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Would you send your child to a CofE primary school if you didn't believe in god?

(66 Posts)
mooki Tue 20-Oct-09 15:21:45

We are both atheists. I am more of a 'well any one can believe what they like as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else', my husband takes more of a Dawkins-style stance that people who believe in god/religion are just plain wrong.

We are looking to move to a quieter village but the only area we can afford has a C of E primary school. It gets a good Ofsted and lots of people tell me that the 'christian ethos' leads to better behaviour.

I understand that there is a weekly act of worship. The actual RE curriculum is set out to include a variety of beliefs and faiths and I'm sure the curriculum is the curriculum and you can't go adding in religious content willy nilly but I think my husband is worried there will be creationism in science lessons and that religion /the bible will be presented as fact rather than faith.

DD will obviously make her own mind up eventually. I rather think if we are totally dismissive of religion/s she is likely to rebel and become a 7th day adventist but is attending a CofE school actually likely to influence her particulalry?

We are planning to visit the school and meet the head but in the mean time -

would you send your child to a CofE school if you don't believe in god?

if your child is at a CofE school, is there much overt religiousness or is it more 'be nice to people'?

PuppyMonkey Tue 20-Oct-09 15:26:38

Yes I would - and did actually. It was our village school, so dd went to it. They didn't do that much stuff of a Christian nature... Harvest Festival and the vicar came to visit occasionally, that was it. If you don't believe in Harvest festival, well.. whatever!! I'm sure you'll survive.

As long as it's a good school, that's what matters.

Hullygully Tue 20-Oct-09 15:30:40

Ours went to a Cof E school because I didn't realise what it meant, I thoguht it was like the default name. On the first day ds came out and told us he wanted to show us somehting he'd learned. "Put your hands together and close your eyes," he said - and was v upset when we wouldn't and explained we thought it was all rubbish...

Didn't last long at that school. Depends how strongly you feel about it, it's difficult for them if you think the raison d'etre of the school is loony. Difficult for you to watch your dc indoctrinated in the fairies in the sky story.

mooki Tue 20-Oct-09 15:30:47

Thanks puppymonkey - I've seen another similar-ish thread below so I'll check that out too...

Iklboo Tue 20-Oct-09 15:31:45

I went to a C of E school and it wasn't overtly religious. Although since I developed my pagan/celtic beliefs at quite an early age I wasn't terribly welcome when the local vicar came round once a month for his chats as I asked too many questions. Eventually I got to sit in the library when he came (until I learned diplomacy grin)

AvengingGerbil Tue 20-Oct-09 15:33:47


colditz Tue 20-Oct-09 15:35:45

yes, because gnerally the ethos is good.

I went to a C of E primary school, and am a staunch Atheist.

Admittedly, as I was raised Atheist, I absorbed religion like a sponge for a couple of years (Search colditz Jesus walk on water drowning incident) but because I had questioning parents, I turned into a questioning child. And religion doesn't sit well with people who question everything.

izzybiz Tue 20-Oct-09 15:38:08

My Dd goes to one, its a fantastic school.
They do have worship in the hall once a week, and have harvest festival and the like.

Overall the general ethos of the school is to care about eachother and be kind always.

It comes across in the children, every time we have been to the school the children are all polite and courteous.

Go and take a look around if you can, you may be pleasantly surprised!

titchy Tue 20-Oct-09 15:38:12

My dcs go to a CofE primary and will be going (fingers crossed) to a CofE secondary! We are atheists/agnostics (depending on what day of the week it is!).

And sorry but WTF!!!!! Creationism in science lessons????!!!!! Assuming you don't live in Baptist belt America you have nothing to worry about! They've done the water cycle (no reference to God providing clouds, rivers etc), space and the planets(not created by God on the 1st day or whenever), sex education (the no holds barred version - not the only for procreation and only if you're married version) and a host of other normal stuff too.

All religions are taught as per the national curriculum. Yes they say the odd prayer in assembly, but they are general 'let's be thankful for the trees' type prayers that the muslim kids join in with as well. Christianity certainly isn't forced down their throats as fact, although the vicar makes an appearance once a week to talk about potatoes hmm (actually to the relief of the dcs it's usually one of the lay preachers who is much funnier). They go to church three times a year, and just view it as another school trip/concert type event, not with any reverance whatsoever.

Assuming this is a state funded school then you really don't have anything to worry about - but do go for a visit to reassure yourself!

Hullygully Tue 20-Oct-09 15:38:24

There's no difference in the ethos, all children are told about peace, love and sharing, the difference is whether it's done in the name of our holy supernatural lord or not.

lynniep Tue 20-Oct-09 15:38:49

yeah. our local (literally 5 mins walk) is a C of E. Its also a very good school. When the time comes I'm seriously considering it.

Whilst neither DH or I are actively religious, I guess I am loosely - I mean I celebrate christmas and all - I feel like this is more of a culture I was brought up in than a strong religious slant so I'm a bit ambivelant (is that the right word?!) about the whole thing.

I went to a C of E school, we had hymns in the morning and very little else with religious overtones - of course easter was celebrated as well but I didnt really know what was going on - it was more about rolling eggs! RE lessons were about different religions.

No-one at our local is required to be actively religious i.e. attend church services although I believe if there were a shortage of places then a churchgoer might be selected first...

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Oct-09 15:40:31

Personally, no - though I don't blame parents who are forced to do so by the system at the moment.

We were fortunate enough to be able to afford a private school as an alternative to the ring of church schools which surrounds us.

The village school is supposed to be quite good (by the mediocre yardstick of level 4 SATs) but DD's friend, who joined it when she moved into the village, told me that she didn't like the headmistress because HM was asking her why she didn't go to church on a Sunday. The child's parents are Chinese, WTF would she be going to Church? hmm. I was pretty appalled but managed to merely remark mildly that it really wasn't any of the head's business how she spent her free time.

JulesJules Tue 20-Oct-09 15:48:31

I think it probably depends a lot on the individual school, and head teacher, you will have to judge on what you find when you go and visit.

FWIW, my DDs' school is CofE, and I think there is less religion than there was at my own non-CofE schools in the 70s. Plus they cover a lot of other faiths and cultures as well, which we never did.

izzybiz Tue 20-Oct-09 15:50:18

Hully gully, there certainly is a difference in the schools where we live. smile

Hullygully Tue 20-Oct-09 15:54:07

Izzy - do they teach the children to hit, fight and grab at the other schools then?? How does the addition of Jesus make a difference to the teaching of good behaviour?

jackieOpaperLANTERN Tue 20-Oct-09 15:56:37

DS goes to a CofE school, it's our local village school, not much choice, all the local schools here are CofE.

neither dh or myself are religious in anyway. DS has come home talking about god and jesus and they have an assembly everyday, sing hyms, say prayers before dinner and go to the church at christmas, easter and harvest festival. DS is only 5 but i have explained to him that mummy and daddy don't really believe the same things he is being taught at school - ie he came home adamant that god made the world, i tried to explain evolution to him. he knows that different people believe different things and he will make up his own mind when he is older.

I went to a CofE primary and it didn't make me religious in anyway, although i do quite like singing hyms and carols grin

NorbertDentressangle Tue 20-Oct-09 16:01:55

Yes I would and yes we do.

We initially chose the school as it is a stones throw away and when we visited we were impressed with the overall ethos of the school (SATS are not the be-all and end-all of school, everyone should have fun learning etc). It has since had 2 outstanding OFSTEDs.

I'm happy at the balance of religions that are taught ie. not just CofE and not too much religion overall.

Also, interestingly enough DS, who has been at school less than a year, is currently a firm believer in God which is what DD did at that age. DD is now year 5 and has made up her own mind that God doesn't exist. Thats purely come from her as religion isn't something we talk about at home at all.

hatwoman Tue 20-Oct-09 16:02:45

you and your dh sound a bit like me and mine, Mooki. dd1 went to a c of e junior school for a while. boths dds are now at a non-church village school - but there is very little difference between them - some village schools can be very churchy without being c of e.

There are several things about both schools that niggle us - but nothing that we think jeopardises dds' education/moral well-being/potential to be philosopically critical (not a phrase I;ve used much about my children, I feel the need to add...). The niggly things at the CofE juinior were only niggly in that I'd rather they went to a school that didn;t do them - but they were all perfectly well within the remit of a religious school, iyswim - so they're not criticisms. The school had a very religious slant to, suprise suprise, Christmas, Easter, Harvest Festival - I feed them a diet of celebrating family, being thankful for all the amazing things we have and thinking about people less fortunate than ourselves - and, tbh, I was a bit suprised that these values - were actually quite a lot secondary to teh religious stories - despite them being very Christian-type values. so that's one niggle.

second niggle is with the current (non-church) school - too many religious songs - "God made the world and God made me" (creationism?)and "I am a C H R I..etc). and an end of day prayer - which DD was told she had to join in shock which is clearly not the case. (in this case the niggles are in fact criticisms iyswim)

but, despite this religiously-influenced schooling, I have no qualms about dds. They know where dh and I stand. They know lots about other religions. They know and are learning lots about science. I real don't think that this religiously based schooling is doing them any harm at all

Fennel Tue 20-Oct-09 16:07:36

I would if it were the only local school, say a village school where we lived, or if it were our obvious local catchment school which most children went to.

I wouldn't if there were other non-church schools close by.

Like Hatwoman I've found our local community primary actually does quite emphatically Christian assemblies, the local curate comes in and runs them. So I'm not sure it would be so different in a CofE catchment primary.

The dds know we are atheists and that the teachers/curate are Christians, it makes for lively debate. I don't mind a bit of theological debate anyway, as long as the school doesn't want our agreement about teaching Christianity I can live with them teaching it and me dissing it.

Wilts Tue 20-Oct-09 16:12:52

Yes I would and I do.

The school is good, the religion aspect doesn't bother me particularly. Ds1 is now at secondary school but had/has no time for religion. Ds2 however, seems to have really embraced it.

With regards to the religion side, they pray in assembly and at lunch and visit the local church once a term. When I go to assemblies, I don't pray. I also told Ds1 that while I didn't expect him to pray I did expect him to respect others that are doing so.

unluckyfriedkitten Tue 20-Oct-09 16:13:23

I wouldn't and haven't. The only 2 junior schools in our area are a Catholic and a CofE one so when DS was little we started thinking about what would happen when reached that age as both DH & I are totally against religious practice in schools.

I started looking into home education and liked it so much that we didn't send DS to school at all grin

paisleyleaf Tue 20-Oct-09 16:18:06

I'm not religious.
It's hard to find a primary school here that isn't CofE
I don't think they're too full on though.
I've got my DD in a community school, but they still seem to have the same worship schedule.

KristinaM Tue 20-Oct-09 16:23:28

no i wouldnt

especially if i thought that anyone who believed in God was " just plain wrong". religion is a fundemental part of the ethos of a CoE school - its not an "event" once or twice a year that you can opt out of

Ivykaty44 Tue 20-Oct-09 16:26:30

Any school will have religion involved in some way or oter - in the uk.

My dd 2 goes to the local school and it happens to be cofe but they have to respect her wishes and beliefs which are at the moment I dont beleive in Jesus because its a nice story and thats it.

I keep my beliefs to a certain extent from her as I want her to make up her own mind, she has gone to the lcoal lovely church youth club and also the youth club that has no religion involved and gone to church.

I wish that we were like usa and france and didn't have religious schools of any kind and that the children just learnt about religion at school and did religion away from school - but not so so make the most of what we have.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 20-Oct-09 16:34:56

hatwoman, those creator-god hymns at assembly (in non-faith school) really irritate me. Not on DDs behalf, as I don't think she takes them in the least seriously, but in principle I don't like misinformation.

'Who put the colours in the rainbow ... it surely can't be chance' hmm

Whether you have to send your child to a faith school or not, make sure they know about the reality of the world first - a preschooler can easily grasp the fundamentals of evolution and as they all seem to love dinosaurs, science museums etc its easy and enjoyable.

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