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Catholic Primary School - should we stay?

(11 Posts)
verbeier Tue 13-Jan-15 22:18:16

We live in an oversubscribed area and live in a black hole for school places. We put down our six local primary schools in our application. We got out sixth choice - a Catholic school which was so far away from us I thought it impossible that we would get a place. We were completely open on our admissions application about the fact that we did not attend church at all - I had no intention of lying. So my son has started and is happy enough there but I am getting worried about the religious aspect. They say many prayers a day (more than three). The other families are very religious (rightly so, of course) and we are feeling like fish out of water. I feel stuck - I am grateful we got a school place anywhere (my neighbour got no school place, and then was sent out of the borough). I myself did attend a Catholic school but in a different country where I do have to say, Catholicism was very different and very relaxed. I feel like a complete fraud and it makes me feel very uncomfortable. I think come First Communion my son will feel very left out. I feel like I am lying to my son. I have no issue with the education he is receiving. I am really struggling with what I should do. Admittedly, I think he would sit on waiting lists for other schools for quite awhile if we moved him...but I got the place with the school knowing our situation and attitude, so should I just not worry about it and carry on?

Hollyhocks7 Tue 13-Jan-15 23:18:44

There is no need to feel like a fraud, Catholic schools are not only for Catholics they are open to all children but can give priority to Catholics when over subscribed. I don't think you should worry about the prayers - I imagine there will be 3 very short ones a day. They really don't have as much effect on the children as you'd think. My dd is at a Catholic school and I have been disappointed at how little impact the religious tone has had on her ( I am practising RC). She is very irreverent and stubbornly resistant to it all. If you are really uncomfortable then move your child but if it is a good school and he is happy it seems a shame. The preparation for FHC is done in the parish Church, not in school nowadays so I doubt he'd feel left out even then.

Kay34 Wed 14-Jan-15 10:01:06

Verbeier, I was brought up a Catholic but am not now. My husband never was. We chose the local Catholic primary because we liked the ethos, its a great school with good values. Whilst the majority of parents will have put Catholic on their form, less than half will be regular practising Catholics. About 2/3 took Communion and Confession. It was all done outside of school hours. From time to time I get annoyed at the religion, the prayers and RE as a prominent subject (but its mostly about values and behaviour and learning about other religions too - not the controversial stuff) but it is not a dominating factor in the school. Also if you went to a Church of Engalnd school you would get similar. There is an upside. The values are good, the kids are well behaved, the work ethic is good, the parents mean well and so it is a happy and successsful school.

My kids know my views. I did wait until they were old enough to understand to have the discussion with them. I tell them they have a choice. They dont have any issues.

footallsock Wed 14-Jan-15 12:58:35

I would pop him on waiting lists and make a decision should a very desirable place close by to your home come up - only because thats good in other ways. Park your worries until you have to make a choice. I chose non RC school as I wanted DC to go to a culturally diverse school within walking distance. Our local RC is very Catholic but the parents generally are not. I do take mine to church and very few families go every week. Lots use the RC card to get in an RC school near us as results are good, but are not church goers. As such the school takes only the odd none RC child. Every school is so different.

haltingtheclock Thu 15-Jan-15 20:59:59

OP, are you sure you're the only family in this position at the school? If it's under-subscribed by Catholics then you probably aren't - it just might take a little while to identify them. And even those who are Catholic probably won't all be as strict as the ones you've encountered so far.

My DCs go to a CE school, and I've always answered their questions about faith honestly, right from Reception, telling them what I believe (I'm an atheist), and what his choices are, while making it clear I respect the beliefs of people at his school too. It leads to lots of deep and interesting discussion at home, and I know my DCs contribute actively and thoughtfully to RE lessons as a result. I think it's good for some of his classmates, and indeed his teachers, to hear different points of view. You will be doing them a favour, and your own child too, because holding your own in a minority is a formative experience.

verbeier Fri 16-Jan-15 14:27:50

Thanks for your responses, they're really helpful. Every parent I have spoken to has asked which church we attend...I have heard conversations about house blessings, people saying 'God bless you' instead of 'take care'...the parents do seem VERY religious. My concern is that my DS is already asking when we are going to church...I don't think its under subscribed as such (was best school in borough the year we applied) but I think most non RC people don't apply due, presuming they wouldn't get in. I do like the diversity - I would guess three quarters of parents are non British. Your responses gave calmed me down though, its not life and death and the school did take us on, warts and all smile.

verbeier Fri 16-Jan-15 14:29:30

At what age did you talk to your children about what you believed in, if you don't mind me asking? I'm planning for around 8?

haltingtheclock Fri 16-Jan-15 16:21:37

verbeier, I talked to them about it as soon as they started asking questions, and as they attend a faith school they started asking questions very early. We definitely had basic conversations about it in Reception. If they asked a question about God I would say "well actually I don't believe in God - not everybody does - but if I did believe in God I might say ... etc etc". Then if they asked me why I didn't believe in God I would explain that lots of people don't believe in God, but lots of the people at their school do because of the kind of school it is, but if they went to another school they would find that people had other beliefs. I would also say that they could decide for themselves whether they believed in God, and that some people change their minds throughout their lifetime.

They will talk about it at school - and tell their friends and teachers that their mum doesn't believe in God - but I think that is a good thing because it introduces all the children to other ways of thinking. The teachers should deal with it professionally if they're doing their jobs properly, and encourage your child to express their thoughts on the subject, as they would hopefully do for children from other faiths too.

Re the other parents, you might find that the other non-religious types are keeping their heads down for now as you are. But it's fine to be "out and proud" and it will encourage others to do the same.

verbeier Fri 16-Jan-15 22:10:15

Haltingtheclock, i've read your response over and over again....can you come and speak to my son? smile You are very respectful yet very honest and have given me great suggestions as to how to breach the subject. Kay34 - yes, that is an upside, the children are all extremely well behaved. Thanks again to all responders: I was in such a spin about it, but feel much better now. I was fearful about getting flamed by people telling me I had no right to take up a place at a religious school. smile

haltingtheclock Sat 17-Jan-15 09:19:59

No prob verbeier - you'll find the words when the time comes - just don't run away from the questions when they're little, because they stop asking so many as they get older.

When my DS was 5 he said "I think I do believe in God, because he's a lot like Santa Clause, and he's real". Now that he's 10, he still plays along with the Santa stuff, but with a knowing twinkle in his eye because he likes the magic, and wants it to continue. He is sometimes a bit bored by the religion at school - he's interested in the philosophical side, and the discussions, but not the ceremonial stuff. He is looking forward to going to a community secondary, but I know he will always be very tolerant of other people's religious views because of his early experiences. I think people who are less tolerant are often reacting angrily to the fact that they felt 'duped' through childhood.

You might find some of the information here on the BHA website useful.

footallsock Sat 17-Jan-15 20:14:49

In my experience there are a proportion of practicing Catholics who will observe many old catholic traditions such as house blessings so will mention it. We are in a very Irish Catholic area and much of it is also Irish tradition. A larger than normal number of children do Irish dancing too. They may actually be just observing tradition. I have also had parents from the RC school loudly say to me that you have to be really involved with the church if you go to the school - ironic as I never see them at any mass (I go to different ones each week)

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