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religious education

(92 Posts)
jen333 Mon 14-Jul-14 23:22:22

Has anone exercised their right to withdraw their child from RE classes? If so how has the school reacted and what have they offered as an alternative?

sonlypuppyfat Mon 14-Jul-14 23:31:01

Why would people withdraw a child from an RE lesson surely even if you don't have a faith its important to understand how the world works? I've never been to France but I learnt French I'm not an engineer but I had to learn triganomitary.

Pico2 Mon 14-Jul-14 23:41:39

Is there something specifically wrong with RE as taught in your child's school or do you have a general problem with RE?

Namechangearoonie123 Mon 14-Jul-14 23:44:43

You can't withdraw from RS/RE if it's a compulsory subject

Do you mean withdrawing children from taking part in religious worship or festivals that the schools follow ? Prayers at assemblies and the like ?

If you did mean RE you're misinformed. It's a subject like geography, history or philosophy and nothing to do with practising religion.

Pico2 Mon 14-Jul-14 23:53:06

You do have the right to withdraw your child from RE here.

BackforGood Tue 15-Jul-14 00:02:53

The whole 'learning to see things from different points of view' is SUCH an important thing to do. I find it sad that anyone would want to deprive their child of that opportunity.

jen333 Tue 15-Jul-14 07:10:40

Yes, everyone has the right to withdraw children, not just from religious worship, but from RE lessons. This is not generally known and schools do generally state that it is compulsory. All the main different religions have been covered pretty thoroughly at primary school. Is the point of RE classes to 'learn to see things from different points of view'? Can this be taught in class and only with reference to religion?

jen333 Tue 15-Jul-14 07:35:03

I am considering withdrawing my daughter from all RE classes at senior school. She has had extensive RE at primary school, visiting various places of worship, listening to various visiting priests/clerics, celebrating many faiths' festivals, and has been involved in regular religious worship in assembly. Due to government demands to increase standards of english and maths more time has to be spent on these subjects therefore reducing time allowed for optional subjects.

NorwaySpruce Tue 15-Jul-14 07:42:13

There is a vast difference between RE at Primary, and RE at Secondary.

At Secondary, the religions are studied in more depth, with reference to cultural issues (of the past and modern day), it's hugely interesting.

Our RE classes were where we were introduced to philosophy, learned about FGM, and were exposed to ideas and concepts that didn't get time in the English or History or PSHE curriculum, but which were relevant to all of those, and more.

I think it would be a pity not to take advantage of the teaching offered.

scaevola Tue 15-Jul-14 08:01:13

The school will still have to provide RE; individual pupils opting out will not change that, so there isn't going to be a windfall of empty lessons for extra maths or whatever.

You also need to look carefully at the RE curriculum at your potential secondary schools. In ours, it's very little about learning about festivals and buildings, and a great deal to do with philosophy and ethics.

pointythings Tue 15-Jul-14 08:48:15

At Secondary, the religions are studied in more depth, with reference to cultural issues (of the past and modern day), it's hugely interesting.

Unless your DC happens to have an RE teacher who is a rabid fundamentalist Christian with a drive to convert, who pays just enough lip service to the curriculum to get away with it. This is the situation my DD1 is in - fortunately she will get a different RE teacher next year.

If DD2 gets this teacher in Yr7, I may have to consider my options. Complaining has done no good at all, this teacher knows exactly what she can do.

If only RE teaching in our secondary were about philosophy and ethics - it isn't, it's crap.

jen333 Tue 15-Jul-14 09:07:23

Well, it is called Religious Education. If it is more about philosophy, ethics, current affairs, and differing cultures then maybe it should be called something else (PSHE?).

Of course the school is not going to provide an alternative class (dance would be wonderful) for those who opt out - fearing a mass exodussmile However, it might be an opportunity to get some homework done .. leaving time for out of school activities.

evalyn Tue 15-Jul-14 09:23:33

I suspect those of you who see RE as wholly positive are blinkered, very likely through lack of experience of anything other than one particular education system. Lots of people (I include myself) have been damaged by religion at school.

By contrast, my own children (we were not in UK) went to 'Ethics' classes at school, independently of their normal everyday curriculum, taught by a different teacher from Primary on, while their friends went, variously, to Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic religion lessons - at parents' choice.

Giving time in this extra-curricular way set religious education where it belongs, imo - apart from the school curriculum as such. They (my own children, that is) ended up as well-balanced, moral individuals with what I think of as an appropriate attitude to religion - they're wholly bemused by the background ideology, but appreciate that other people think various religions make sense and accept that. Their own children aren't at school yet, and I wonder what those of them in UK will do. Take them out of RE? I'll try not to tell them what I'd do, but they'll probably know. Their choice, though.

Those of my children who have made their home in (ahem!) more enlightened countries won't have to make this choice for their children when they begin school.

Making RE into comparative religion or whatever misses the point imo, which is that children ought not (and, as my experience shows, quite clearly ^need not^) be taught religion at school - keeping RE as a compulsory school subject gives religion itself a wholly spurious respectability that it no longer warrants (if it ever did).

So, OP, my advice is to bite the bullet and remove your children from RE as is your right. The more people do this, the better off we'll all be. And you'll be doing your DCs a favour.

BeatriceBean Tue 15-Jul-14 09:43:04

I used to teach RS. It was a fab course at the scho I taught at - "what is happiness" from several angles, lots of ethical dilemma, Kant, Utilitarianism, situation ethics. An academic approach to news stories from an ethical perspective. Logical attempts at arguments for the existence of God and their flaws, studied in their historical context and knowledge of the relevant philosophers. Whether religious language has meaning. Plato's cave, Aristotle....

I'm currently agnostic and thought it was an ace course. As much about critical thinking and structuring a good argument as anything else. A fantastic foundation for humanities based subjects or law in particular.

BeatriceBean Tue 15-Jul-14 09:44:36

We did a lot of medical ethics, discussions regarding the beginning and end of life. V.good foundation for law or medicine.

sonlypuppyfat Tue 15-Jul-14 09:45:12

Dance would be wonderful!? I was made to do dance at school, hours of my life I will never see again. Pointless pointless subject.

jen333 Tue 15-Jul-14 11:12:29

Thank you everyone for your thoughts/opinions. I have a very similar background to yours Evalyn, and your message was particularly helpful.

I have been surprised at the amount of religious education and worship my daughter has had at her state (non denominational) primary school. For a couple of years (aged 5/6) she held strong christian beliefs unlike her parentssmile

I attended a convent high school and was taught by nuns. I don't think this had any detrimental effect ... it was all pretty benign; I just found the RE classes to be boring and slightly ridiculous.

sonlypuppyfat - I suggested dance as that is my daughter's obsession -which unfortunately the school doesn't offer.

BeatriceBean Tue 15-Jul-14 11:13:26

I imagine what they did at a convent school in the dark ages is miles away from a modern RS syllabus.

jen333 Tue 15-Jul-14 11:21:28

I don't imagine that RE taught today in non-denominational state schools would be the same as at a convent school (in the dark agessmile??). However the subject matter is still religion which I think should be a family issue and probably best kept out of state schools.
Has been great relief to discover that we do have the legal option to opt out of RE classes and I shall take up that right.

BeatriceBean Tue 15-Jul-14 11:27:13

I'd suggest you visit the school/chat to the teacher to find out what is actually on the curriculum first.

Much of what we taught was philosophy which stood many oxbridge candidates in good stead in their interviews.

BeatriceBean Tue 15-Jul-14 11:28:19

My children are convinced there weren't even cars when I was young.... we all rode horses etc.

They're still shocked I didn't have a mobile though!

jen333 Tue 15-Jul-14 11:36:59

Gosh - Oxbridge interviewssmile Haven't thought that far ahead ... although my eldest son did have an Oxbridge interview (and failed) even though he went to a CofE secondary school, and his grandfather is a philosophy professorsmile
You're right though BeatriceBean - it was the dark ages! Shall do plenty of research - but good to discover that RE is NOT compulsory after all.

BeatriceBean Tue 15-Jul-14 11:43:27

If there's philosophy in the family then surely as a family the subject would be fascinating? There would certainly be a lot to talk about if he took the subject further.

Obviously I only have the schools I taught in to go on - and I was in fairly philosophy heavy/academic departments so I'm aware it may well vary. It would be a shame to avoid it thinking its something it isn't though.

BeatriceBean Tue 15-Jul-14 11:45:23

(My focus was A level and Oxbridge, hence the emphasis. I did love teaching new year 8s about Plato's cave and exploring the idea of happiness though.)

jen333 Tue 15-Jul-14 12:05:09

BB if you were the teacher I suspect RE could be fascinating!
I think my father would say that religion and philosophy were quite different things - religion = dogma, philosophy = free thinking and questioning. I can see the reason to try to combine the two though.

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