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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?

TimeWasting Mon 07-Mar-11 12:02:30

betty, if you think 'screw you' in response to an unprovoked personal attack is a 'vile insult' then I'm not sure you're on the same planet, so, basically, whatever.
I can't see anything in your posts that directly answers my question, so why not answer it? I do genuinely want to know your answer.

pinkcushion Mon 07-Mar-11 12:37:40

Bettyboop - I'm a bit confused by your suggestion that the term let us pray "leaves it open for wether you believe or not or perhaps have a different god"

How does an atheist pray - we don't do god, we don't do praying and we don't do worship?
When a teacher says to a 5 year old - "Let us pray" The 5 year old interprets that request as some thing that must be done, at least mine did - not a "pray if you want to but never mind if you don't" - it's a direct request and like most things in school should be obeyed.

An act of collective worship has no place in schools - and there is no good reason for it to be continued.

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 12:46:50

ty GoldenBeagle exactly what i was trying to convey since commenting on this thread including being pc and incorporating other faiths but no real religious content as i said all the schools ive been involved with unless are actually a religious school dont preach at all, the only answer is as someone on a post earlier is if your concerned ask in advance to see an assembley or ask the HT outright what a typical assembly consists of or ask they dont partake ..this will also be as your Dc's get to seconadary school another concern RE which they are now changing the name of but content is still the same to Life Skills, although this covers other areas also and sex education

sparkle12mar08 Mon 07-Mar-11 12:56:32

Only just noticed the weird punctuated 'Vihiguru' in my previous post. Apologies.

TimeWasting Mon 07-Mar-11 12:58:37

Why not just scrap it altogether though Betty?

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 13:04:42

ive answered already in previous posts timewasting and pink i was using let us pray as example of one of the other ways SOME schools say it they ALL do different i think some of you have had bad exp of assemblies some schools do fantastic assemblies with inclusion in mind others appauling ones, unfortunately you may not believe in god doesnt mean yr DC's cant be exposed to it and decide for themselves as i also have already said id be more bothered about RE going under the guise in secondary as life skills and including sex education which when i was at school consisted of the biology of it in a text book/ drawn on a blackboard now days do you realise this consists of them being given Dildo's and a condom to put on it in yr 9 (13) i know we have to learn but that wasnt told to us in advance that it was that explicit

haggisaggis Mon 07-Mar-11 13:09:21

In Scotland it is certainly assumed that the "collectve worship" will be Christian as it is still a Christian country. Our school - a normal state primary - has a minister who comes in about once a month and holds a very definitely Christian act of worship. They also sometimes have people in from a local Chistian centre who do quizzes and sing Cristian songs. My dc are withdrawn forom tehse assemblies (which are usually about once a month) but attend the others which are led by the head teacher and are more teh kind of thing mrz mentions.
One thing that does annoy me though is that music lessons in this school seem to be practising singing hymns for the assmblies...

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 13:16:30

well i agree with that hagis if they are OTT about religion and you dont agree with it, it thats your right to withdraw yr DC'S, but i do think its wrong they only practice hymns in music for assemblies at my DC's old school if you wanted to sing hymns you joined the choir, music was a mixture of classic and pop and i think should be how boring otherwise

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Mar-11 13:36:32

DDs school used to have lovely non-religious class assemblies ... up to the last 5 minutes where there was always a prayer and a hymn tacked on. The hymn very often was one taking the existence of a Creator God as fact. While this may wash over a lot of kids it does set belief in God as the default 'approved' state of mind. The mildness and sugar-coatedness makes it particularly insidious.

The fact that many schools - probably most non-faith secondaries - do try to avoid assemblies being 'christian worship' shows that this law is an ass and its high time it was repealed.

pinkcushion Mon 07-Mar-11 13:36:43

But my dcs are only being shown how to worship the Christian God - if your intention is to provide a taster why not do the job properly - choose a different God to worship everyday - give them a real choice!

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 14:09:47

this is what i am saying im nota believer but i do think there is plenty of room to do a rota of all faiths in assemblies and my Dc's schools have all done this bar the ecumenical primary we had to take my ds to but some of the posters on here think we shouldnt have worship or any kind, and yes they are entitled to think so but to say scrap it just because you personally think its out dated is just that your personal opinion whilst a majority enjoy the assemblies there are as weve said very few options choose a different school,and or ask about the assemblies in advance, abstain from assemblies, or tell yr DC's in your PO you do not believe in a god and ask them to not close eyes just bow head in silent contemplation of eg people in africa, new zealand ect,,, personally im as i said more bothered at the intolerance of people having a different opinion and what goes on in RE /life skills esp when comes to sex education i totally agree with sex education and was infromed they would be covering it but not told in what way so when my daughter 13 comes home and giggles and tells me what they did today with a condom n pink dildo i wasnt particularly happy either

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Mar-11 14:19:46

Betty, the problem is that it wouldn't be so bad if school assemblies did cover all faiths and none, but a lot don't - in primary anyway they do tend to stick to christianity. You've evidently been luckier than some in how your DCs schools interpreted this law.

'choosing a different school' is a bit hard in practice for most people - if you've already chosen a non-faith school it really shouldn't be necessary. Most parents also find the option of withdrawing their kids from assemblies unacceptable - the non-worship aspects of assemblies are a good thing, part of building the school community, and most kids would hate to be made to feel different.

Teach children about worship by all means - but there is no reason why a state school should be teaching kids to do it, any more than sex ed lessons should involve snogging.

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 14:28:18

i totally agree with you id never condone withdrawing from assemblies i think they are totallly necessary for enriching DC exp , socially warrented and for the community spririt within the school but as its law atm its the only options available , i did also say i had no option myself at one point of sending my DS to the only school who had room which was an ecumenical school wasnt exactly pleased myself as a non believer BUT they did promote a much kinder more tolerant ethos which i did like and that he had not received at other MS state schools before

GoldenBeagle Mon 07-Mar-11 14:41:00

Scotland is not a 'Christian Country'. Being Christian is not part of the constitution and it is run by elected politicians not the church.
It may be largely Christian by culture, habit and many citizens, but that's different. We live in a society where all people should be treated equally, of any religion and none. The government should not be imposing Christian worship in state schools.

Nobody says 'let us pray' in the DCs school, afaik, thank god. wink

missmehalia Mon 07-Mar-11 14:53:50

There are lots of people who support the complete separation of church and state, and when you consider it's legally obligatory to make all children participate in collective worship at the moment, you can see we have a long way to go.

It's not appropriate to have the choice of either excluding your child from the only gathering of the whole school or them being forced to participate in a potentially indoctrinating activity.

I've always thought it disgusting, frankly, it's tantamount to brainwashing in some church schools (we live rurally, and our nearest 3 primaries are all church sponsored.) We give our DD external perspectives to make up for it. But we shouldn't have to.

Religious education, yes, all for it (part of global community, etc). Having a morally upstanding, encouraging, positive school with firm belief in positive values, yes. But teaching children whether or not God/a God exists is their decision alone, it is wrong to make them pray or exclude them.

TimeWasting Mon 07-Mar-11 16:08:08

It is possible to get laws changed you know betty.

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 17:17:44

yes if the majority belive in the change which they dont unfortunately i think its not a good thing if they ram it down the childrens throat perhaps where i live the LA have a different view compared to wherever some of you are living as ive found all the schools ive been involved with quite non religious esp when some of you have discribed rather over zealous assemblies , but the assemblies ive experienced have always been upliftin , included all faiths and been handled in a very generalised manner so as far as im concerned its a case of if it aint broke but from what ive seen it seems completely outragious of anyone to claim (unless their child goes to a specific religion school)and unfounded to imply anyone is brainwashing anyone in fact i more think that of the atheists , trying to influence (or brainwash as some put it) their children that a god doesnt exist... i still as i said earlier think a lot of people do not give their own children credit for having common sense and brains, as like all the other things in life we need to let them decide for themselves a lot of people if you hadnt noticed go to for eg: catholic schools and are quite the opposite as adults they dont all become priests or go knocking door to door , and vice versa some people become religious as adults who never heard a sermon before in their life find god.... there are far more important Laws that need changing or reviewing imho

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Mar-11 18:05:23

>yes if the majority belive in the change which they dont unfortunately

Is that true though? Whenever this issue comes up on MN, it seems that the overwhelming majority would rather not have worship in non-faith schools. Its just not something that politicians ever pick up on - its not exactly the sort of issue that decides whether you would vote for a party or not. But just because its not the most important issue doesn't mean it shouldn't be fixed.

As to brainwashing - IME atheist parents tend to be pretty scrupulous about using the 'some people believe' line. Some religious parents are, many aren't - but parents are parents and have different rights and responsibilities to educators. And atheists don't go into schools peddling their views. There have unfortunately been quite a few threads about small children who've come home adamant on some religious position or frightened by what someone has said in assembly.

mrz Mon 07-Mar-11 18:17:46

but does that reflect the views of the wider population GrimmaTheNome? I don't know the answer all I know is in the school where I teach most parents don't seem to care as long as there are a Nativity and Carols at Christmas and a Harvest Festival but we probably aren't typical because no parents object to collective worship.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Mar-11 18:36:50

I don't know either, Mrz! I never objected to the assemblies at school, DDs school, except once we sent a letter pointing out the inappropriateness of 'Who put the colours in the rainbow' in the context of a particular class assembly. You simply don't make a fuss when your child has put effort into a class assembly or nativity, do you? But that doesn't mean everyone prefers the status quo.

mrz Mon 07-Mar-11 18:47:59

I think it is more a case of majority apathy and minority voices of opposing opinions

bettyboop63 Mon 07-Mar-11 19:49:04

ahh your probably correct there mrz i really dont think majority are bothered as long as their DC's are learning and florishing and are happy if therefore anyone feels something thats been said or done in an assembly they should complain, i too mrz only know the schools ive visited and all the parents and with 3 DCs ive come to know at preschool first two middle schools and a secondary school no one has ever complained or come out of an assembly moaning they have come out bored sometimes yawning lol and come out happy at seeing their DC singing or reading alloud or taking part but never have any of them said they didnt like the content & or religious slant on the assembly, because there usually isnt one its very non discript other than as you say when in reception they did the nativity since then they have never had a religious assembly even at the religious school my ds went to (the only one to fit him in) at harvest festival the children did a rendition of fields of barley and talked of the starving africans and elderly who thay collected the food for i had a tear in my eye after the song it was very beautiful

RustyBear Mon 07-Mar-11 19:58:25

I was shocked on opening this thread to see that it is too old to contain the now statutory warning, so I felt I should add it here:


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