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Atheism / Church of England school

(79 Posts)
Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 15:06:57

Ok, first of all, this thread is not an attack on any religion. I’m not here to debate the rights/wrongs/truth or facts about anyone’s beliefs. I’m merely asking for advice especially from people who have been in this situation before.

My husband and I moved from a large town so we could raise our daughter in the countryside/village atmosphere. Part of the allure was the small village type schools which we are lucky enough to be surrounded by two good/outstanding rated ones.
Our daughter started in September and when we went to visit, the head showed us round and we asked him how our atheist beliefs fit in with the C of E teachings and philosophies.
We are aware that every school must follow the national curriculum but we essentially wanted to know how religious it would be there on a day to day basis.

The head advised us that even though it’s a small school only about five families are practicing christians and they have a small prayer corner in each classroom because they have too and anything else is essentially, tick boxing. A child/family could be as religious or non religious as they wanted without it being thrown down our necks.

In the past few months I’m starting to get a different insight into it though.

They have assemblies where parents can go and it’s very religious. One of the teachers is a devout Jehovah’s Witness yet she presumably (given the age group she looks after,) teaches science and yesterday my daughter came out with ash on her forehead.

Now look, before anyone says “it’s a c of e I don’t know what you expected” please remember I never went to this type of school. This is my only child so I have no experience of this sort of thing and the school wasn’t quite sold to us in this way.

I’m just wondering if anyone else is an atheist and sends their kid to a Christian school and how they deal with these sorts of things?

Thank you xx

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Babdoc Wed 26-Feb-20 18:39:49

What is it that worries you, OP? Raising children with good Christian moral values is surely something to be encouraged.
And it gives children a sense of security and self esteem to know that they are valued and loved unconditionally by God.

Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 18:58:42

My child’s morals aren’t assigned to Christianity thank you and evidently you didn’t read any of my post as I’m not looking for personal judgement on my beliefs and parenting. I asked how atheists manage having their child in a religious school.

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Saucery Wed 26-Feb-20 19:01:37

I made sure my dc understood that it was a belief to be respected but that they didn’t have to share it. And that the morals underpinning faith can equally be shared by people who don’t believe those morals were sent directly to us from a God.
Unusual to have a JW teacher at a Cof E school, though.

Serenschintte Wed 26-Feb-20 19:02:17

I’m a bit surprised that she came home with ash on her forehead yesterday as today is Ash Wednesday. Also JW don’t do Ash Wednesday afaik.
When you say it’s very religious at school assemblies- what exactly do you mean? My understanding is that under the national curriculum schools are required to have a religious element to assemblies/teaching etc because the UK has the Church of England as its national religion.

anothermansmother Wed 26-Feb-20 19:05:51

Faith schools are supported financially by the church and therefore have a more Christian focus. A Jehovah's Witness will not be c of e and have a very different if Christianity. I'm surprised the head told you it was a box ticking exercise as essentially you have taken a place which could have been given to a faith child.
You can ask for your child to be removed from all religious activities, but in a church school this would make them stand out to their peers.
I'm also surprised your child had ashes put in them yesterday as today is Ash Wednesday.
Ask to go in in reception they usually have a billion activities for parents to go and see. Other than that I wouldn't be concerned especially if the worst that can happen is your child grows up with good Christian values.

Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:06:50

Hi, that’s what we’ve been trying to tell her too but it’s very hard when she’s only four because what they tell her is the truth so to speak.
Yes I agree and was shocked to find that out too. I saw the teacher at a soft play and one of the other mums that I was with (who’s a devout Christian) told me about this woman’s faith. She’s so strict that she doesn’t even associate with non believers/ JWs. Made me question how she can teach science and in what manner she does it.

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Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:09:28

So was I!!! 😂 I even said to the teacher “but today is pancake day and Wednesday is tomorrow.” Perhaps it was the only day they could get the person in (whoever did it as I assume it wasn’t just the teacher walking around with a bowl of ash.)
The JW doesn’t teach my child at the moment. She’s in a higher year group.

Oh ok. I figured in this day and age all religions were taught as that and not necessarily the basis for schooling unless it’s a religious school to begin with.

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Saucery Wed 26-Feb-20 19:11:54

She has to follow the curriculum. There isn’t going to be any Creationism at a little village C of E school. Ofsted wouldn’t like that grin
I’d spend less time gossiping at soft play about teachers tbh. It’s a massive leap from Jehovah’s Witness to Not Delivering Science Targets.

As I said, it’s really unusual for a JW to work in a Faith school. Maybe your gossip source got that wrong?

Saucery Wed 26-Feb-20 19:13:31

I did work in a secular school that had a JW on the senior team. Science was taught just fine and as it should have been.

eeyore228 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:14:24

You've sent her to a religious school, it's down to them how much religion is encouraged or not. If it makes you that uncomfortable look for another school. I would (as an atheist) expect more religion in a CofE school than a general mainstream school and make a decision based on whether I want that. The school may not be as strict as others, perhaps they see themselves as more lax?

Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:15:13

My daughter didn’t take the place of a child who follows the faith because as part of admission, places are given to those who are practicing Christians over non practicing and on her application we put we didn’t attend church and we still got it as our first choice. Her school was heavily undersubscribed due to it being a low birth year and instead of the 20 max in her year it is 14.
Looking back I suspect he told us what he knew we wanted to hear in order for us to send her there and for him to get funding.
I get it but being straight up, I’d rather he told me how it really was rather than not. Especially when I asked him outright.

I appreciate it’s probably coming across as I have an issue with it all. I don’t particularly but as an atheist I want to make sure that she has the opportunity to form her own opinion during her school years rather than it being jammed down her throat.

Can we please stop saying “good Christian values” as it makes it sound like you don’t have good values without Christianity.

Again, I’m not fretting. I’m just interested to know how other atheists deal with having their children at C of E schools and as for the JW teacher, I can’t tell you her reasonings for being there.

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Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:19:58

Wow, some people are so rude.
It wasn’t a gossip. I saw the lady and waved to say hello as I recognised her from the school. She didn’t appear to be be totally enthused in response so I asked the person I was with and she said she’s a JW. I don’t know anything about JWs and the differences so I asked my religious friend who’s also a mother at the school and she told me.
I also didn’t say she wouldn’t deliver the school curriculum.
I know she has to. I pondered how someone that is clearly that religious could deliver the Big Bang theory etc etc without having a taint on it because of her beliefs.

Like I said at the beginning, this isn’t an attack on any belief and again, I’m trying to find out how other atheists find c of e schools.
Not to be told I’m gossiping, I’ve got my facts wrong and so on.

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Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:20:23

Thank you. That’s the sort of info I wanted to know.

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Saucery Wed 26-Feb-20 19:21:40

Believe me, she won’t be there to usurp the Church Of England in any way smile
Why don’t you ask the class teacher about the ashes? You’re atheist, they know that, your dd is small and maybe can’t explain the context (which is perfectly understandable). So, just ask them if the vicar came in, what message was given (it’s usually along the lines of ‘be more like Jesus’) and see what they say.

Saucery Wed 26-Feb-20 19:24:08

So you have a friend from the school parents who is religious - fab, ask her! Sorted smile
No need for all the fretting about dark ashy practices and JWs refusing to teach the science curriculum.
You’re acting like you like in Summerisle hmm

strawberrylipgloss Wed 26-Feb-20 19:28:18

I'm an atheist and my kids went to a community school (non-faith) . They would come home in Reception and year 1 saying that they wanted to be Christian like their teacher because they liked their teacher. By end of y1/2 they understood that their teacher was a Christian and that's fine. I am an atheist and that's fine. Their friend is a Hindu and that's fine etc By the time that they were y3/4 they had decided their view on faith (one is agnostic and the other is atheist) and apart from times like their friend fasting for Ramadan in secondary, we don't really discuss religion,

My personal opinion is that RE shouldn't be on the National Curriculum until at least y3. (The Nativity is the exception as I think this should be common knowledge for most children living in Britain regardless of faith) RE is far too complicated and quite pointless for very young children imo and it's a shame that RE in primary does not have the philosophy angle that some secondary school RE lessons have.

Yeulisloveofmylife Wed 26-Feb-20 19:32:19

I think any English school has somewhat religious things going on. I am not a active atheist, but I don't have particular religion. And I have attended religious schools as a child.
When My dc was 4 and came home saying "god made the world", I was worried. But as she aged, she understood the religion better, and that's a belief some people believe, not a fact. But at the same time, we enjoyed things like Christmas play.
Don't worry too much. As they get older, they will start to understand religions. They will start to understand when teacher say "some people believe...", that you don't need to believe it.
I have attended both buddist and christian schools. I am not either of them since my parents weren't, but as an adult, I actually think it was a great experience.

SJaneS48 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:32:37

We’re both atheists and our DDs Primary was CofE with a very religious Headteacher. Essentially as above, they will be teaching as per the curriculum. There was more involvement with the local church than I would have liked but quite honestly, no ‘harm’ done and DD has emerged a happy little atheist! Tbh, that’s her choice though, she asked our opinions and we gave them and talked through why we believed what we believed. However, if she wanted to be a Christian then quite frankly we wouldn’t have stopped her. My eldest DD attended Church for awhile when she was a teen and fair enough - they aren’t us and if they want to explore a faith (as long as it’s not something like Satanism obviously!) who are we to say they shouldn’t? They are independent beings.

Personally I went to a very religious Convent Boarding School - years of all that bollocks made me the good atheist I am! Exposure makes you think critically and that’s got to be good right?

scissy Wed 26-Feb-20 19:33:02

My DFather was a young earth creationist and a secondary physics teacher. He still managed to teach the Big Bang etc to all his classes without a single complaint in his whole career, a good teacher is perfectly capable of teaching the curriculum as specified (even if they don't believe it themselves).

CuckooCuckooClock Wed 26-Feb-20 19:34:54

My dc go to a village c of e school. Our nearest non-church school is a 40 min drive away. At first it was like living with lay preachers - ds would come home telling me that Jesus is our saviour.
They grow out of all the nonsense pretty quickly and we’ve always told them that it’s just stories that some people believe but we don’t.
Annoying but no biggie.
I wouldn’t worry about the Big Bang theory. I doubt they’ll be covering it anytime soon.

Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:34:54

I don’t know what summer isle is and you’ve taken this topic way off course.

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Lordfrontpaw Wed 26-Feb-20 19:35:25

The ash thing - I suppose she didn’t want to miss out on the fun (pancakes). She will be fine.

Now - I’d be more concerned about the fact that the new RSA lessons coming in this year There is no right to withdraw from Relationships Education at primary or secondary. At least you can withdraw your child from religious services.

Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:36:03

Thank you. It’s nice to hear from someone with the stand point who’s actually read what I was asking for.

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Starbuck8419 Wed 26-Feb-20 19:36:59

Oh brilliant 😊 yes I must admit we loved the nativity. She had such a great time singing al the songs lol

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