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Collective worship in primary school. What is it exactly?

(123 Posts)
Dragonbutter Sat 28-Jun-08 22:53:27

I'm looking at primary schools for DS1 who will start september 2009.
I've specifically chosen non-faith schools but have found that two out of the three schools i've looked at mention 'collective worship' on their websites.

I am humanist/atheist and I don't have a problem with him learning about different religions but the term 'worship' is worrying me.

So what is it exactly?
Do all schools do it?

FoodieLexie Fri 04-Jul-08 15:43:58

Dragonbutter, I'm SOOO glad you posted this - we are in exactly the same situation. And have you noticed just how many chairs of governors are clergymen (and always clergy MEN for some reason)?

General question - does anyone have any tips on raising a child to be healthily sceptical about religion without turning them into mini-Hitlers? (who seems to be the only atheist many religious people have ever heard of).

Dragonbutter Sat 05-Jul-08 20:38:41

Yipee, this thread made it to the morningpaper's talk round-up. grin

I am quite shocked at the discovery that prayers could be part of my childs schooling. I actually believed there would be 'religious education' as a school topic but that there would be no religious bias to the actual schooling. I don't know where i got this assumption from, i just presumed it to be the case.

another annoying thing is that for the last four years i've been avoiding baby & toddler groups run by the church or songs & stories which included a bible story and some hymns and been fairly choosey about which groups we attend. What was the point if they get all that stuff at school anyway?


ReallyTired Sat 05-Jul-08 21:59:22

I would ask to sit on the assembly of the schools you are interested in.

The school (special school) I work at has a brilliant assembly. They sing pop songs and have themes like healthy eating, fair trade and celebrating children's achievemnts.

The (community primary) school I worked in previously had an evangelical christian head and their assembly was like attending an evangelical church.

The law states that schools must have a collective act of worthship. Its down to the indvidual school how they interpret it. Any way you can choose to withdraw your child from assembly or RE lessons.

KatyBeau Thu 03-Mar-11 23:03:05

I've just read that collective worship, at least partly of a Cheistian nature, is the law. I went to a CofE primary school, Sunday school etc. Loved the hymns and bible stories. It took me until my teens to realise I didn't believe in god. Until that point I hadn't really thought about it much. So I don't know how much of it kids take on board.

I truly value the ethical, moral lessons I got from Christianity and still stand by the vast majority of it, and will have no problem reading most bible stories with my lite girl when she's older. However, I'd also like to read her fables and stories from any other tradition too.

What I'm not comfortable with is prayer and teaching about god. To me there's no way to brush over it. Kids believe what they are told. So why should schools push a set of beliefs on them when the parents don't want it?

But when she gets to school age, do I feel strongly enough to take her out of the prayer bits of assemblies? Probably not. I wouldn't want her to miss out or feel different, which would be much worse. I just wish we weren't forced into it.

I suppose it's the same as people getting married in church or having their kids christened when they aren't really religious - just because that's what you do.

I personally think that it's all a bit disrespectful to those that do believe as it devalues their beliefs somehow.

TimeWasting Fri 04-Mar-11 07:55:58

Another plus in the Home Education column.

lechatnoir Fri 04-Mar-11 14:53:22

My DS only started school in September and already seems to know most of the major bible stories, how to pray, sing various hymns and refuses to accept that the bible is just a story - "No mummy Jesus is IS real Miss X said so" . Particularly irritating as we passed up a place at a very good CofE school purely because it was a religious school, and to make matters worse he and doesn't seem to have the first idea what I'm talking about when I mention other religions or major festivals like Rosh Hashanah or Diwali.
Will be discussing with his teacher at parents evening next week so be interesting to hear what he has to say as I think it is her personal belief rather than a specific school directive that leans so heavily towards Christianity.

harvalp Fri 04-Mar-11 15:10:06

Think of it like Father Christmas. You wouldn't want your DCs to think that he doesn't exist yet would you?

So a couple of nice carols and hymns, a prayer and a nativity play won't do the DC any harm and may help him to form the basis for a moral outlook. You can point out, if he hasn't decided himself by the time he's 12 or so, that it's really all a load of old cobblers and needs to be treated in the same way as Father Christmas.

TimeWasting Fri 04-Mar-11 17:28:45

But harvalp, all adults know that FC isn't real, plenty of adults do believe in Jesus et al, so it's quite a different matter.

harvalp Fri 04-Mar-11 19:14:06

I'm assuming the family is more intelligent and has risen above primitive superstition.

bettyboop63 Fri 04-Mar-11 19:21:45

omgg you crack me up all you have to worry about is something as petty as this?!! well WTG ,they are not brain washing exercises you know and every single school is different,i have had exp of a non religious school and a Ecumenical primary and they are not that different the basic premise is to teach love , understanding and honor, and teach that children they are all special, im not an athiest or religious im a mum, my childs happiness whilst in this environments my top priority it should hardly be ones most relevant consideration when deciding your DS/DD future

TimeWasting Fri 04-Mar-11 19:28:15

You may think it's petty, but my child being required by law to pray to a god I don't believe in is a consideration in my DS future.

bettyboop63 Fri 04-Mar-11 19:38:57

im sorry it IS petty goodness does everyone have nothing more serious to worry about get a grip at all the schools ive been involved in they have discussed in assembley each religions god and didnt say prayers to god at all they closed eyes and the head said things like let us all love each other and do our best to be kind yada yada yada so i find as we live in a cristian country all of you complaining offensive when there are disabled children and parents and carers struggling to survive in MS school and get what they should have by law ect ect makes peoples complaints of this nature VERY petty indeed if you dont like it dont send them there ..simple..

TimeWasting Fri 04-Mar-11 20:47:39

So if it's not as life-altering as the struggles that carers have it's not worthy of discussion?

UnSerpentQuiCourt Fri 04-Mar-11 21:47:15

All schools must by law have an act of collective worship every day; however, it can be done in such a way as to respect all beliefs. In my CofE primary, we are all careful to say, 'Christians believe that ....' rather than state beliefs as fact. In CW, the children are invited to pray or just to close their eyes and be quiet. Different, though, when the vicar comes in once a week.

I'm afraid there will be many worse things that your child will experience at school; many attitudes and opinions with which you cannot agree. I think that it is part of your child beginning to make his own way in the world and be exposed to a range of ideas and influences.

pinkcushion Fri 04-Mar-11 22:10:54

Deal with that sickly sweet All things Bright and beautiful rubbish by promoting the Monty Python version All Things Dull and Ugly - have google if nothing else you'll have a giggle. Personally I can't stand the original song and I banned it completely within my hearing range.

Promotion of the Christian religion really confused my children in Reception and Year 1 by Year 2 they gained the confidence to be able to say I don't believe in God - tbh how a primary child can rationally believe or not believe in God is beyond me - they believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy - it's a pile of rubbish!!!

I don't believe in enforced collective worship in schools, but they'll get over it and after the initial confusion due to their age, they'll learn to defend their own beliefs.

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 09:23:44

how silly people are all im saying is there are far far more important things about your own DC through school through life you will have to worry about this is a non-sensicle debate schools generally have collective worship you either send them to the school or you dont home ed if your that worried what "influence" or brain washing as you obviously see it has or your DC or accept it and move on and i dont think unless youve walked a mile in someones shoes you should comment ie about carers/ children with sen and physical difficulties obviously you will have to avoid the religious schools but as we are a christian country it will be difficult to find a school that has nil reference to it and as pink says as children become adults they grow and decide for themselves isnt that what good parentings about bringing your children up to make their own informed choices ?!!

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 09:45:08

Accept it or move on? Is that the sort of attitude they promote in school?

sofaaddict Sat 05-Mar-11 10:09:54

All schools have to provide an act of daily collective worship, but that really does vary school to school. The school I currently work in includes celebrating children's achievements, listening to stories read by teachers, singing (mainly secular) songs, raising moral and social issues, listening to inspirational stories etc. all in this, and I think that all of that is very important for all children. Schools are not only required to have daily collective worship, but also that it should be of 'broadly Christian character'. (Take that up with the govenment if you wish!) In our school every significant religious event is 'celebrated', in as much as the children will learn that it is 'X' today, this is a festival of 'X' religion and they might celebrate by doing 'x'. As a teacher I have always been told to teach religions by saying 'Christians believe that...' or 'Hindus believe that..' rather than just saying it as fact, which I do, even though I am a Christian myself. We also include 'relflective' time in collective worship, which may be a prayer, a famous quote, or just time for the children to think about the story. Our collective worship times are well planned, and clearly thought out to try and enhance the child's whole being, in line with the previous mantra of 'Every Child Matters'. I ask to speak to your chosen schools Collective Worship co-ordinator and ask what is in place/planned already.
Hth, sorry if any typos, in a rush. grin

grovel Sat 05-Mar-11 10:44:10

I am not a believer but I'm glad my DS got a basic grounding in the Bible etc. So much of our Christian heritage informs our history, language, architecture, literature and music. If Arsenal vs Scunthorpe is described as a "David and Goliath clash" my DS gets the reference. He knows the background to the Messiah etc etc.
He chose not to be confirmed so I guess he's not been brainwashed.

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 11:02:09

some things just ARE fact and your not going to change the way schools have been teaching since the victorins begain it simply because the majority are happy with that , i made a lot of relevant points and the only thing you pick up on is one phrase and ignore the rest just because its not what you want to hear? we all through life have things we do and dont really like your not protecting your child by being so anti your trying to influence her thinking let yr DC decide for his or her self as i say thats good parenting and letting your child make decisions is all part of them growing up you have to face it you cant protect them from everything and just because you yourself dont believe (which i dont myself as i said earlier) doesnt mean it will do them any harm to listen and as i said make informed dicisions later in life you have to learn to trust your own child is inteligent enough... and on a lighter note since when did you ever see the children really listen in assembly anyway they sit glassy eyed most of them n only join in when it is time to sing. you must keep things in perspective or as they grow older you will never cope with the really BIG important life changing decissions as you put it

mrz Sat 05-Mar-11 11:10:46

the point is it has changed since Victorian times. In many schools the act of collective worship involves a morning assembly that has no hymns or bible readings and prayers are a moment of silent reflection in others it might be "thank you for my family friends and a new bike shed" Amen

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 11:25:58

yes bt the Op i dont think believes this ive said just that you wont find a school with nil ref to god or other religions most unless a religious schools so as not to offend still do a generalised prayer of keep us safe let us be kind do our best ect as i said to her earlier they are not brain washing exercises , some schools still pray to god but usually ive found its just one parayer the lords prayer but most now just generally pray as were so multi-cultured but she still even after many people have said this thiks we should not pray at all because shes athiest confused i dont believe there is such a school if your this adament you will have to ask for them not to be in assemblys which is a shame as they are not for the perpose of religion they are for community spiritness thus she will be segregating her own dc if you read my other posts you will see where im comming from i just basically think its a big hullabaloo over nothing even when my DS went to a christian ecumenical school they didnt bag on about god they also talked in assembly about other peoples religions and celebrated them too hardly brainwashing as she seems to think it is, imho all schools want to do is bring about a community feel to the children so they feel a part of it and teach love and tolerance maybe the OP needs to go back and learn some tolerance herself sorry but it offends me even though im not religious myself

Dukeleto Sat 05-Mar-11 11:28:58

I think it's ridiculous that parents have to actually withdraw their children from "collective worship" why not just leave it up to the childrens individual conscience? There's no need to enforce the "motions" of prayer, not everyone prays the same way in any case. The kids should not be forced to take part, beyond maintaining a respectful silence, just like I do when I have to go to church confused

bettyboop63 Sat 05-Mar-11 11:35:32

i totally agree Dukeleto thats exactly me thoughts lol you say it much more susinctly

TimeWasting Sat 05-Mar-11 12:02:06

I'm not the OP by the way.

When I go into a church I maintain a respectful silence too.
But that is the sort of place where I expect collective worship to take place. 'Worship' is quite different to religious education which I totally approve of in schools.

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