Are church of england schools very religious?

(44 Posts)
ML1706 Mon 03-May-21 12:50:24

So my son goes to an infant school and after year 2 he will have to change schools. There are a lot of good schools around but the closest one is a church of england school. A friend of mine whose child goes to a coe school told me her son was made to pray daily.. we don't feel comfortable with that and I was wondering if all coe schools were like that.. should I not bother considering that school as there are a lot of good state schools around? Most of his classmates will go to that school

OP’s posts: |
OneCalamerra Mon 03-May-21 12:52:11

Varies a lot by school, but yes I’d expect all CoE schools to have daily prayers. Some schools are better than others at making arrangements for non-religious children to sit out.

JassyRadlett Mon 03-May-21 12:56:13

Yes daily prayers are standard. How religious otherwise depends on the school/head/local church.

My Reception child comes home talking about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit being a dove, etc etc. Huge amounts about Easter.

Y4 child and his friends have apparently discussed and agreed god isn’t real but it would be rude to say so at school.

Hoping reception child goes on a similar journey. Before the predictables arrive, my only choices for a state education for my kids were religious schools, so please take your uninformed ‘don’t send your kids to a faith school if you don’t like it’ nonsense elsewhere.

JassyRadlett Mon 03-May-21 12:57:32

Varies a lot by school, but yes I’d expect all CoE schools to have daily prayers. Some schools are better than others at making arrangements for non-religious children to sit out.

Although I’m not sure how they’re managing that at the moment with class bubbles and no assemblies - so all prayers are being done in classrooms.

ML1706 Mon 03-May-21 12:59:28

Thank you I had no idea that daily prayers were standards. Since we do have other options I won't be sending him there, hopefully the transition won't be too difficult for him

OP’s posts: |
TheMarzipanDildo Mon 03-May-21 13:00:55

My school wasn’t even CoE but at one point they had us on three prayers a day. I’ve survived (although I did have one very committed religious phase when I was about 9).

Aroundtheworldin80moves Mon 03-May-21 13:01:12

Varies a lot. Some are still called CofE, but are in effect just the local school. Others select by religion and have more Church input.

One of my DDs was briefly allocated a Church junior school, but no daily prayers. Just one assembly a week and visits to the church.
On the other hand their community school in a different area had regular visits from the vicar and was taught the Easter story in detail in reception.

Terrazzo Mon 03-May-21 13:02:54

2 local schools, my son goes to non-religious academy primary and his best friend goes to c of e infants. Year 1. My son learns about religions once a week in RE so knows bits and bobs. Best friend’s mum tells me he’s always going on about god and he’s asking lots of questions and as a non-believer she doesn’t want to tell him that school are wrong because they’re his teachers and obviously he needs to listen to them 😄 so has led to a lot of confusion for the family as they don’t know how to broach it all.

Having said that I went to a c of e school and never believed any of it really.

Metallicalover Mon 03-May-21 13:08:01

I would expect a school that follows a religion would gave some form of praying dependent on that religion. I was sent to Catholic school as I had been raised Catholic and that was what was taught at home. As previous posters have said they don't know how to broach the subject if they don't believe but their child is being taught the religion at school.
I would explore your other options if your not comfortable with that.

dchange Mon 03-May-21 13:12:09

@ML1706 I agree. Best to send child to non religious school. My child goes to COE and they pray daily. I am religious and don't mind. However, they have kids that are none religious. They need to be with the kids during prayer but the don't have to say the prayer.

Ihaveoflate Mon 03-May-21 13:15:57

You can request your child is removed from the daily act of worship but not the RE lessons (curriculum is statutory). Or you could suggest to your child that they sit respectfully throughout the prayers without actually joining in. Or just let them join in but talk to them about how your family don't subscribe to that belief etc.

I'm Jewish but my child will go to the local CofE primary. The prayers don't mean anything to us so it doesn't bother me. I'm bringing her up to be confident in our religious identity and respectful to others, so the CofE school isn't an issue. I would rather she went to the same school as her local friends.

mummabubs Mon 03-May-21 13:16:47

Just to add another perspective - The CoE school I went to had daily prayers/hymns and then church services every term or so, was definitely very religious. Most of my friends there came from religious families but I didn't (my parents are agnostic and I'm an atheist). Didn't stop me from enjoying school and whilst being respectful it gave me validation that I didn't have to follow what others believed in. I guess one difference might be that I went there when I was 12/13 so already had my own awareness of my beliefs about the world. Might have felt differently if I was much younger perhaps.

bigbluebus Mon 03-May-21 13:17:44

I think it varies by Head teacher. Where i live there is no choice - all primary schools are CofE unless you go down the private sector route. When my DS was at the local school there was obviously an element of religion in the school day - prayers and hymns at assembly (which was called assembly in his day). There have been 2 subsequent head teachers and it seems to have got more religious with each one - there have also been numerous changes of ministers attached to the school too. Now assembly is called 'worship'. There are religious artefacts evident around the school and lots of other religious things such as 'prayer trees' and posters. I think you would need to check out the individual school in question but even then it could change with a change in leadership. People just seem to go with the flow around here - I think most children form their own opinions one way or another by the time they progress to Secondary school. My DS left primary having decided that religion was all a fairy story for grown-ups. He is not disrespectful of those who follow religious beliefs but is just a non believer himself (he's an adult now).

murbblurb Mon 03-May-21 13:19:03

No child should be exposed to any religion except in 'some people believe'. They can decide when they are 18 if they want to follow a faith. That would get rid of the whole thing in a generation as no child is born religious.

Sadly it doesn't work like that and indoctrination continues.

MissSueFlay Mon 03-May-21 13:23:15

Go and have a look around it, you will see by the work on the walls, their values, what the head teacher talks about etc. what place Christianity has in the life of the school, not just the daily prayers & assembly.
My DD goes to an outstanding C of E school with faith admissions criteria, and on the tour you could tell some of the parents, who may have been willing to do the minimum church attendance to get in, look quite horrified at the level of Jesus stuff on the walls etc. Christian faith is central to how the school runs and they make no apologies for it.
But other C of E schools aren't like that at all, so it's best to go and check it out to see if it is intolerable or not.

Fitforforty Mon 03-May-21 13:23:26

Ihaveoflate

You can request your child is removed from the daily act of worship but not the RE lessons (curriculum is statutory). Or you could suggest to your child that they sit respectfully throughout the prayers without actually joining in. Or just let them join in but talk to them about how your family don't subscribe to that belief etc.

I'm Jewish but my child will go to the local CofE primary. The prayers don't mean anything to us so it doesn't bother me. I'm bringing her up to be confident in our religious identity and respectful to others, so the CofE school isn't an issue. I would rather she went to the same school as her local friends.

You can remove a child from daily collective worship and/or RE lessons (I’m an RE teacher btw). All schools are suppose to have daily acts of collective worship of a wholly Christian nature unless they are specifically of another religion in which case there should be a daily act of worship within that religion. Some schools are much stricter about what a act of collective worship looks like the others.

I personally wouldn’t send my child to a religious school as am an atheist. I would consider a CoE school if it was our local school but not a Catholic school.

mummabubs Mon 03-May-21 13:25:01

Having just said about age maybe being an important factor I've just reflected that both the completely secular infant and junior schools I attended in the 90s both had weekly prayer, hymns and a lot of God talk, including a man who used to come in once a month and paint out parables for us in assembly... Clearly didn't rub off on me! 😂 I do remember my parents framing some answers to questions that I had along the vein of "some people think that this is what happened and they believe this is real (etc etc) but other people think this instead".

cakefanatic Mon 03-May-21 13:30:04

The daily act of worship is not just for faith schools - all schools are supposed to participate in a ‘daily act of worship’ which unless a school of another faith should be Christian.

Our children are at a CoE school, despite us being very much agnostic/atheist. The church thing adds an interesting dynamic to conversations (creation vs evolution being one), but overall the Christian foundations of the school are positive. The school’s values centre around faith and love and are quite wholesome. The school population is a mixture of faiths and cultures, and the school is very welcoming and respectful of other belief systems. Definitely wouldn’t be put off by a faith school.

picturesandpickles Mon 03-May-21 13:30:24

Very varied.

Mine goes to quite a church-y school but tbh they are pretty open to pushback and I got some opt outs of things that were particularly annoying to me.

I rewrite the parental agreement every year to delate the refs to God and of course they hmm at me but IMO a bit of debate is healthy for head teachers.

picturesandpickles Mon 03-May-21 13:31:43

I also agree with PP the values are good and my kids don't disagree with any of the school values, even whilst they may question the source of the teachings.

PotteringAlong Mon 03-May-21 13:36:06

@ML1706 remember that there is no such thing as a completely secular school in the U.K. - we have a state religion in the Church of England and, as such, all schools have at least a nominally religious character. There is a legal requirement for every school to have a daily act of worship every day. Some are hotter on it than others.

thehairyhog Mon 03-May-21 13:44:25

Terrazzo

2 local schools, my son goes to non-religious academy primary and his best friend goes to c of e infants. Year 1. My son learns about religions once a week in RE so knows bits and bobs. Best friend’s mum tells me he’s always going on about god and he’s asking lots of questions and as a non-believer she doesn’t want to tell him that school are wrong because they’re his teachers and obviously he needs to listen to them 😄 so has led to a lot of confusion for the family as they don’t know how to broach it all.

Having said that I went to a c of e school and never believed any of it really.


That sounds like a strange approach. Can't they just say they have different beliefs?

I just tell dd I don't believe but others do (as others do in other religions) and she can make her own mind up.

Pretty sure though that from what she's said she loudly reports in class that she doesn't believe 🙈 (reception)

BikeRunSki Mon 03-May-21 13:44:34

My DC went/got to a village CoE school. We are not a religious family (and I was raised Catholic alway), and I don't find the religion OTT. They say a prayer after assembly every day, and maybe go to church once a term , but between Covid, the church being vandalised and not having a vicar for a while, this has never really been much of a big deal. They do the end of year Christingle in the church and have a leaver's service.

The DC certainly know about the Christmas and Easter stories, basis bible stories and the school teaches some fundmanetally kind /thoughtful values, which it would be difficult to have issue with from any religious or non-religious moral standpoint

I rather like that the DC are learning about religion at school, because they won't get it at home, yet I don't for one minute think I can hide it from them.

DS is 12 now, so he has left that primary school. He's good at questioning issues that arise in RE and is always up for a but of intelligent discussion.

Mammyloveswine Mon 03-May-21 13:45:13

I teach in a c of e school..we say a prayer at home time and have weekly worship..we are a Christian school so it is a part of our identity but we are very diverse and welcoming!

It's certainly not "in your face".

Allington Mon 03-May-21 13:57:08

As others have said, it varies by school, but all state schools (unless specifically of another faith) are required to have a daily act of collective Christian worship.

So best to look at how that is implemented, and the degree to which the local church links in with the school if you are worried.

To put it into historical perspective, in the late 19th century the CofE had a big drive to on provide widespread primary education at a time when the state didn't provide any education. When the state began to provide universal education, rather than set up a second school alongside the Church school, they came to an agreement with the Church whereby the land and buildings were still owned by the Church, and the Church had a lot of influence within the school, but many of the running costs were met by the state - a sensible solution when Church attendance was pretty much universal.

The details have changed slightly, with the Church having a lot less influence than before, but generally there will still be a link with the local CofE church including a Governor or so nominated by the local Church. Some local Churches take that as a mandate to evangelise a bit, some simply see it as being part of the local community and nominate someone which relevant experience in the education sector who happens to be a church goer.

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