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Has anyone opted their child out of 'worship'

(92 Posts)
ManateeEquineOhara Wed 13-Feb-13 21:12:40

We moved last year to a small town with one primary school which is CofE. Despite that not being ideal as an atheist I was keen for them to go to the local school, and anyway, the next 4 nearest schools are also all CofE.

At first there were no issues and my children were healthily critical of religious aspects of the school. However since then three issues have made me consider opting them out of 'worship'.

Firstly my daughter and a friend did not bow their heads to pray and were pointed out by the headmaster and he said he was very disappointed in them!

My son and a friend were doing some RE work and discussing god in the way of a story but were told they were not to talk of 'God' like that because he does exist and they must talk about him like he does exist!

Then in an Assembly (or as they call it, worship) the story of the three little pigs was read out. Then the children were told that the pigs whose houses were blown down did not trust in god, that is why they got eaten! And the pig whose house stayed up had trusted in god and that is why he was 'saved'.

In addition to this, I feel making a stand against the prevalence of CofE schools in this area as unless you go private you have to send your child to a faith based school.

So I found a local humanist website with a template letter and lots of good advice on opting out (although this website bizarrely reminds me of a religious cult website). Has anyone here done this? Has it been okay? Any advice please would be appreciated!

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 14:51:11

Wellthen - the system just seems wrong to me, though obviously the C of E are going to take advantage of it.

Wellthen Tue 19-Feb-13 17:52:54

Dromedary I agree with you. I am not against faith schools per se but I don't honestly see a need for them. However in arguments like this I tend to sit on the side of faith schools as people can be startlingly ignorant and offensive about them (not meaning you).

The church is responsible for offering the first ever free education in this country. That is the reason that we still have the rule that all state schools have daily worship of 'broadly Christian character.' They are holding on to their legacy and I think people think it seems churlish to bannish them from education. Maybe I'm wrong, but thats my take on it.

CheerfulYank Tue 19-Feb-13 18:02:28

The school seems a bit ott to me, and I am a practicing Christian.

But I'm American and don't have/believe in tax-funded faith schools either.

Shocked at forcing a Muslim child to kneel; just want to repeat that some church schools are open, inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all staff and pupils. And some people (esp on MN) are very hostile. I suppose not the same ones who are moving house, suddenly attending church, etc, to get their children into said schoosls.

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 21:05:36

Sorry - the children were all kneeling down on the floor already when I looked in, the muslim child then had her head forced down and her hands forced together.
I have some sympathy for people who attend church to get their child into a church school (I didn't). The church school may well be their local school. Even if it isn't, it is a state funded school, and why should a state funded school give preference to those who go to church? If there was one C of E primary school in town, with a big emphasis on teaching C of E beliefs, that might make a bit more sense, although personally I'm against religious segregation. But often the majority of schools are C of E. It seems wrong that non believers should be expected to make the effort to go to a non C of E school, even if it is miles from where they live and/or a poor school.

I think that many - I hope most - church schools are aware of the fact that most families use them because there is no alternative. We know that we must satisfy the Church, in the form of the SIAS inspection, while providing an acceptable education to children from all religions and belief systems. It is a fine balancing act, for which there is frequently little appreciation and understanding from both sides.

Startail Tue 19-Feb-13 22:24:11

I think the DDs' CofE school mostly managed the balancing act pretty well, not too much religion and using the church for things was actually useful as the school hall is a tight fit.

But I've always wondered are you asked if you believe in God to teach at a CofE school?

I can't see how you could get that past discrimination law round here as there are so many small church primaries.

Dromedary Tue 19-Feb-13 22:36:58

I just googled this and found the following on the website of the National Secular Society (hadn't heard of it before):

Faith schools are also permitted to discriminate in employment on religious grounds. Many teachers can find themselves blocked from certain positions because they are non-believers or of the 'wrong' faith. This means that suitably qualified teachers can be discriminated against in a third of all state schools.

Voluntary controlled religious schools can apply a religious test in appointing, remunerating and promoting one fifth of teaching staff, including the Head Teacher. In voluntary aided religious schools, the governing body employs the staff and can apply a religious test in appointing, remunerating and promoting all teachers. It may also apply a religious test to non-teaching staff if a 'genuine occupational requirement' can be demonstrated. In addition, teachers can be disciplined or dismissed for conduct which is 'incompatible with the precepts of the school's religi

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 07:03:58

They don't those days though, Dromedary- they used to.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 07:23:06

However, you will probably find that an atheist doesn't want to teach in a very religious school so there is self selection- they won't apply.

Wellthen Wed 20-Feb-13 08:29:37

I have taught in a faith school and have had many interviews for jobs in them. The majority of primary schools are CE! I've never been asked about my faith although you would be expected to understand that Jesus's teachings would be at the centre of their ethos. I have also never been asked or expected to teach that Christianity is the truth. I would refuse if I was.

Most they only require the Head to be practising and they have a member of the church on their governors. As exotic says, they are permitted to discriminate but most don't.

exoticfruits Wed 20-Feb-13 08:47:13

I know one that discriminated and then they realised they were missing out on the best teachers!

ManateeEquineOhara Thu 21-Feb-13 07:00:05

The majority of primary schools are not CofE. From a little google there are 16,971 primary schools in England and only 4,500 primary and middle church schools. Very rough figures as first I came across but even if quite out it is nowhere near a majority. But in this area and others it is a majority.

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 07:30:28

The majority in villages- the minority in towns. You have to know the history of education to understand why.

Wellthen Thu 21-Feb-13 09:13:51

Fair enough. Thats interesting to know actually as it certainly seems like the majority are faith schools. I was also wrong about the funding for voluntary aided, its not nearly as much as I thought. Just goes to show how much control they have!

However, as someone pointed out much further up thread, many non-faith schools end up being more religious if they happen to have a religious head who follows the rule about 'broadly Christian character' which many schools completely ignore in my experience.

exoticfruits Thu 21-Feb-13 09:16:35

True-the only way is to visit the school and ask the questions-even then you might get change if the Head changes. I don't think that many people ask the questions because they think there are secular schools.

And many faith schools are scrupulous in their inclusion and respect for other views. You just have to visit individual schools and talk to the head teacher. In this country the views of the head teacher play a key role in deciding the character of the school; in my experience, far more than the church or the LEA.

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