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State school visits to church

(40 Posts)
mummysealion Sun 21-Feb-16 21:51:06

Hi all. My DS goes to our local state school. He's in reception, so we're still getting used to the school way of life. My husband and I are atheists and intend bringing our children up with open minds until they can decide for themselves.
At Christmas time, my son was a king in the class nativity play. That's fine, we discussed different people's beliefs. The teacher (who is a practicing Christian) told me they told the kids that's just what some people believe, but that's not the impression I got from talking to my son about it, or watching the play. I opted out of the school's trip to a church service at Christmas time (to a stony reception from the school and threats of unauthorised absence). Now I see that the year above has been taken to a service at the church again and "learned a lot from their talk with Father Whatshisname".
The teacher told me that they have to promote British values and that the church is part of this.
I feel kind of blindsided by the whole thing! Is it right that they can keep taking them out of school to attend church services?! They're not taking them to any other religious venues (synagogue, mosque etc). To my view, it's attempting to recruit them to Christianity, not teaching them British values or giving them an education about religions.
Am I overreacting? Are state schools allowed to repeatedly take children to church? Is that really what is meant by British values?! As a British law abiding atheist I find that rather patronising. I feel a little worried about what they might be telling my child about something that I disagree with, and that has no bearing on his education. It's NOT a faith school.
I'd really appreciate some input from people's experience of other schools.

Thanks all.

NewLife4Me Sun 21-Feb-16 21:56:17

Is it a Faith School by any chance?
Although the community schools in our area visit a local church as part of RE

WordGetsAround Sun 21-Feb-16 21:59:59

I'd be working on that open mind of yours! A couple of visits isn't going to indoctrinate a child when his two athiest parents are his key influencers. Chill out

FishWithABicycle Sun 21-Feb-16 22:02:35

The law for schools is not that non-faith schools provide an entirely secular education.

They are supposed to have regular assemblies that are broadly Christian in nature (we are not a secular state, the state is officially C of E) and have RE classes and activities. It's not unusual for non-faith state schools to do a trip to a church and a mosque and a synagogue and whatever other places of worship are nearby and welcoming.

You say you want your children to grow up open minded but withdrawing them from these parts of their education, as if religion was something yucky to be avoided, is more likely to result in them having very closed minds.

Ohwoolballs Sun 21-Feb-16 22:04:38

I'm an agnostic adult and went to Brownies/Guides in a C of E church hall and throughly primary school went in visits to churches, mosques, synagogues etc and never felt like I was being brainwashed or pressures. Like all kids I loved the school trip out and a nosey in a new building. Let your kid experience these things, but also talk to the teacher if your worried it's all abit one sided (not going to any other faiths places of worship.)

Ohwoolballs Sun 21-Feb-16 22:05:17

That's meant to be through out, not thoroughly 😬

mummysealion Sun 21-Feb-16 22:06:31

NewLife4Me, no it's not a faith school. It's a bog standard state school.
WordGetsAround, I am open minded and chilled out, thank you. That's why I'm calmly asking for other's opinions and experiences.

mummysealion Sun 21-Feb-16 22:09:55

Thanks for replying. I'm very happy for him to learn about religions. We have a lot of religious people in our family. I think I'll talk to the school to see if they can take them to other faith settings too.

Imperialleather2 Sun 21-Feb-16 22:35:11

I think you are over reacting. I'm an atheist and ds did a trip to a church just before half term.

I emphasised the stained glass windows and the architecture of the building rather than what goes on inside.

I seriously don't think your dc is going to get brain washed by a couple of visits to the church.

I would save your battles.

mummysealion Sun 21-Feb-16 22:38:25

Thanks :-)

Wigeon Sun 21-Feb-16 22:44:58

I am an atheist with DC in a non faith state school and think you are massively over reacting too. So your DS was in the nativity, and the whole school also had a service in a church at Christmas. Then the year above visited a church and had a talk from the vicar. Presumably because they were learning about Christianity in RE. And the nativity and service were because it was Christmas. Sounds completely fine to me. Really doesn't sound like indoctrination to me.

Do you have any mosques or or temples or synagogues near you? My DCs' school do also have a visit from the local Hindu priest, visits to the mosque etc as well as the church visits.

AndNowItsSeven Sun 21-Feb-16 22:51:57

Regardless of your own personal beliefs your ds will decide for himself what he believes. Visiting churches or atheist parents won't have any impact.
You do seem hostile to Christianity though despite saying you want your ds to decide for himself.

BackforGood Mon 22-Feb-16 00:02:32

Another who thinks you need to take another look at what 'having an open mind' looks like.
In order to have an open mind, you don't need to be brought up to think that a Church is some kind of brainwashing cult.

The Church has played a massive part in the History of the UK. (Some bad things no doubt but also a huge amount of social care - including education through the centuries). Things like when our holidays are, are all set up from Christian beliefs. There is incredible architecture and art work in so many Churches (don't know about the Church the school visits, but a lot of history was done at the Church near my dcs school). Are you also going to make them miss out on visits to other places of worship? Or is it just Churches that you think are somehow going to brainwash your dc in an hour's visit once or twice a year?

MishMooshAndMogwai Mon 22-Feb-16 01:14:49

I'm in exactly the same boat OP!

Dd seems to be talking a LOT about God since starting school (state) and visits the church etc which is fine but with no mention of any other religions. I firmly believe that all key religions should have an equal share in the curriculum and that they should be taught as beliefs rather than fact. That goes for both state and faith schools.

I know exactly what you're saying OP.

PrettyBrightFireflies Mon 22-Feb-16 01:28:39

I firmly believe that all key religions should have an equal share in the curriculum

That might be what you believe, but its not what you signed up for.

As a pp said, State schools are required by law to conduct acts of collective worship and integrate British values (including Christianity) into the school day.

If you want your DCs to receive a secular education then a state school is not for you.

HeadDreamer Mon 22-Feb-16 02:15:09

DD goes to the local CoE school and I totally understand what you are saying. DH and I are atheists. DD is in reception and have started talking about God, praying. She even told me it to say OMG! I would much prefer state schools to not talk about Christianity at all. And I don't feel they cover any other religions.

I hope she is not going to be indoctrinated at all.

HeadDreamer Mon 22-Feb-16 02:17:02

I understand state schools are all religious in nature. That's why we didn't put her in the out of catchment non CoE primary, and picked the local one instead. (Not that our chances of getting in the non catchment school is good at all)!

nooka Mon 22-Feb-16 02:38:39

We had a similar experience. There was a Catholic and a CoE school in our area, so we assumed the community school would be fairly secular. However it turned out that the head was good friends with one of the local vicars and so he spent a fair bit of time at the school. We only really discovered this when dd started telling us all about Jesus (ds had obviously) tuned it all out) and when we explained our own feelings about religion she said that we were wrong and Father X was right because "he has a big house". So a fair few visits to the church had obviously happened too. No other religious figures visited school nor did the school visit any other places of worship.

OP there isn't as far as I am aware anything you can do except withdraw your son from any trips to the church and any religious assemblies.

If it's any consolation when the head retired the vicar disappeared. Eight years later dd is as atheist as the rest of us.

icklekid Mon 22-Feb-16 02:42:46

headdreamer out of interest why did you send her to a CofE school then?

All schools will teach all religions. Arranging trips wherever possible to a variety of places of worship is great. Op I would suggest that allowing your dc to visit all of these would be helpful to them. There will be a Christian act of worship daily in all schools because that is what the government expects

nooka Mon 22-Feb-16 03:59:15

The OP has already said that the school (like my children's school) is not taking them to other religious buildings, just the church. And doing so not as part of learning about religions, but as part of 'British values". I'd be pretty uncomfortable about that presentation as well as the trip itself.

Hamiltoes Mon 22-Feb-16 04:40:40

I'm in exactly the same boat OP and I don't think you're over-reacting. I'm in Scotland so its either your local Catholic school OR your local other school, you don't get a choice of schools here.

I'm not religious and if anything I dislike christianity. Happy for DD to learn about it as with all other religions and have taught her about it before as many in my family are Christians. She was an angel in the school play and came home telling me that I wasn't allowed to go and see her perform because I don't even believe in the baby jesus. She got quite upset about the whole thing, and worried that I wouldn't get in to heaven because I don't believe and how would she find me if she is there and I'm not?

To say I was a bit livid was an understatement. Years of trying to teach reason, logic and science and a few months at school had turned her into some devout preacher.

I then find out from another parent with older siblings at school that the last day of term is spent in the church for the morning.. No mention of this from teacher. So I had to ask him the day before what other arrangements are in place for non-Christian children who don't participate in church services and there is none! I said I'd be keeping her off and he explained it would be down as unauthorised absence.

I don't think religion has any place in schools in 2016, and if it does there should be an option for people to opt their children out. Absolutely ridiculous they are allowed to get away with teaching this nonsense.

spanieleyes Mon 22-Feb-16 07:22:23

The school won't have taken them to any other religious buildings YET as the OPs child is still in Reception! Over the coming years they will visit other religious buildings-we have visits to they synagogue, mandir, mosque and other christian places of worship ( catholic church, methodist hall etc) but not all in the first few terms!

meditrina Mon 22-Feb-16 07:42:16

"The school won't have taken them to any other religious buildings YET"

I agree. Over the primary years, my DC visited churches, a mosque, a temple, a gurdwara and a synagogue, plus had various speakers come in at times of major festivals.

Give them a bit of time.

Learning about religions is important, and I would recommend not opting your DC out of these trips. It is however your choice, and schools know there will always be some families who refuse to let their DC learn about other stances than what is held in their home.

Unicorncatsack Mon 22-Feb-16 07:45:31

Chill out OP. It's only a church, it won't bite confused

Atheist here too BTW. Though my dad is really militant about it and it gets very irritating.

HeadDreamer Mon 22-Feb-16 08:20:53

icklekid we picked it because it's our catchment school. Looking at the admission statistics, there weren't any chance of us getting into any other school. It's also the only school we can walk to. When they say school choices, it's not like you actually have any real choice. We are already lucky that all the local kids can get into their catchment school. I know there are places in the country where you can't even get into your closest.

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