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Has anyone completely withdrawn their DC from RE at primary school? Experiences pls...

111 replies

MegBusset · 04/05/2008 18:42

it's a long way off for us to start worrying about it but just wondering what people's experiences were. We will definitely withdraw DS from the 'act of worship' bit when he goes to school (will definitely be a community school, we are atheists and don't believe religion should have a place in schools unless in a strictly historical sense).

Undecided, however, about whether to keep him out of RE part of the curriculum as well, and interested in the experiences of people who have done this, or considered doing it but then decided not to. Do you feel your DC missed out? What did they do instead? Did they still get to take part in debates about moral issues?

Don't want this to turn into a debate about whether religion should have a place in schools, it's been done to death and you won't change my mind on that one!

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Blu · 04/05/2008 18:56

I do not think that practicing religion has a place in schools - and am an atheirst - but cannot for the life of me think why i should remove DS from learning about the beliefs that other poeple have - and which have shaped so much of our literature, architecture, and secular habits And i don't just mean Christianity - other highly influential religions, too.

I can't imagine teling him that factual info about anything was something i didn't want him to learn. Prevent him from learning about beliefs, traditions, and the philosophy that accompanies all religion whether or not you believe the 'divine' or faith bit? No more would i pull him out of sex ed, for e.g.

KaSo · 04/05/2008 18:57

I hate maths. I don't believe in it at all, maybe I should withdraw my child from maths lessons?

morningpaper · 04/05/2008 18:58

I haev to agree with Blu and am curious what you reasons are as to why you don't want him learning about religion

Pablop · 04/05/2008 19:01

Don't think you can pick and choose which lessons your children have.

MrsMattie · 04/05/2008 19:02

Agree with Blu

nell12 · 04/05/2008 19:05

Debates and moral issues are part and parcel of RE. They are also covered to some extent in PSHE.

Your child will probably miss out on more than just RE; what about everything that goes part and parcel in most schools with Christmas or Easter? Nativity plays, Easter cards, Easter cooking (generally done in Maths lessons)

IME as a teacher, the children who have been withdrawn from RE end up sitting in a corridoor or the library (with minimal supervision or support) completing a holding exercise like reading or colouring, in other words it is time wasted.

Whether you are a believer or not, your child will get more out of being in RE lessons (and I dont mean spiritually, I mean being part of a group, stimulated and educated on different cultures as well as religions) than being out of them.

Lulumama · 04/05/2008 19:05

i think that even if you are atheists, you owe it to your children to allow them the breadth of knowledge that comes with learning about other cultures and religions

he might not want to follow in your footsteps as an atheist, and even if he does, knowing about other religions is part of being well educated

DS is Jewish, at a CofE school , he is excused from joining in prayers and hymns etc.. but i don;t see why he should be effectively ostracised from all religious learning.

i think you are actually being quite short sighted

what will happen when everyone in his class is talking abotu christmas or easter and their excitement about it?

LadyMuck · 04/05/2008 19:05

RE is not the same as theology, and I do think that it helps children learn more about the world around them eg major festivals, differences between religions, how each religion marks various milestones in life. But my dc are in a very multicultural school and helping to explain the differences between religions has helped to explain some of the differences between home practices amongst their peers.

To remove your dc from such in a community would be a fairly strong stance - a sort of fundamentalist atheism IYSWIM. Quite a lot for a 4yo to take on and have to explain to their peers.

Even with removing your dc from acts of worship you need to understand that you may be removing them from more than merely an act of worship, but a significant part of the school day in terms of community. That said some of our local schools either have abandoned the act of worship (and accept the negative comments on their OFSTED reports), or confine it to one day per week.

Blu · 04/05/2008 19:16

Imagine trying to learn about the history of India with no more than a knowledge that some people are known by different names - it kind of relegates everyone to a mass of people you consider to be 'other'.

Also - don't sweat too much about the act of worship. DS attends a community school and they do have assembly, but none I have attended (at least one at term - they invite parents in) has anything like an act of worship. They do however feature lots of moral issues...aka differnt ways to say 'be nice to each other' I think Heads of multicultural schools routinely flout the act of worship demanded by the national curriculum. or maybe it is conducted by the premises manager in the potting shed in the middle of eating lunch time or something.

I would let your child enjoy being part of the community that a community school represents - and put your energy into writing to your MP about religion in schools.

wheresthehamster · 04/05/2008 19:39

I think it would be a good idea to look at the curriculum for RE before making any decisions. Unless it is a church school then all religions are taught as 'some people believe in this...' and are an interesting part of primary education.

For example in KS1 we learn about Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Hannukah and other festivals in this context.

The 'daily act of worship' that is compulsory in schools varies and you need to ask the content before making a decision. Our school says a prayer which is not spiritual in content and is basically about thanks for friendship and health and trying to be nice to others. Nothing religious apart from 'Dear God' and 'Amen'. Obviously I can't speak for other schools.

tassisssss · 04/05/2008 19:43

Meg, I can understand how, as an atheist, you might want to withdraw your child from the Religious Observance aspect of school, but can you explain what your problem with RE is? In RE they tend to just be learning about other religions, so facts about them like Jews worship in a synagogue, the holy book for Muslims is a Qu'ran, lots about festivals etc etc. What are you not happy about?

MegBusset · 04/05/2008 20:11

Thanks for all your input.

I don't have a problem with him learning about religions as long as it's not presented as true, I suppose.

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twinsetandpearls · 04/05/2008 20:18

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

CHOCOLATEPEANUT · 04/05/2008 20:22

at this thread.Do you not want your child to make thier own mind up and RE in a community school will cover all aspects of religion and give an overall view.

nell12 · 04/05/2008 20:24

It is presented as
"Christians believe..."
"In the Jewish faith Jews believe..."
"Muslims read the..."

etc etc

The children are shown the stories that different religions believe in, where they go to worship, the books they read, the rules they follow.

It is generally done in a completely objective way.

CHOCOLATEPEANUT · 04/05/2008 20:26

Not presented as true just spotted that.

What would you do if despite your interventions you child suddenly found thier faith?

I look at it from the other side you see. I am a Catholic and we are bringing up our children as Catholics but that is not to say they may decide its not for them.I think you should relax aboout it.

Blu · 04/05/2008 20:27

'amen' and 'dear god' definitley don't get said at DS's community school assemblies.

dramaqueen · 04/05/2008 20:30

Actually it is presented as true in my dc's non-c of e primary school, and I do have a problem with that. Not enough of one to pull them out of lessons though. I give them the other side of the argument at home

nell12 · 04/05/2008 20:34

Are you sure dramaqueen...have you seen it? How is it worded?

LaComtesse · 04/05/2008 20:39

I think RE lessons are interesting even if you don't believe - when I was at primary we didn't have any such thing and at secondary we studied Christianity and Judaism. No other religions. My dd in contrast to me, is quite well educated regarding religions and faiths in general.

MegBusset · 04/05/2008 21:14

As I said in my OP, it is merely something I have been pondering and wanted to get others' experience of. When I was at school (non-faith) the RE side of things was very much presented as 'God exists, you will say the Lords' Prayer every day, when you die you will go to heaven' etc etc.

Out of interest, is atheism also discussed alongside the major religions?

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ElizabethBeresfordSW19 · 04/05/2008 21:19

It depends, is it a church of England school that other people would have given their right arm to get their child in to?? If it is, then please take your child out of the school.........
and let somebody else have the place. HISTORICALLY, The churches provided the ground for the schools (church of England and catholic) to be built on. The schools wouldn't exist if it weren't for those church bodies.

If you feel so strongly and clearly you do, then don't send your child to a church school.

I have respect for your decision not to teach your child religion, but I hope that you have respect for the school's ethos even though it is not your own.

MegBusset · 04/05/2008 21:21

No, I wouldn't send my child to a church school, i think it would be hypocritical.

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ElizabethBeresfordSW19 · 04/05/2008 21:23

Oh I apologise, you are considering a secondary school. I see.

Well, I'd be amazed if your child ended up believing in God!! I wouldn't worry about it.

In my school, I thought RE was very interesting. Moral debates were put forward, so that we could see that right and wrong weren't always black and white. I may not be Jewish or catholic or Hindu, but I'm glad I know about those religions. It's just INTERESTING in my opinion. I think the syllabus also covered Athiesm and Humanism.

MegBusset · 04/05/2008 21:24

Actually DS is only 14mo so I will be considering primary schools, but not for a couple of years! I just like worrying about things ahead of time

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