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Advice regarding faith school please

(22 Posts)
ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 14:49:17

DH and I are athiest and as we are now in admission season we have found ourselves wondering about schools as DD will be due to start Sept 2012.

All the schools in our area are either CofE or there is one Catholic school.

On the face of it, the better school I think is the catholic school but how do I decide between CofE or Catholic? I know nothing about Catholicism and only basic Christian knowledge - I didn't really pay attention to RE at school myself!

Is it rude of me to ask the Catholic school how much religion they teach? Will they be preparing my DD for communion/confession etc? She is not baptised at all, let alone into the Catholic religion.

The Catholic school does accept non-religious pupils and is actually under subscribed with small class sizes. The CofE is very oversubscribed. DD has no siblings and we fall into the last category of admissions for every school as it will just be the distance criteria that gets us in.

I don't even know what I'm asking. Maybe would you send your DC to a Catholic school if you weren't Catholic?

By no means am I against religion. each to their own. and I don't want this to sound rude to Catholics. Just want to gain an understanding as to what my DD will be taught without appearing to be rude to the school itself if we don't participate. Not sure what I should be asking them when I go to view or in which order to place my preferences.

Any advice appreciated smile

grumplestilskin Tue 18-Oct-11 14:54:43

its not rude to ask, they are so fed up with fakers that an honest athiest will be met well

my advice is visit each and every school and get FIRST HAND information about the particular schools for yourselves, so many chinese whispers re schools

as a catholic whose been to catholic schools there was no problem with non catholic children however you do have to be accepting that catholicism is part of everything at a catholic school, assembly, meal time, the playground, the hallway, maths, english, geography, art. if you're fine with that then there's no problem with just opting out of the major religious stuff like RE class and communion. But catholic schools are not like non faith schools with a few extra opt in sessions of religion in my experience.

visit your local ones, all of them, and find out what they're like, good luck x

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 15:40:07

Thanks grumplestilskin smile

I will definitely be honest about not being remotely religious. I would never dream of pretending otherwise.

When you say catholicism is part of everything, how do you mean? How can it be part of lunch or geography for example?

I have the dates of all the open days on my calendar so will be visiting most of the schools in my area.

grumplestilskin Tue 18-Oct-11 15:46:16

its used as a tool for all pastoral care and anit bullying, fund raising, community spirit, inclusiveness, discipline, respect, fun activites, celebrations (other than the obvious communion and confirmation), respect for god and all his creations and all that. prayers before lunch, fund raising activities for missions, theres a LOT of fund raising and charity activities and there were in the schools I went to all catholic charities, we were paired with schools in impoverished countries and would learn about their country through that, visiting missionaries would talk about the countries they'd been to and the differences, Art was particularly religious as a lot of art history is anyway but also the art and craft activites would often be around whatever celebration was held that time of year, we made crucifixes out of broken clothes pegs and st bridget's crosses etc

grumplestilskin Tue 18-Oct-11 15:48:20

school trips also always involved a monastary or a church or something like that at some point too. And in secondary geography we looked at how the environment can affect buildings and the building was a church.... (sloping graves and all that)

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 16:19:32

I suppose one of the things I worry about is that DD will feel left out if she is potentially the only non carholic child in her class. She won't have any baptism items to take in if asked and she won't attend church outside of school. I'm just not sure if exposing her to something I don't 'agree' with (agree is the wrong word) is worth it.

She is obviously going to be exposed to some level of religious education no matter where she goes and I want to bring her up understanding that many peoplke have many different beliefs but I don't want it rammed down her and our throats.

That's kind of why I asked here instead of googling for myself. I didn't want to google catholicism in schools and get loads of biased opinions in either directin.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 16:25:33

Reading that back I realise that perhaps catholic education isn't for us. ill still go and view the school though, just in case but i think my last post talked myself out of it.

but that only leaves two other options and isn't there three preferences to write down?

angelpantser Tue 18-Oct-11 16:44:51

My DS has just started in Reception at a Catholic school. We are Catholic though and the school was oversubscribed so the entire intake was Catholic children. My two DDs have both been through the same primary school and during their time there were non Catholics in the class. These children joined in services/Mass by singing but were not prepared for Confession and Communion with the rest of the class.

I agree that the ethos of the school is heavily influenced by Catholicism but this does has a positive impact on pastoral care and there is emphasis on treating your classmates and the staff with respect. The children say a short prayer at the beginning and end of the school day and say grace at lunchtime. However my DS is currently learning about Hinduism and Diwali and I also remember my DDs studying Judaism and Islam. The school follows an RE programme prepared by the local Diocese and the same Literacy/Numeracy/other subject programme that you would find in an non-faith school. I agree that there is a lot of fund raising though!

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 16:52:24

Last year the school admitted 30 children, 24 of whom were Catholic and 6 were not. This year they are only offering 20 places.

Maybe I should just be grateful if we get in there that we have a place at a good school regardless. And I believe it is a damn good school.

Perhaps I'll just put it third on my list. confused

If we get in, I will definitely be making sure they understand we are athiest.

I have just seen in AIBU that there is a simlar thread so I apologise if anyone has repeated themselves by answering this thread.

There are parts of Catholicism I don't agree with though. I know they don't agree with contraception or abortion. Is there anything else on those lines I need ot be aware of (without resorting to google)?

angelpantser Tue 18-Oct-11 17:35:19

The Catholic Church has teachings on sex before marriage, abortion, contraception and homosexuality amongst others. My DDs only encountered these subjects at their non Catholic senior school where they were dealt with in science and PSHE. They weren't mentioned at primary. The primary school tends to concentrate more on relationships - in a we love everyone kind of way.

I agree that you should go and have a look around. Be prepared for statues and cruxifixes. grin

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 20:23:55

I guess the more extreme beliefs would never be taught to primary age children. I'm sure they aren't indoctrinating, just using their beliefs to teach. I'm still undecided to be fair.

sunnyday123 Tue 18-Oct-11 20:45:02

if they are only offering 20 places, you may well be better considering a more realistic choice - if 24 were catholic last year, even though this can change you should check the admissions criteria as i imagine all non catholic siblings are above you so you may be too low on the criteria anyway - just saying it may be worth checking so you don't 'waste' a school choice!

I see no problem having a non catholic in RC school (i'm not RC but DD is)- but if the majority are then i think it'll be easier you you and DC if you at least support the school and its teaching. DD is at RC school and its unbelievable the depth of thought she comes out with and only in Y1!!!!

sunnyday123 Tue 18-Oct-11 20:48:26

oh, when i say depth of thought - i mean just general questions about god etc. Just last night she said "Does god know who santa is?" to which i replied yes and she said " well if he's always watching and knows santa then why doesnt he make sure santa gives all the african kids presents"!! Being in a RC schools effects how i answer such a question. She also 'promises on baby jesus' for everything!

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 20:53:01

We fit into the last admissions criteria for every school in my area.

I am imagining not getting anything. In fact I'm pretty anxious about the whole thing tbh.

I know 20 places sounds a really small amount but I only live in a small town and there are about 6 other schools, more heavily subscribed than this one. It just so happens that I can only get to three of the 7 schools as I don't drive and the walk would be far too long. There are only these 3 in walking distance. So I wouldn't be wasting a choice, as I only have three anyway. If I don't put this one down then I'll only have two, and what if DD doesn't get accepted into those two either?

sparkle12mar08 Tue 18-Oct-11 20:53:36

To go back to the original choice/question, I don't think I would send my child to a faith school if I wasn't regligious (I'm not). I just couldn't. If it really were the case that there were no non-faith options open to me at all I would consider moving house first. It is indoctrination frankly, and I wouldn't expose my children to it. It's the all pervasive element that earlier posters have pointed out that I have trouble with, and I'm not naive enough to think that I could protect or isolate my children from it if they were part of the faith school community. So for me it's a no.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 20:58:59

So does a CofE class as a faith school as well?

After you last post sunnyday123, I really don't think I could deal with DD coming home with comments like that. I just wouldn't know what to say to that. To me, there is no baby jesus. It'd just confuse the hell out of her.

sparkle, I think I have been trying so hard to keep an open mind and have been saying to myself that I'm sure she'll make her own mind up and thinking I can protect her from alot of it but after hearing some of the catholic beliefs i don't think I can, and I think I agree with you.

So, new question...

Can I just put two choices down? And what if DD is not accepted into either?

sunnyday123 Tue 18-Oct-11 21:03:54

you can put dd down for 2 but it does limit your choice- if you dont get in either you will be given the nearest available school place - which could be miles away. This happened to a lady near me with a baby who had a pram and didn't drive. She said she only wanted non religious school. Near me there are 5 schools - 1 RC, 2 CE 1 methodist and 1 community. She put the community and didnt get in and got allocated one 4 miles away despite religious schools nearby having places!

CofE is a faith schools but there are great variations so worths a visit - some teach just the whole 'love thy neighbour' etc and dont go into much depth whereas others are full on!

sparkle12mar08 Tue 18-Oct-11 21:04:07

Yes of course it does, the clue's in the name! However some CoE schools have a much looser approach to religion in school than others, but some are possibly even more religious or 'high church' than catholic schools. The only way of knowing whether you'd be happy with any given school is to go and see them, as many times as is necessary.

ALovelyBunchOfCoconuts Tue 18-Oct-11 21:15:17

The other two are both CofE. The are no community schools in my town.

The only other school near me is private and we can't afford that grin

sunnyday - i'm worried that will happen to me.

this is a minefield. can't wait til i've been to see them so I have a clearer picture.

sunnyday123 Tue 18-Oct-11 21:23:00

honestly i would put all your nearest - by looking at the criteria and how they took last year you will get a clearer picture. The reality is - if you only put 2 and got allocated one miles away the likelihood is even if you risked the Rc and got it - the far away ones may still be available afterwards if you change your mind iyswim? - but do research popularity as it differs greatly between regions. For me having a good faith school was more important than a rubbish local school so i travel 3 miles each way.

sunnyday123 Tue 18-Oct-11 21:24:21

what i mean was i only had the choice of a rubbish local so risked the faith one and i think its worth it - but then i'm not anti-religious?!

grumplestilskin Tue 18-Oct-11 22:21:38

other things: while as one of the catholic kids I never pin pointed the kids who didn't do things like communion and confirmation, but you do need to be aware that they are BIIIIIG deals and the children who do have them will have massive parties and more gifts than christmas and birthday combined. Plus pretty dresses/suits.

Not a massive thing if everything else is "right" but what kid wouldn't feel a little left out when their friends are all talking about which bikes they got and what their dresses are like.

what you need to decide is what "religion rammed down her throat" means to YOU as it means different things to different people, then visit the schools and see how the two compaire x

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