When we moved south of the border, we were very careful to choose a non-faith school for Tadpole as we are of the opinion that prayer has absolutely no place in education. We’re all for children being taught about ALL religions, but very much against one religion being given precedence over the others and specifically against children being asked to pray.
For the record, Hubby is an atheist and I am a bog-standard, non-denominational Pagan who believes in nature not deities, and we have brought up Tadpole thus far with no religion at all. This was very clearly stated on our entry forms.
Seeing as how I was assured before Tadpole started that his school was not religious at all, it came as rather a big shock today when the school gates opened earlier than usual and through a window I saw his class saying a prayer at the end of the day. All the children pressed their hands together, closed their eyes and bowed their heads.
I was livid. And I wasn’t the only parent who was upset about it.
My friend and i questioned our kids on the way home and managed to get out of them that not only do they pray at the end of the day, they do it every morning at assembly and say grace at lunchtime too. Tadpole was also under the impression that if he didn’t say his prayers, he would get told off by his teachers.
As soon as we got home, I was on the phone to the school asking to speak to the head teacher. She was in a meeting, but the school secretary very quickly got her out of that meeting to call me back.
My main questions were:
- Why is my child being asked to say grace and prayers?
- Why was I not told this would be happening?
- Why was my permission not sought before this happened?
- Why is my child afraid he’ll get into trouble if he refuses to pray?
Apparently a daily act of collective worship is required in schools in England, even if they are not faith schools! I was absolutely shocked! And apparently because I had not specifically stated that our son was to be excluded from these, it was assumed that he should then be included.
Tadpole is my first child and I have never put a child through school before. I was never told about these “daily acts of collective worship” so how could I have known I had to request his withdrawal from them?
As a result, my son has said prayers every day at school for three months without my knowledge and against my wishes. We ask Tadpole every day what he’s done in school, but he’s a five-year-old boy and invariably replies that he’s done nothing or he can’t remember. We told him when he started school to be a good boy and do as the teacher asked him. It seems this has backfired big time. I feel like my child has been indoctrinated, which I specifically tried to avoid.
To say I am upset and disappointed is a gross understatement.
Tomorrow is the last day of term, but a letter will be going to the head teacher requesting his immediate removal from these daily acts of collective worship. If I wanted my son to pray in school I would have sent him to a faith school.