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My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

For discussions related to education and educational institutions.
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chuff
Posts: 12
Joined: October 19th, 2015, 1:58 pm

My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#1 Postby chuff » October 19th, 2015, 2:59 pm

Hi everyone

New to the forum, I'm actually looking for some measured advice on what is quite a delicate subject.

My son is 7, almost 8, and attends our local school - This was always a 'CofE' school and our older daughter(now 16) also went here.

A couple of years ago this school became an Academy school which I found a bit concerning - Having raised my concerns with the teachers was told not to worry and that nothing would change. I am starting to hear more and more things that I am not happy about, and have an interview with his teacher tomorrow evening and will be raising my concerns once again.

In class they have a special prayer table with bible.
Religion themed lessons outside of RE (writing prayers in English lessons)
Was told the other day that if they dress up for halloween they are worshipping the devil
Group worship, regular visits to the nearby church/

Myself and my wife are completely secular, humanists and atheists - I firmly believe that there are no christian children, muslim children, or in fact atheist children - My child is a blank slate and we constantly strive to encourage him to think for himself, to try and figure out what he thinks is true and what isn't. (although I understand this is an impossible task and try as much as we might, the parents will always shape his worldview)

But this blank slate that we are so carefully nurturing is now under attack from systematic indoctrination and it really makes me feel uncomfortable.

What can I do ?

Do nothing? Are my feelings valid? Am I making a big deal about nothing?
Moving his school is just not viable, this is the only real option unless we want to involve significant car journeys.
Excluding him from all religious based stuff? But this will just single him out as different, he has already been chided by the rest of his class for saying that he doesnt believe in god.

Or do as I have been each year, speak to his teacher and tell them where we're coming from - This always goes down like a lead balloon of course but I just don't know if I can sit by and watch.

If anyone else has been through the same or can offer any advice I would be very grateful/

Thanks
Chuff

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Alan H
Posts: 22278
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#2 Postby Alan H » October 19th, 2015, 3:09 pm

I assume you've seen the BHA's Frequently Asked Questions?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

chuff
Posts: 12
Joined: October 19th, 2015, 1:58 pm

Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#3 Postby chuff » October 19th, 2015, 3:31 pm

Hi Alan, thank you and yes I have seen that before - It is roughly what we've been following, but the goalposts have moved and my perception is that the religious angle is being pushed more and more lately - Either because the school is becoming more comfortable with its new identity, or, as he is growing up and they are pushing it more as he gets a bit older.

He tells me about these things that he is worried about and although I try to be as diplomatic as possible it's all I can do not to tell him his teacher is talking rubbish - We've entrusted his education to them and he should trust that what they say is the truth rather than 'most of it is, just not these bits.. In my opinion'

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Altfish
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Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#4 Postby Altfish » October 19th, 2015, 5:16 pm

Hi Chuff.
I don't envy you, it sounds dreadful.
Do you mind me asking which Academy Group is running the school?
Also, have you written to your MP?

chuff
Posts: 12
Joined: October 19th, 2015, 1:58 pm

Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#5 Postby chuff » October 19th, 2015, 6:59 pm

Hi Altfish - It is a frustrating situation, I don't want them filling his head up with this stuff but they seem intent on pushing their message.

His school is an 'Academy of The Good Shepherd Trust'
Diocese of Guildford

I haven't written to my MP, and it's not something I would ever have considered - Are they likely to respond ?

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Altfish
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Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#6 Postby Altfish » October 19th, 2015, 8:02 pm

chuff wrote:I haven't written to my MP, and it's not something I would ever have considered - Are they likely to respond ?


I am always writing to my MP; they will reply. The answer you get may not be the answer you want but you are bringing the issue to their attention and you probably won't be the only one. Also write to your local councillors.

It may be worth copying in the BHA or contacting your local branch of Humanists - I assume they are Cumbria Humanists, here...
http://www.penrithpartnership.org.uk/or ... anists/556
...I could only find a Penrith Group but there may be a Carlisle or Workington.

Are there any other parents with similar concerns? I'll be surprised if you are the only ones.

I've googled The Good Shepherd Trust, there website is here (I'm sure you'll have been there Chuff, but this is for other forumers) ...
http://www.thegoodshepherdmat.co.uk/

It doesn't read well, there is a The Good Shepherd MAT Prospectus which can be downloaded here..
http://www.thegoodshepherdmat.co.uk/prospectus.html
The bible quote on its cover does not bode well.

You could have a battle on your hands, in this day and age this shouldn't be happening, Blair and Cameron have a lot to answer for. :angry:

chuff
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Joined: October 19th, 2015, 1:58 pm

Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#7 Postby chuff » October 20th, 2015, 8:45 am

Good morning, thanks for the links there.

We're actually in Surrey so I'm not sure why it refers to Cumbria. Was also quite surprised to see that the comedian Rob Brydon is moonlighting as the Bishop of Carlyle. Image

I can almost feel their reluctance to writing the words 'and none' in this statement

"Our core aim is to provide children of
all faiths and none with excellent
educational provision within a caring
and supportive Christian ethos. We
believe that every child has a God given
right to educational excellence through
high quality schooling. The success of
pupils lies at the heart of what we do."


They appear to reference their christian principals and values on every page, like they have copywrited morality.

Meeting with the teacher is this evening. I will try to convey our feelings tactfully

I will write to my local MP's and see what kind of response I get - We're in a heavily conservative area unfortunately.

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Altfish
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Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#8 Postby Altfish » October 20th, 2015, 9:22 am

Apologies, I assumed Cumbria because the website seemed to be Carlisle and Cumbria based.

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Altfish
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Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#9 Postby Altfish » October 21st, 2015, 6:39 am

Dare I ask, Chuff?
How did you get on?

chuff
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Joined: October 19th, 2015, 1:58 pm

Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#10 Postby chuff » October 21st, 2015, 8:43 am

Good morning! Not much to report really..
It was a very brief meeting and his teacher was really quite meek and mild - I broached the subject and she gave me the expected "it's really nothing to worry about" brush off so I had to persist a bit, explained that although I understand it's a faith school, he is not a child of faith and we would like that to be respected.
I managed to avoid the word 'indoctrination' this time as his teacher last year looked like I'd slapped her in the face with that word.
I didn't expect anything to come out of it, but at least I've offered them another perspective and hopefully she will keep it in mind.

Here is a picture of their 'Worship corner' in his classroom.
http://i815.photobucket.com/albums/zz77/chuff761/20151020_190845_zpsbpputalj.jpg

I am planning to write to my MP as you suggested and guess I'll just have to keep and eye on it. If nothing else just so they can hear a voice on the subject.

Thanks

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Alan H
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Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#11 Postby Alan H » October 21st, 2015, 10:40 am

I just started to have a look at what the Government says about academies - this page is just about the process of converting to an academy but there is a bewildering number of documents to wade through there! Do you have all the 'official' documents the school needs to produce as an academy?

I'd also suggest contacting the BHA's Education person, Jay Harman, jay@humanism.org.uk - he may well be able to give some advice.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Nick
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Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#12 Postby Nick » October 21st, 2015, 11:56 am

chuff wrote: Was also quite surprised to see that the comedian Rob Brydon is moonlighting as the Bishop of Carlyle. Image :laughter: God works in mysterious ways!

I can almost feel their reluctance to writing the words 'and none' in this statement

"Our core aim is to provide children of
all faiths and none with excellent
educational provision within a caring
and supportive Christian ethos. We
believe that every child has a God given
right to educational excellence through
high quality schooling. The success of
pupils lies at the heart of what we do."
God given rights? Oh perleease. God seems to have failed for most of creation in just about every part of it. Grrr!!

They appear to reference their christian principals and values on every page, like they have copywrited morality.
Indeed. But just about every improvement in morality has been opposed by christianity. Grrr!!

Meeting with the teacher is this evening. I will try to convey our feelings tactfully
I think I'd struggle with that...!

I will write to my local MP's and see what kind of response I get - We're in a heavily conservative area unfortunately.
There are plenty of atheist Tories; it's more that they don't think it is worth rocking the boat, that it doesn't do too much damage, and can even be "useful", even if it is a load of cods. But it is always important to let them know that the times are a-changin'.

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Nick
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Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#13 Postby Nick » October 21st, 2015, 12:42 pm

chuff wrote:Good morning! Not much to report really..
It was a very brief meeting and his teacher was really quite meek and mild - I broached the subject and she gave me the expected "it's really nothing to worry about" brush off so I had to persist a bit, explained that although I understand it's a faith school, he is not a child of faith and we would like that to be respected.
I managed to avoid the word 'indoctrination' this time as his teacher last year looked like I'd slapped her in the face with that word.
I didn't expect anything to come out of it, but at least I've offered them another perspective and hopefully she will keep it in mind.
You were much gentler than I would have been. (Which may well be a good thing!) I think I might have continued to use 'indoctrination'! I wonder if it might be more effective to write? It gives you more opportunity to hone your points, to reference their own "Aims and Mission", and make specific requests in respect of your son. For example, criticise the isolation your son is experiencing and lack of empathy and support. You might struggle to convince them that "faith" is a contradiction of honesty, even if it is. But getting answers in writing might concentrate their minds rather more than speaking to a timid teacher, who can't change much, if anything at all.

I wonder if I'd ask, if there is nothing to worry about in all the hogwash being pushed at them, that would imply that it was having no effect, so why are they doing it? This whole business gets my goat! Grrr!!

Here is a picture of their 'Worship corner' in his classroom.
http://i815.photobucket.com/albums/zz77/chuff761/20151020_190845_zpsbpputalj.jpg
I bet God is overwhelmed by a table as wonderful as that! :laughter:

I am planning to write to my MP as you suggested and guess I'll just have to keep and eye on it. If nothing else just so they can hear a voice on the subject.
Good idea.

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Altfish
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Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#14 Postby Altfish » October 21st, 2015, 1:14 pm

chuff wrote:Good morning! Not much to report really..
It was a very brief meeting and his teacher was really quite meek and mild - I broached the subject and she gave me the expected "it's really nothing to worry about" brush off so I had to persist a bit, explained that although I understand it's a faith school, he is not a child of faith and we would like that to be respected.
I managed to avoid the word 'indoctrination' this time as his teacher last year looked like I'd slapped her in the face with that word.
I didn't expect anything to come out of it, but at least I've offered them another perspective and hopefully she will keep it in mind.

Here is a picture of their 'Worship corner' in his classroom.
http://i815.photobucket.com/albums/zz77/chuff761/20151020_190845_zpsbpputalj.jpg

I am planning to write to my MP as you suggested and guess I'll just have to keep and eye on it. If nothing else just so they can hear a voice on the subject.

Thanks

Thanks for the update.
Perhaps your son could make a model of The Flying Spaghetti Monster and ask that it be put in the 'Worship Corner'

chuff
Posts: 12
Joined: October 19th, 2015, 1:58 pm

Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#15 Postby chuff » October 21st, 2015, 1:47 pm

Hi everyone

Thank you all for your support.

Writing in to the school I think is a great idea, I find it much easier to explain in writing and can edit the annoyance out of my voice.
The teachers all seem to want to avoid any controversy, tell me not to worry, and then continue with their god themed education regardless.
I wouldnt imagine that my comments go further up the chain, perhaps as a point of contention in the staff room so writing to the headteacher is now top of my agenda.

I also couldn't help myself and had to point out a grammatical error on the large prayer that they had printed up on the wall in the hall :D

We havent made a pastafarian idol yet Altfish but we made a pretty good Liopleurodon though (I can't remember these in the bible) https://fbcdn-photos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t1.0-0/p280x280/1545976_10151867277686339_1507504065_n.jpg?oh=34a224b8c502747b77eb2bf99404d42b&oe=5685253F&__gda__=1455603456_be2f6af75ac38680c7ea2015040797a6

I know he'll be fine - Myself and Mrs Chuff believe that education at home is just as important and he's surrounded by a library of thought provoking materials or we're doing practical things to learn about the world. What I find upsetting is when they try telling him things as fact that are contrary to what he already knows, evolution of course is a good example. I'm sure he probably knows more about it than his teachers, but it puts us into a position - Do we tell him not to listen to his teacher? That they are mistaken..

I understand why the church is so obsessed with its involvement in education(try instilling this mythology into a rational adult) but lately and in a worrying reflection from across the atlantic, it seems to have really cranked up a notch. The irony is that we're living in one of the most secular societies in the world but they just won't roll over and die.

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Dave B
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Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#16 Postby Dave B » October 21st, 2015, 4:38 pm

Great that you are adding to your son's education at home, that can be as important at developing characters and inherent skills as any formal education - possibly more so in terms of future quality of life.

I have been wondering, as this post has developed, what your son's perspective of the situation is. Is he able to express his own ideas in any way? My experience with my nieces and nephews (many, many years ago) indicated that even youngish kids only lack the vocabulary to express themselves in "adult" terms, not the basic ability!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

chuff
Posts: 12
Joined: October 19th, 2015, 1:58 pm

Re: My child's school became an academy school - Concerned

#17 Postby chuff » October 21st, 2015, 6:33 pm

Hi Dave

He's a smart kid, but yes at this age they do often lack the vocabulary to properly define their idea's. He has always loved words though and even from when he was tiny once he'd found a new one out he would keep testing it, throwing it into a sentence until he got the right context. He very quickly learned that words can be powerful.

Despite the ridicule he received on one particular occasion last year from his peers for saying that he thought god wasn't real, he stuck to his guns and mentioned it to his teacher as he was upset and fair play to her it sparked a conversation in class and she explained that not everyone believes the same thing and noone is better or worse than anyone else regardless of what they do or don't believe. Which of course was great at the time and addressed the issue.

Myself and my wife try to tread very carefully as we don't want to bias his views. I know it is inevitable up to a point, but it's always at the forefront of our mind and whenever he asks us about anything(which is often!!!!!) rather than just tell him our preconceived notions we start a conversation. Well, what do you think? Have you considered this aspect? But what about this other thing that is related? If we're not sure why don't we find out from a book or look on the internet, or maybe I've even got a DVD about it....
If it's something in the physical world rather than a concept(how does this work? what is it made of? etc), we always try to make it into an activity - Do an experiment, go somewhere, see for ourselves, find out! I just think learning things like this will stick in his mind much more than reading and memorising facts from a book or a blackboard in school


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