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Help! Religious Education in Primary Schools...Withdraw?

(23 Posts)
AS001 Thu 26-Jan-17 15:50:11

Just wondering what parents of primary school aged children think about religious education in school? Do you think it's okay to withdraw children from it? confused

It is a hard choice if the school only pushes one religion, doesn't feel like it teaches tolerance and understanding if the syllabus isn't diverse hmm

smilingsarahb Thu 26-Jan-17 15:59:53

How do your children feel about it. What would they do instead. Eg the Plymouth brethren at my DCs Cofe school sat in the corner with headphones listening to audio books. Which was fine, but they missed out on learning about all the world's religions. What is your syllabus. In our area it covers all the main religions and concepts like special places etc.

EweAreHere Thu 26-Jan-17 16:03:06

I have previously withdrawn a child from RE. You can do this. And you don't have to explain 'why'.

RE is supposed to be neutral. It is supposed to be about teaching children about all religions. At the time, it certainly didn't feel that way in the school. It was more of an 'us' (Christians) versus everyone else feel, and I wasn't having it.

TwitterQueen1 Thu 26-Jan-17 16:06:20

It's a personal decision obviously, but do you know that the school pushes only one religion?

RE is often really interesting for young children because of the story-telling elements and then the subsequent discussions afterwards about right and wrong.

Personally I think they may miss out - unless it is brainwashing of course. Can you ask what topics are covered and what the approach is?

sonlypuppyfat Thu 26-Jan-17 16:07:56

The last thing your child needs to learn about is the religion that shaped the country where they live

CherrySkull Thu 26-Jan-17 16:09:10

i'm pagan, but i haven't withdrawn my kids, what i DO do, is i make sure i provide an education about all religions by talking about them at home, and when they come home stating christian things, i counter it with why other religions believe something else.

I don't think the school religion is a problem, my parents are agnostic and never went near a church other than getting us baptised, but we did learn about it at school (Church affiliated primary) but my parents did what i do and we very much made up our own minds. My brother ended up an atheist, and I started christian, but by 16 had fallen out of love with it and ended up Pagan, which i've firmly been for 20 years now!

SuperPug Thu 26-Jan-17 16:09:57

I would be happy with religious education, linking to world religions, philosophy for children etc. If it's planned and taught well it provides a fantastic link between subjects and develops critical thinking.
Religious in would not be something I would want to teach (atheist) and I wouldn't want religion forced on my children.
I would ask to look at the syllabus, textbooks etc.

SuperPug Thu 26-Jan-17 16:10:36

Instruction not in, phone keypad !

TeenAndTween Thu 26-Jan-17 19:30:32

Religious education should not be pushing one faith, but educating the children about all the major world religions. You should be able to ask to see the topics to be covered for the year / key stage. If it is not balanced I would be raising this as an issue.

Religious worship on the other hand is a different ball game. You can withdraw from that. However assuming state primary (as opposed to your child being in eg a jewish school), that might well mean your child can't take part in nativity plays etc. You can't pick and choose.

BackforGood Thu 26-Jan-17 20:18:24

I think it's incredibly important to know why people around us do certain things or wear certain things, or don't wear certain things, or eat certain things or don't eat certain things. I think it's important to know about history and the culture of the country you live in - so much of which has been dominated by religion for many, many centuries. It make sense to understand why, in the UK we have weekends on Saturday and Sunday and not other days, and why everyone has time off at Christmas and Easter. I think it's important to understand about how politics and world news is affected by religion , but how groups that do things in the name of one religion or another are so often wildly extreme and in no way a reflection of any religion. I think it's important to know just how similar so many of the major world religions are. I also think it's important to hear well know stories from different faiths, and to understand why there are all the different festivals celebrated throughout the year.

I can't understand why anyone would want to deprive their child of the opportunity to learn all that alongside their peers.

toobloodycold Thu 26-Jan-17 20:18:24

Withdrawing your child is a wasted opportunity OP. Let them go, let them question, and use it as an opportunity to talk to them at home about religion. Tell them that what their teachers are saying is just one perspective, and that there are other perspectives. Tell them what your perspective is, and tell them they will make their own minds up when they are older. All this is very good for your child's critical thinking skills, and if they ask pertinent questions in class, encouraged by your conversations at home, then it will be good for the critical thinking skills of all the other children in the class too.

My 2 kids both went to a very religious school, and are both confident in their scepticism as a result. If I'd withdrawn them they would be less confident because they wouldn't know enough about it to have strong views.

TealGiraffe Thu 26-Jan-17 20:32:05

I can only speak for the primary i work in, but i would say removing them really isnt necessary. We don't push any religion or present any as fact. It is done as "jews believe / sikhs believe / christians believe".

So the lesson would say "christians believe that Jesus is the son of god" rather than "jesus is the son of god".

They are not all about actual 'god' either. So for example the lesson last week was on faith leaders, and what did they have in common, what makes a good leader, what kind of leader would you want to be.

Some lessons are on religious buildings, why they have certain features etc. The kids also visit a mosque and a church and do art work based on that.

At christmas we did the story behind the christingle then made them. It helps them actually understand these things rather than just seeing them at nativity.

Its really interesting actually because we have a mix of christians / hindus / muslims / non religious in our class and they have had some really nice respectful conversations, and learnt a lot through each other.

I dont see the problem in knowing stuff.

Also to add to a pp above, we did have one pissed off mum who removed her child from religious worship and classes. Then wondered why her son wasn't in the carol service or nativity hmm

roguedad Sat 28-Jan-17 07:57:36

All depends on how it is done and the overall culture of the school. You can get perfectly sensible primary schools who interpret the agreed syllabus in a way that provides a balanced introduction to all faiths and none, together with an exploration of all kinds of life issues. You can get schools, esp in UK, with an evangelical nut job on the governors or staff who think it's a license to brainwash. We have one of those in our village and we removed our kids from the school altogether. Then there are schools that claim to manage withdrawal sensibly then maliciously provide no proper alternative for the child to use their time, and then isolate the child further by excluding them from any event that might have a hint of religion about them.

It's not a bad idea to check the school library to see what the religion section looks like. If it's all about just one faith than the school does not know what a school is for.

Feenie Sat 28-Jan-17 08:46:24

Then there are schools that claim to manage withdrawal sensibly then maliciously provide no proper alternative for the child to use their time, and then isolate the child further by excluding them from any event that might have a hint of religion about them.



meditrina Sat 28-Jan-17 08:57:16

I really wouldn't withdraw a DC from RE (and later in secondary from SRE) any more than I would from maths or English.

Because in a diverse society learning about the main faiths (and if you're lucky some minor ones) strikes me as absolutely necessary underpinning understanding, tolerance and respect.

I am of course assuming here that the school is following the normal RE course and it doing it competently.

If a school is 'pushing' one religion, that is far more likely to be in the way they go about collective worship and you opt out if that separately, and of course it doesn't have the downsides of omitting RE.

If you don't like the ethics of a school,then all you can do is look for a place at another. I do realise that in some places the demographics mean it's hard/impossible to find another place, but it's always worth trying.

meditrina Sat 28-Jan-17 09:04:00

"and then isolate the child further by excluding them from any event that might have a hint of religion about them"

Yes, if you withdraw from religious activity, then of course they do this because that's the whole point of it

So yes, if by 'hint of religion' you mean Christmas and Easter, then it is entirely correct that that withdrawn pupils do not participate in nativities etc. it's not malicious, it's simply doing what the parent requested.

Whether the pupil's alternate activities in the time withdrawn form class at parents' request can fairly be described as 'isolation' depends on where the school can accommodate them. Of course thay won't be with their classmates (in compliance with parental request) and probably won't be put in with another class. So somewhere where someone can keep an eye on them with a book is likely to be the pragmatic option.

empirerecordsrocked Sat 28-Jan-17 09:09:59

We're catholic, my children are at catholic primary - the Re syllabus is diverse - they learn about all religions.

ChilliMum Sat 28-Jan-17 09:15:48

Can you speak to the teacher about the syllabus? It might not be what you expect.
I withdrew my daughter as we are not religious and the re class was taught by a member of the local church (Imo biased).
However this year the teacher came to parents evening and gave a presentation on the syllabus and priorities for this year. Very much about understanding, respect and diversity of different religions so I changed my mind.

GraceGrape Sat 28-Jan-17 09:20:41

Is it a church school? I teach in a C of E school and the RE lessons are very Christianity -based, although still presented as "Christians believe..." rather than "We believe...".

When I taught in a non-church school, the RE curriculum taught a variety of different religions with a fairly equal balance.

BurnTheBlackSuit Sat 28-Jan-17 09:34:11

Done properly, RS is one of the most important subjects. About 80% of the world's population follow a religion, so by understanding religions, you understand people and their behaviours ans motivations. Denying a child's participation in RS denys them the opportunity to understand why their friend fasts at Ramadan or celebrates Diwali, and to understand important world issues- like the Middle East.

Christianity will have a larger share of the RS syllabus that other religions because there are many more Christians in this country (and the world) than any other religion and also because the Church of England is the state Church of England, with our head of state also being in charge of the church. It therefore ties in with current and historical learning about this country.

So long as the schools RS isn't "Jesus is God and we all believe in God" and they do learn about religions apart from Christianity some of the time, then there is no reason to withdraw your children.

greenfolder Sat 28-Jan-17 10:50:26

When i went to a non religious state school we had RE which only taught the bible. Religious assembly every day and said grace. It had no more impact on me than being asked to line up in the playground or move lesson when the bell went.

Helspopje Sat 28-Jan-17 10:57:12

Are you sure that they push one religion?
Our c of e school teaches and celebrates a different religion in rotation

neuroticmumof3 Sun 29-Jan-17 17:02:56

i don't have an issue with religion being taught as an academic subject, religious groups and beliefs have shaped the world and continue to do so.
i do have a problem with my dd's non religious state primary as they have brought evangelical groups into the school to facilitate Prayer Space and plan to involve them in pastoral care at the school! the school told me it was not religious but the prayer space web site say they introduce thousands of children to prayer and also that they have witnessed spontaneous healing during these events at schools!
i have done my reaearch and found that these particular groups see homosexuality as a sin (those wji repent their same sex attraction and practise celibacy are welcome); sex outside marriage as a sin; gender dysmorphia and sex change as a lie and a sin; they view pedophilia as 'sexual attraction to children' and allow pedophiles into their congregations under the same remit as homosexuals, ie repent and practise celibacy. this completely overlooks the fact that pedophilia, like rape, is an issue of power and control rather than sexual desire per se. they see a man and woman who are married with children as the only acceptable form of family. they believe women have different roles to play than men.
i am told they will not express these views at school but i don't think that's the point and i am not happy! The secular society and humanist organisation have reports from parents that demonstrate they do reveal their true beliefs from time to time.
why are non faith schools allowing such narrow views of christianity into our schools? they practise 'hate the sin, love the sinner' but i'm not comfortable with it.
they have a right to their religious beliefs and practices but this is a state school funded by those they view as sinners, and sinners are responsible for all that is wrong with the world according to them.

i feel really uncomfortable at the school now because senior staff have allowed this group into the school and are therefore validating these views.

i am writing a formal complaint but the head and govenors seem very keen on this groups' involvement with the school.

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