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School assemblies and re

(65 Posts)
vwvic Tue 22-Mar-05 14:59:16

Can anyone help me? I'm looking for thoughts about this potentially sensitive subject. Myself, dh and ddx2 are atheist. We chose to send the girls to a community school rather than a church school as we did not want them to feel obliged to play an active role in religion in school. However, we do want them to be educated about world religions, just not feel thay are being bad/wrong for not beliving in one themselves.

our problem is that our eldest child has been told that she must pray and sing hymns in assembly, or else "she will go to hell". She has also recieved poor behaviour points for not singing the hymns, even though she, and us, have told her teacher she is an atheist child. She now feels very scared that she will be sent to the headteacher, or punished if she shows her beliefs. She is five.

So, our dilema: Do we withdraw her from taking part in Assemblies/ re lessions? We are very reluctant to make her so obiously different, but not sure of what else we can do. Maybe I should also say that DH has studied philosophy to quite a high level, and often have "kid orientated" philosophy discussions with DDx2.

Ideas/thoughts please...

Snugs Tue 22-Mar-05 15:04:34

This is soooo wrong and gets me quite angry

To be told that "she will go to hell" is downright disgusting and I would be at the Headteachers door like a shot to complain about this. Can't even think straight to discuss the issue I am so annoyed.

We have had some interesting discussions on schools and religion recently on MN. Will find you some links.

Snugs Tue 22-Mar-05 15:08:07

Too much Religion in Reception? Especially check out link posted by lockets 24th Feb 12.39 am.


Also Encouraging acceptance whilst discouraging hypocrisy

vwvic Tue 22-Mar-05 15:08:41

The only thing that stopped me complaining to the headteacher is the DD1 is extremely sensitive- her favoured approach is to say "it doesn't matter that much, lets just let it go". I'm not sure this is always the right approach.

Snugs Tue 22-Mar-05 15:18:33

Do they cover other religions as well, or are they just giving them the choice of Christianity or hell if they don't join in?

I chose not to withdraw my DS1 from assemblies or the RE lessons, but only after pointing out to the Head that they were one-sided and ensuring that this oversight was corrected. They still don't cover my own religion (Paganism) but at least they are now attempting to follow the National Curriculum.

It is the reaction your DD has received when not participating that concerns me most and, personally, I wouldn't be able to "just let it go".

vwvic Tue 22-Mar-05 16:01:56

Exactly. I'm finding the decision between doing what I feel I should do (tell the head unacceptable things are happening) and doing what erin wants me to do very dificult. Part of the problem is that we feel that it's terribly important to respect her wishes and feelings (as long as she's not in danger) just as we are starting to ex[ect that she will respect ours. Does that make sense?

I know that they are supposed tp cover other world religions, but I don't think they do. Tbh, it's not the lessons in themselves that concern me. I'ts the fact that she's having to sing and say things that she doesn't believe. Everyday she comes home singing a new hymn that the kids have been made to learn by heart. Today's exampl included the words " we must thank god- without him we are nothing." I'm worried that soon she'll start believing this.

Snugs Tue 22-Mar-05 16:10:26

Makes perfect sense to me.

Why don't you sit down with your dd and talk to her about it? Does she want to sing the hymns but feels she shouldn't because of what you believe? Maybe get a basic children's bible and literature on other religions and go through a few together. Explain that what you and daddy believe is right for you but she is free to choose what is right for her - the most important thing is that everyone respects others and their views.

It is so difficult at this age - I really wish I could have left religion until much later but school and assembly sort of forced the issue for me.

DS1(7) now has a firm grasp of my beliefs but has calmly told me that he is still undecided and will make his own mind up "when he is a grown up" which is good enough for me .

Snugs Tue 22-Mar-05 16:11:17

Would still speak to the Head re National Curriculum guidelines though

vwvic Tue 22-Mar-05 16:41:03

DD singing hymns but feeling bad about it for due to our beliefs is something that concerns me. We have talked to her about it, telling her pretty much what you suggested. She said that she knew all that, and she had choosen to be an atheist, as nothing else made sense (her words). we think she sings for one reasons; namely, she doesn't want to get into trouble.

IKWYM about leaving religion until children are older. We tried to be proactive over the issue, and borrowed loads of books from the library about world religions( not all at once of course..) to look at and read as a family. It helps that one of my best friend is hindu, the other is an evangelical christian. Many family members are catholic. Erin's best friend is muslim.

I'm pretty certain she has made up her own mind, but just doesn't want to rock the boat at school.

vwvic Tue 22-Mar-05 16:41:53

Might have a meeting with headteacher still. Will talk to DH tonight.

Snugs Tue 22-Mar-05 16:49:41

Good luck - have a look at the links on the other thread. It might be useful to be armed with the info on the Nat.Curr. before you go.

Your dd sounds like a bright little girl - it is shameful that the school appear to be riding roughshod over her opinions and beliefs by treating such things as refusal to sing hymns as bad behaviour.

ionesmum Tue 22-Mar-05 23:27:49

I am a Christian and, although in favour generally for religious assemblies in school, this situation is way out of line. Most Christians do not believe that little girls go to hell for not singing hymns (wtf?) This teacher is pretty fundamentalist and I would not want my kids anywhere near her. The God I believe in loves children.

vwvic Wed 23-Mar-05 12:04:24

Thanks for you thoughts. It's really nice to know that I'm not on my own.

Snugs, do you have any tips for talking to the headteacher? Other than taking copies of the national curriculum etc. It's sounds as though you've done it before, and I would appreciate advice. I've never had to have such a discussion before, and I can understand why Erin is worried by her. She is one scary lady even to me!

crunchie Wed 23-Mar-05 12:35:48

Without a doubt have a meeting with teh head. It is disgusting that they are treating your child like this. The school know she is an atheist and are not respecting this. If it were my dd who is jewish I would be in there like a shot. In fact I did this last year and went to the head becasue I was concerned at the 'Jesus' message I felt she was getting. I do not want her to be told that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that Jesus Saves (yes I know other people believe this and that is their right). So I went to the head and asked him about it. He was able to reassure me and also it made me far more proactive about her religious education at home.

However I think you have done everything you can, by telling the teachers your self and having your child explain her point of veiw. Please go to the head and explain you want those bad behaviour points taken away and that you want a personal apology from the head that this will not happen again. I would expain to your dd that you are doing this as it is important and it will not get her in any trouble, perhaps she could come with you and explain too?

Don't go in on the attack and be agressive, that will not get results, write down what you want to say if necessary.

Good Luck

Snugs Wed 23-Mar-05 14:51:24

crunchie beat me to it

Ask the Head how the assemblies and RE lesson plans are structured and then, if need be, politely point out how they are failing the Nat.Curr. guidelines and ask how they intend to rectify that.

Agree with crunchie that your daughter should get an apology - it is important that she is not made to feel at fault.

blessima Wed 23-Mar-05 15:06:08

vw.....know exactly how you're feeling here. Dh and I are atheist and moved house to get dd into a good community school. We were under the impression that no one religion would be taught as fact. Not so I'm afraid. We have allowed both kids to decide themselves whether they "believe" or not but the school are definately pushing them in one direction. I was particularly angry when we went to see a Nativity (uncomfortable experience in itself!!) and were asked to sing a hymn at the end with the children. Several parents refrained so the head teacher insisted we do it again!!
We did contact the LEA at this point but we were told that even community schools taught religion in a broadly-Christian way.

Fortunately we now have a new head teacher and she seems a little less zealous in her ways, but time will tell....she's only been here since January.

vwvic Wed 23-Mar-05 23:21:58

Found out more information today. It would appear that following our discussions ay home, Erin had, as agreed, not sung the hymns at assembly. Some of the other non- christian kids had followed her example, meaning that in the heads view " not enough children were participating" WTF??? This then lead to her insisting that the hymns/songs were sung by everyone; she insisted that no one child had been singled out. She suggested, albeit indirectly, that Erin was just too sensitive, and perhaps hed been "awarded" the poor behaviour points for some other misdemeanor.

I wouldn't mind so much but the poor child has NEVER been awarded any poor behaviour points apart from these ones in the whole 3 years she's been there!!!

So what do I do now? Ever feel like your hitting a brick wall?

Snugs Wed 23-Mar-05 23:35:55

Have you been to see the Head, or has this extra info come from Erin or another source?

vwvic Thu 24-Mar-05 13:34:44

I found out through the class teacher. Appointment to see the head canonly be booked through the class teacher at our school. She won't be able to see us until after easter break.

BubblesDeVere Thu 24-Mar-05 13:37:16

That is disgusting saying things like that to a five year old, the poor mite.

Myself and dh and both athiest and as yet havne't really said anything to dd1 who is 5, though I must admit when she comes home preaching what she has been told at school i find it very hard to bite my tongue

jangly Thu 24-Mar-05 13:45:31

If she's coming home singing the hymns, doesn't that means she rather likes them? Couldn't you just say "that's a nice song" and leave it at that. (God has got some good tunes, and some very good poetry!)I wouldn't make a big thing about it tbh. She'll decide herself what she actually believes.
You do have the right to withdraw her from school religious assemblies if you desire.

Snugs Thu 24-Mar-05 14:10:03

jangly - either you've misunderstood the problem or we are reading different threads

vwvic and her dh are atheists and their dd seems quite happy to follow their lead - it is the school that is punishing her for not singing the hymns.

Snugs Thu 24-Mar-05 14:11:32

apologies - have just re-read BubblesDeVere's post and realise you are probably responding to that and not vwvic's original post.


<backs quietly out of thread hoping no-one has noticed >

jangly Thu 24-Mar-05 14:14:32

Tuesday 4 01 56 - vwvc, "every day she comes home singing a new hymn.."

Snugs Thu 24-Mar-05 14:27:06

Yes, but take the whole thread in context jangly - she is singing the hymns she has been forced to learn and seems to be doing so because of fear of punishment. I would take that to mean she is frightened by the schools reaction, not that she likes the hymns. Sorry, maybe we are just interpreting the comments differently.

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