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Has anyone withdrawn a secondary age child from religious education?

(52 Posts)
Sadik Fri 01-Jul-16 22:27:10

DD is yr 9, going into yr 10. She's very interested and engaged in questions of philosophy, ethics etc, and has always had good reports/results in RS.

But, both this year and last, one of her fortnightly RS lessons has been taught by a vicar who doubles as a part time teacher to help out because of staff shortages (he became a vicar after retiring from teaching). DD has found it very frustrating, in that essentially he uses the RS lesson as a vehicle for Christian teaching.

They're now going into year 10, have just started their GCSE timetable for the last weeks of term, and she's found out that they'll have him as their only RS teacher now for the next two years.

She's considering asking us to request her withdrawal from RS - just wondering if any others have done this, and if there are any drawbacks I haven't thought of. (FWIW her set are going to do the full course GCSE within their compulsory RS lesson times, so she would lose one GCSE, but they have plenty, and written subjects aren't a particularly strong point for her.)

MaddyHatter Fri 01-Jul-16 22:30:44

i think your first port of call should be to speak to the HT about the nature of the lessons. Its supposed to be about the different faiths, not an opportunity for indoctrination.. and i would also make it clear that if he can't follow the curriculum, and keep his faith to himself, you will be withdrawing her.

Its been a few years since i did my RS GCSE (um 19, ouch, lol) but i recall it being quite diverse about the different religions, and i then went on to take it at A Level because i enjoyed it so much.

timelytess Fri 01-Jul-16 22:33:18

Drawback - she gets to sit alone in someone's office or the dining hall whilst the lessons are going on. Or worse, she still has to attend lessons but takes other work. Or they insist on your removing her from the premises for the duration of the lesson.

He shouldn't be using the RE lesson for Christian teaching. Which board and which module? Many allow for multifaith teaching.

timelytess Fri 01-Jul-16 22:34:51

Head of Year, Head of House, pastoral lead rather than directly to the headteacher, if you take that line.

Sadik Fri 01-Jul-16 22:35:09

I think school are probably aware of the problem (he's apparently told the DC he's had complaints, but that his lessons are fine because everyone get's good exam results . . . ) and I think he is probably a last-ditch timetable-filler to be absolutely honest, he's retired at least twice before to my knowledge.

The sad thing is that dd has really enjoyed the lessons this year with her other teacher, and learning more about different religions.

Sadik Fri 01-Jul-16 22:37:01

Hmm, removing from the premises would be awkward. Otherwise sitting somewhere in an office getting on with homework would suit her just fine.

Sadik Fri 01-Jul-16 22:38:18

timelytess, it'll be the WJEC I presume, welsh language curriculum if that makes any difference (I assume not?)

MaddyHatter Fri 01-Jul-16 22:40:01

i dont think this is a HoY issue, its not the HoY that employs the teacher, or who will approve an application to remove from the lesson.

LifeHuh Fri 01-Jul-16 22:40:20

If they are getting good grades he must be covering the syllabus,surely? And that'd mean more than just Christianity? Might he now be constrained by the syllabus but been free in Yr 9 to do what he wanted?
Sorry - too many question marks.

Sadik Fri 01-Jul-16 22:47:17

LifeHuh, I think the issue to date has mainly been presenting Christianity as true, and other religions as 'what some people believe' in a fairly forceful way. I've talked to dd, and she's going to at least give it a while into next term & lessons proper (if nothing else, they may yet end up with another teacher if they manage to recruit).

Pico2 Fri 01-Jul-16 22:47:21

I don't think there is any reason for them to ask you to remove her from the premises. I suppose the risk for the school is that other children notice that your DD has been allowed not to take RS and they get an exodus and end up having to work out what to do with up to 30 year 10s who have been excused from RS and also missing out on those GCSEs for league tables. But given than it is your right to remove her from the lessons, that is tough.

Getting homework done instead of indoctrination seems like a good idea.

If you are looking for support then the British Humanist Association is good for this sort of thing.

Sadik Sat 02-Jul-16 13:35:11

The possibility of triggering an exodus had occurred to me! I'm not sure that it would affect their league tables that much though, I thought it was all about core subjects these days confused

catslife Sat 02-Jul-16 15:11:08

dd has completed the full course GCSE RS. There were 2 papers: the first has to either be Christianity or Catholic Christianity and studies what Christians believe. Pupils are expected in the exam to be able to state what Christians believe not discuss whether they think it is true or not iyswim.
The second paper was another religion at dds school they studied Islam and so they find out what muslims believe. There are other possible world religions that can be studied and this is decided by the school.
The curriculum for new Y10s may be slightly different though as this will be the new 9-1 GCSE.
Withdrawal from lessons may be possible but this isn't usually done just because you don't like a teacher.
The only circumstance that I could see where it may be very difficult to withdraw is if your dd is at a faith school.
How many hours a week do they spend on this subject? dd had approx 2 hours a week and it wasn't a particularly heavy subject homework wise though.

timelytess Sat 02-Jul-16 16:31:26

I don't think there is any reason for them to ask you to remove her from the premises.
Depends how awkward they want to be. Unless the rules have changed since 14 February 2014 (and they might have, everything else has changed) the school is entitled to ask you to remove the child from the premises if you withdraw from religious education.

PotteringAlong Sat 02-Jul-16 16:39:23

At the school I work at the policy is that pupils withdrawn from religious education lessons must be supervised for that period by a parent / carer.

Toofondofcake Sat 02-Jul-16 16:40:19

If you withdraw her she won't get the GCSE and she will probably not have an interesting option to replace it with as timetabling probably won't be able to facilitate.
Also she will be learning that if she doesn't like the way something is she can just quit it.

You should both speak to the HT/head of humanities and the teacher himself. As a vicar I am sure that if you remind him that educating children about religious liberty and different faiths is essential he will realise he has been too one sided.
Do your daughters classmates feel he is too one sided also?

PotteringAlong Sat 02-Jul-16 16:40:46

catslife it depends what GCSE they do - the GCSE my pupils did involved looking at moral issues for both papers. There is no "had to" study Christianity.

catslife Sat 02-Jul-16 17:27:24

Agree pottering that different courses vary so the OP needs to check which one her dd will be doing. Unfortunately pupils don'r get to choose which exam board/syllabus they will be studying - that's decided by the school/teachers.
My statement was true for the particular syllabus my dd studied which was Edexcel. If the OP/OPs dd wouldn't be happy about that type of course then they need to obtain more details.

Sadik Sat 02-Jul-16 17:33:20

"Do your daughters classmates feel he is too one sided also?" Yes, fairly unanimously I think.

I've seen dd's homework from the sessions she had with him on the Yr 9 timetable, and I don't think she was being unreasonable in her objections. However, the flip side of that is that it did make her do more research / read round the subject more in order to explain in her essay answers why - for example - she disagreed with the question wording. Also, as others have said, it may be different in the more structured GCSE curriculum.

Toofondofcake - I think it's rather different withdrawing from a lesson because you have an ethical objection to the way it is being taught. The school let those with objections sit out from dissection classes in biology, for example, and I think that's right. Teenagers are just getting their heads round all this stuff, and often feel very passionate about it.

They're studying Christianity and Hinduism as their two religions - dd's example from the last lesson was that they spent 55 minutes going through the attitudes of different Christian sects to abortion, then in the last 5 minutes the teacher basically said 'some Hindus accept abortion, some don't'.

Potteringalong - is your school secondary or primary?

Sadik Sat 02-Jul-16 17:35:27

There won't be any option on exam board, I'm 95% certain only WJEC offer Welsh medium?
Ironically, the WA has been discussing replacing compulsory RS with Philosophy and Ethics, they just haven't got there yet.

apple1992 Sat 02-Jul-16 17:46:42

I think putting your concerns to the school in the first instance, not directly to HT (unless it is a very small school, the HT will simply pass this down, or you won't even be able to speak with them). It'd be the teacher's line manager. The receptionist should know who to contact you.

If it is a teaching issue rather than s mora issue, it seems unreasonable to withdraw her. I work in a school and I've not known a child be withdrawn from a certain subject (unless decided by school due to behaviour) so I don't know how it would work - interesting that some would make you supervise her! I don't think the school would allow it easily if at all.

Pico2 Sat 02-Jul-16 19:20:03

Given that children can walk home from school unsupervised at secondary level, I can't see why you'd have to go in to supervise a child who was not going to RS.

apple1992 Sat 02-Jul-16 19:27:10

Pico, I guess it is more in principle/to prevent tons of parents withdrawing their kids. Not as simple as just leaving them to their own devices either.

catslife Sat 02-Jul-16 20:24:38

They're studying Christianity and Hinduism as their two religions - dd's example from the last lesson was that they spent 55 minutes going through the attitudes of different Christian sects to abortion, then in the last 5 minutes the teacher basically said 'some Hindus accept abortion, some don't'.
That's poor teaching imo. Having recently gone through RS exam papers with dd you need to be able to say what each religion thinks about the issue and give a reason why (there are equal marks for each). It could be that the teacher is biased or it could be that he isn't covering the material properly.

bojorojo Sat 02-Jul-16 22:12:34

How good, exactly, are this teachers exam results? Are the bright children getting A or A* in large numbers? Is it a hugely successful subject? Or are the results really just ok? Take it up with the Head of Department/Faculty or whatever they are called at your school and discuss the problem. Ask to go through the syllabus and ask what the school does to ensure the correct emphasis is put on teaching all the syllabus and not just a one sided view.

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