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What am I looking for when viewing a primary school? It's catholic as well, what does that involve?

(14 Posts)
LissyGlitter Sun 06-Sep-09 20:45:50

Sometime next week (will be ringing tomorrow to arrange it) me, DP and DD will be going to look round a school with a view to DD starting in the nursery class next year. OFSTED is marginally better than the other walking distance school (and the one we are looking at is extremely nearby) so on first impressions it seems best, but what are we actually looking for?

I'm pretty keen to send her to the nearest one, because I hate the idea of all the posher parents driving their kids to schools higher in the league tables instead of simply working to improve the local school for everyone's benefit, but at the same time I'm worried that I might accidentally send her to a school that just has an ethos that goes against how we want to bring up our children.

The main thing worrying me is the catholic nature of the school- do they teach the kids the more controversial bits of Catholicism? We are keen for her to get a grounding in Christian mythology, as in comes in so useful in understanding such a lot of western art and so on, but I'm very worried that they will be taught pretty dodgy things about sexuality (eg Catholics don't like homosexuality, contraception or masturbation, do they?) or that there is something wrong with being the offspring of two feminist, lefty, unmarried, guardian reading types. Also there is hardly any time in school for learning as it is, I don't want her spending too much time faffing about doing mass or whatever.

Does anyone have any experience of this?

Waswondering Sun 06-Sep-09 20:49:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bigstripeytiger Sun 06-Sep-09 20:58:01

Will your DD be able to get into the Catholic school (from the OP it doesnt sound like she is from a practising catholic family, sorry if I have that wrong).

I have heard some fairly negative things about catholic schools. I wouldnt send my children to my local catholic school, but then as I'm not catholic then obviously one of the major 'positive' features of the school would be a negative for me.

My children go to a non-faith school, and do receive some religious education, but it is from a perspective of education about different faiths, rather than trying to encourage belief in any one particular system.

LissyGlitter Sun 06-Sep-09 21:07:40

When I went in to get the forms they asked if she was Catholic and I said no, and they gave me a different set of forms, so presumably it'll be ok. The local area would seem to have a lack of children (about half the schools have shut since DP was growing up round here) so hopefully it will be undersubscribed, if anything.

I went to non-faith primary and secondary, yet they still let the local evangelists come in once a week in Primary and teach us some pretty dodgy creationist stuff, so it seems to be hard to avoid. My catholic sixth form was lovely, extremely liberal (they took us on a trip to a beach to meditate around a campfire fgs!) and very supportive of things like LGBT students and posters advocating sexual health, so I think it is down to the establishment itself. I'm just not sure how to ask about it without seeming odd.

Sex education is my main worry-I know in Primary school I was definitely told it was ok to fancy people of the same sex and that if I wanted to touch myself in private, that was fine too, as well as being shown condoms and that, but this would appear to have been extremely forward thinking of my school at the time (mid 90's) I'm not particularly bothered if she gets no sex education at school as I'm pretty confident we can sort that out at home, at least during Primary, but I don't want her actually taught shame of her body/sexuality etc.

mathanxiety Sun 06-Sep-09 22:45:56

I'm a Catholic, and actually like the catholic school my DCs attend/attended. (Some are not teenagers) My concern would be for your child, since you used the term "Christian mythology". Religion as taught in Catholic schools is taught as truth, not mythology. You will be setting her up for conflict and possibly bewilderment if you pooh pooh what she comes home with (she will learn prayers, all about Christmas, Easter, Resurrection, Ascension, angels, saints, sacraments, grace, heaven -- hell was never mentioned in DCs' school). If you strongly disagree with all the above, then don't send DD there. OTOH, if you can stand by and keep your reservations to yourself, she won't feel there's a conflict of philosophy and loyalty. As far as sex ed, you shouldn't be depending on any school to get all the facts across, no matter where your DD goes. If you want something done right, do it yourself... My DCs' school did a pretty thorough job of this actually, no question of shame, fundamentalism, homophobia. But there is definitely a catholic pov about abortion, and non-natural contraception, so you'll have to sort out those areas yourself.

GrimmaTheNome Sun 06-Sep-09 22:59:53

"if you can stand by and keep your reservations to yourself, she won't feel there's a conflict of philosophy and loyalty"

but you might well be conflicted about letting a school indoctrinate your child into something you don't believe is true!

I certainly wouldn't discount the other school because of a marginally worse OFSTED inspection. Visit both of them, ask them all these questions.

Clary Mon 07-Sep-09 01:14:02

Personally I wouldn't send my child to a Catholic school if I wasn't Catholic (which I am not). Any more than I would send them to a Muslim school if ditto.

If you do, don't be surprised if she comes home with ashes on her head the day after Pancake Day (etc etc). The term "Christian mythology" is rather odd from someone thinking of a Catholic school tbh.

Tho this sort of observance may vary from school to school. I don't have any personal experience.

If you are choosing the Catholic school soley on the basis of Oftsed report being "marginally" better then I would look at both schools and any others in the area before deciding. Marginal variations in Ofsted are not a reason to pick or not pick a school imho. Apols if I have misunderstood tho.

Tortington Mon 07-Sep-09 01:23:43

don't take up the place that a catholic could have - if you do not believe in the religeon.

themildmanneredjanitor Mon 07-Sep-09 01:28:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

skybright Mon 07-Sep-09 01:41:02

Why send your child to a faith teaching school if you do not believe in that faith?

I actually think schools should have no religious element,however if they do have then surely the kids and parents should have a similar belief.

mathanxiety Mon 07-Sep-09 06:02:32

Grimma -- no-one is forcing the OP to send her DC to the catholic school. They teach religion there, not christian mythology. You can't opt out of the religion classes. You can't ask them not to indoctrinate your child. If the OP thinks it's bunk, she is setting her child up for conflict if she chooses to send the DD there.

mrsgboring Mon 07-Sep-09 06:22:22

re sex ed I think schools have to have a policy document on this. You can ask for it. Ditto religious education. But TBH it doesn't sound as if the RC school is going to be a particularly good fit, given your attitude.

bellissima Mon 07-Sep-09 08:32:25

I'm not Catholic but married to one and with children being brought up as (IFYSWIM). Personally I would not want my children to go to any school that gave them the idea that 'mummy's going to burn in hell' because she's not RC. And looking round Catholic primary schools I find that some are much more 'in your face' than others. The tableau greeting you just inside the entrance is often a give away. Also, I have seen classrooms where its obvious (posters/paintings) that they do get taught about other faiths (which I would want - and sorry if that's a bad attitude) and others where its apparent that its Catholicism all the way. But - NB janitor - here the local RC school doesn't prepare the children for first communion - that's done through classes at the church.

Madsometimes Mon 07-Sep-09 10:37:06

My children are at a catholic school and they are obliged to fit religion into about 10% of the curriculum as well as following the national curriculum. Therefore expect most school plays to be religious and a lot of the art work, music, writing etc. We do have some non-catholic children at school, but these are normally C of E or another christian denomination. Children do get taught about other faiths, but most of the RE is focused on Christianity.

Catholic schools do tend to be rather good on pastoral care, and any homophobic bullying would be treated with zero tolerance. However, I would like to think that this would be the case in any school. A great many children at school have single parents or parents who are co-habiting with partners. There is none of the sex before marriage is a sin stuff in our primary school. However, at secondary level I suspect that there is.

By the way, I do agree with your point about about a firm grounding in religious education helping older students to understand the context of western culture. A friend of mine is a p/t university tutor, and she is forever complaining that her students lack knowledge of classical and biblical stories.

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