, to bring up a perennial favourite topic!)- a lot of parents would much prefer that non-faith state schools were secular. They should certainly provide RE educating about world religions and philosophies, but not include actual acts of worship.

Withdrawing ones child from part of the school activities is not an acceptable solution. If people want worship provided in (non-faith) schools it could be an opt-in extracurricular activity.

The assemblies in most schools may be fairly innocuous paying mere lip-service to the outdated law, but it sounds like in your school its starting to be verging into indoctrination.

catinthehat2 Mon 02-Nov-09 14:55:44

Well this is all cobblers isn't it?

Maitri, 2/10, not up to usual standards, please try harder!

Hulababy Mon 02-Nov-09 14:58:31

IME in most schools where prayer is said, even in church schools, the option to prayer is given. Often children are led in a prayer, but they do not have to recite it or say Amen unles they wish to, but they are expected to spend that prayer time in quiet contemplaton - heads down, eyes closed, etc.

Dolliebird Mon 02-Nov-09 15:20:39

I really cannot see what all the fuss is about, so what if they are attending assemblies and learning about JC and a few prayers and hymns?
The christian faith is a good faith, they teach children good values to help them to be good people. I can't see why anyone would be so against that? And as has been already mentioned it is the predominant faith in this country. What I don't understand is why it's ok to celebrate Easter, Harvest, Christmas etc. and then complain about hymns / prayers et al - sounds hypocritical to me! hmm
You don't like it - go enrol them in a non-faith school.

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